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Irish FA closing in on golden £8m prize as Northern Ireland edge closer to Euro2016 finals

By Steven Beacom

The Irish Football Association are still on course for the biggest financial windfall in their history if Northern Ireland qualify for the Euro 2016 finals.

It is estimated that the IFA would be in line for a stunning £8 million jackpot which could rise to £10 million depending on how Michael O'Neill's team do in the tournament in France.

The majority of the earnings would come from Uefa prize money for qualification which could be added to by gate receipts and television revenue from glamour friendlies plus endless merchandising opportunities.

In the past when Northern Ireland qualified for World Cups, football's governing body here were dealing in thousands of pounds.

The beautiful game, though, has become a massive financial beast since then and come the finals of Euro 2016, IFA officials will see millions flooding in to the Association's coffers.

Just for reaching Euro 2012, all 16 countries claimed a whopping £6.3 million.

It is expected it will be same or more four years later.

In the last European Championships, staged in Poland and Ukraine, even for drawing a group match teams were handed almost £400,000 and twice that for winning.

Reaching the quarter-finals, as England did, gave countries another £1.6million with numbers rising the further the progression.

Eventual victors Spain ended up with £18 million.

Apart from the finance to be gained from qualification, there are other areas in which the IFA can maximise revenue.

It would mean some glamour friendlies coming to Belfast in 2016 with Northern Ireland now becoming a much more attractive proposition for bigger nations.

Money will also be made from merchandising.

Shirt sales alone would rocket ahead of the finals in France, while the players themselves and manager O'Neill would also get a piece of the pie with bonuses handed out for qualification.

Belfast Telegraph