O'Neill's improved deal with Irish FA is not far away
The Irish FA are closing in on finalising Michael O'Neill's new deal.
The Belfast Telegraph revealed in October that the IFA, on the back of Northern Ireland qualifying for the Euro 2016 finals, were set to break with tradition and offer O'Neill a four-year extension to his contract, rather than the normal two years.
O'Neill (pictured) is happy with that and the three key figures involved in the process, IFA President Jim Shaw, Chief Executive Patrick Nelson and Chairman Gerry Mallon, are keen to reward him for his outstanding efforts during the successful campaign.
Talks between both parties have been straightforward and progressive and if an announcement is not made before Christmas, it will come shortly after and be greeted positively by Northern Ireland supporters, overjoyed that O'Neill has taken them and the players to the promised land of a major tournament.
As this newspaper revealed last month, there will be stipulations written into the contract, should, as expected, clubs come in for O'Neill following next year's Euro finals in France.
Already, the ex-Shamrock Rovers boss is being discussed in boardrooms in England and Scotland as a future manager, and while he enjoys international football, he has spoken about his ambitions to work as a club manager in the future.
To that end there will be clauses written into the new deal which will allow O'Neill to talk to interested clubs if and when they come calling while on the other side there will be a stipulation providing the IFA with a compensation package should O'Neill leave before the terms of his deal are over.
O'Neill is currently on £250,000 per year.
There will be a significant increase in salary when the new deal is signed.
Northern Ireland may not play again until March, but the diligent 46-year-old continues to watch as many games as he can involving his players and is working with the IFA to find the best base possible for his squad in France. He also has tomorrow week's draw in Paris for the Euro 2016 group stages to look forward to.