Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 September 2014

FAI hope to cash in on Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane's Republic double act

Martin O'Neill, left, and Roy Keane, right, signed two-year contracts with the FAI on Tuesday
Martin O'Neill, left, and Roy Keane, right, signed two-year contracts with the FAI on Tuesday

The FAI are hoping that their appointment of Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane as Ireland's new managerial team can generate as much cash as it has hype – believing a €10m (£8.3m) profit can be attained within two years.

To reach this target, qualification for Euro 2016 is a must, yet already they have noticed a commercial bounce on the back of the O'Neill-Keane arrival. Sources within the association have confirmed that ticket sales for next Friday's friendly against Latvia have moved quickly and a sell-out is probable.

Beyond this, though, reaching the Euro finals in France is where the financial potential lies, with prize money, coupled with commercial off-shoots, providing the possibility of a gross intake of €15m (£12.5m), which would more than justify the €5m (£4.1m) outlay (bonuses included) on the management duo.

For some, notably Eamon Dunphy, Keane's addition to the team smacks of a showbiz decision.

Yet speaking yesterday, FAI president Paddy McCaul dismissed such a claim. "It's not showbiz," said McCaul.

"It is good from a football perspective and also from the box office perspective. But our priority is football. We want to qualify for tournaments, we want to be strong.

"With these two men on board, our potential in recruiting new players will increase because of their status in the game.

"Young players who are eligible for one or more countries would be attracted to working with such proven winners. It's an exciting time for Irish soccer. I'm excited personally by the addition of two sporting icons to our cause.

"You couldn't fail to be fascinated by how it will work. Getting Martin, our number one target from the word go, was great. Getting Roy is equally fantastic."

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