Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

O’Neill set to leave Shamrock Rovers as deal talks collapse

Michael O'Neill will quit as manager of Shamrock Rovers after Thursday night's Europa League visit of Tottenham Hotspur to Tallaght Stadium.

It’s understood that the 42-year-old Ulsterman has decided to seek a fresh start elsewhere after final talks over securing a new deal with the Rovers board broke down in Dublin during Saturday afternoon.

O'Neill's three-year spell in charge of the revitalised Hoops will come to an end when the 2011 season draws to a close with the final Europa League Group A fixture against Spurs.

Sources close to the former Northern Ireland international have confirmed that he has no alternative job lined up and that he was keen to remain with Rovers after winning two league titles and the Setanta Cup since his arrival from Brechin City in 2009.

But it is understood that differences in opinion over the direction Rovers will take after their European breakthrough this season caused a rift between O'Neill and the board.

A contender for the Hibs job filled by ex-Linfield star Pat Fenlon last week, O'Neill is of course shortlisted the Northern Ireland job and is also believed to be a target for managerless Hartlepool United.

“Michael will not be renewing his contract,” a source close to the Ballymena man confirmed over the weekend.

“The club have offered him a two-year deal but the board and Michael have different ideas as to where Rovers can go.

“They also differ about the potential of the club. Michael has no other job lined up but he will not be signing the new deal.”

The news will come as a body blow to Rovers.

When contacted on Saturday, Rovers' chairman Jonathan Roche said that “nothing has changed”.

He added: “We have a match against Spurs on Thursday, and Michael is contracted with us until December 31.”

He denied that there were any talks between the manager and the board on Saturday afternoon.

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