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IFA President Jim Shaw to oversee Windsor Park opening

By Steven Beacom

Irish Football Association President Jim Shaw is set to retain his position for the official opening of the new Windsor Park and the 2016 European Championship finals should Northern Ireland qualify.

Shaw’s five year tenure was due to end in 2015, but a change in the IFA’s Articles of Association allows those who enter office in mid term, as Shaw did in 2010 replacing Raymond Kennedy, to remain in place for a further 12 months if they are elected.

The Belfast Telegraph understands that will be the case for Shaw with nobody willing to oppose him continuing for another year at the IFA’s AGM next June.

It means he will be President when the new stadium at Windsor is completed in November 2015 and an agreement will be reached for him to be in the role for the Euro 2016 finals in France, when hopefully Michael O’Neill’s men will have qualified for their first tournament since 1986.

This would delay the controversial David Martin his chance of being elected as President, but there are suggestions from his camp that having Shaw help oversee what could be two of the biggest events in IFA history would be an acceptable and fair scenario for all concerned.

Shaw, of course, has to agree to continuing his role as the figurehead of the IFA, but his supporters are confident that will happen which will go down well with the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) who provided £25million for the reconstruction work to turn Windsor into a 21st century stadium with an 18,000 capacity.

Well respected in government circles, Shaw is also seen by the Northern Ireland fans as a man they can do business with.

Sometimes derided for their decision making, the IFA sticking with Shaw until 2016 would appear to be a common sense approach.

Shaw took over the President’s post after Kennedy and Martin, then the IFA treasurer, left the Association in 2010 with the Sports Minister at the time, Nelson McCausland, making it clear that no money would be handed over for the re-development of Windsor Park while the pair were still in office.

Kennedy and Martin had been strongly criticised in an independent report into the unfair dismissal of Chief Executive Howard Wells in 2008, costing the IFA a whopping £500,000.

At a time when a steady hand was required, Shaw provided it, steering the governing body through some stormy waters.

Shaw took over in November 2010 when the five year limit for an IFA President was in place.

IFA members have since agreed that any President coming in mid term should finish the year until June before being given the opportunity to complete their five year service, which for Shaw can effectively deemed to have started in June 2011 allowing him to go until 2016.

Following his departure four years ago, Martin returned to the IFA as First Deputy President in 2013, after the IFA decided government requested competency tests did not have to be passed to become an office bearer.

Sports Minister Caral Ni Chuilin was far from happy with the development and at one stage she threatened to pull the plug on the millions for Windsor unless the IFA could display ‘appropriate governance’.

With the issues between DCAL and the IFA resolved, the Windsor Park re-development went ahead.

Martin remains in line to replace Shaw in 2016 unless a challenge is mounted.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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