Belfast Telegraph

Lawrie's million reasons to move

Lawrie will get 10 times his salary

By John Laverty

Northern Ireland manager Lawrie Sanchez will be handed a deal worth up to 10 times his current salary if he keeps Fulham in the Premiership.

Sanchez's existing contract with the Irish FA is worth around £120,000 a year, but taking over business tycoon Mohammed Al Fayed's struggling London club on a full-time basis will make him an instant millionaire.

Supporters are now accepting that there is little or no chance of Sanchez staying on as Northern Ireland boss, even on a part-time basis, when his agreement with the IFA expires at the end of the Euro 2008 campaign.

News of Sanchez's move to Craven Cottage, as 'caretaker' manager in place of the sacked Chris Coleman, was a bombshell for the Green and White Army, enjoying their country's best results in more than 20 years under the former Wimbledon player.

Since taking over Northern Ireland just over three years ago, he made no secret of the fact he wanted to manage a big club.

Now Fulham, hovering just above the relegation zone, have offered him that opportunity.

The IFA won't stand in his way if he can combine BOTH jobs.

IFA President Jim Boyce said the move reflected the outstanding job Sanchez (47) had done for Northern Ireland, notably taking them to the top of their Euro 2008 qualifying group.

"We wish both him and Fulham Football Club well for those matches ahead, " said Mr Boyce.

He added that with excellent wins against leading nations such as England, Spain and Sweden, "it is hardly surprising that a Premier League club would be interested in engaging him".

IFA chief executive Howard Wells insisted Sanchez would honour his existing contract.

"It is a short-term appointment (with Fulham), and he has given another commitment to me with regards to seeing out his contract with Northern Ireland," he said: "This is a unique opportunity for Lawrie Sanchez. We would have been churlish not to have allowed him to do it. "

With the qualifying campaign resuming in August, Sanchez can concentrate on his new club.

His international commitments would end in November should Northern Ireland fail to qualify for Euro 2008 - but would extend to the tournament in Austria and Switzerland in summer 2008 if they qualified.

Billy Bingham, Northern Ireland's most successful manager, says he doubts if Sanchez could ultimately handle both jobs.

"I tried it myself once, and it's something you can manage on a short-term basis but not a long-term thing," he said.

"You end up falling between two stools and not giving the international job your full attention."

He added: "The IFA should start looking for a replacement for Sanchez immediately."

Ex-Fulham boss Coleman was believed to be on a basic salary of £600,000. With bonuses, that could top £1m a year - a figure Sanchez would almost certainly find impossible to turn down.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph