Belfast Telegraph

New long term Northern Ireland deal is on the cards for Michael O'Neill following Euro success

By Steven Beacom

Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill will be handed the new four year deal he wants by the Irish Football Association.

For fans and players alike, it will be the ideal way to celebrate a stunning Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, which for Northern Ireland culminated last night with a 1-1 draw against Finland in Helsinki, sealing top spot in Group F for O’Neill’s team.

Down the years the IFA’s strategy has been to dish out two year contracts to managers, but after O’Neill’s extraordinary success in leading the team to the Euro 2016 finals in France, they are set to break with tradition and offer him a long term contract.

The only sticking point will be if negotiations break down but the IFA do not see that happening, so determined are they to hold on to an asset.

O’Neill has taken Northern Ireland to their first major tournament since the 1986 World Cup and could become a target for English and Scottish clubs after the Euro 2016 finals.

When quizzed on a four year contract for O’Neill,  IFA Chief Executive Patrick Nelson told the Belfast Telegraph: “The best way of looking at it is that we are not frightened as an organisation of long term planning.”

Nelson added: "Michael's contract automatically rolls on to the Euro finals and the IFA Board, myself and Michael all have parts to play in this. We will take our time and have conversations about what happens beyond that.

"Michael has just moved into legendary status as a Northern Ireland manager. There is only Billy Bingham and Peter Doherty who have taken the country to a major tournament before him. We have enjoyed working with him in his four years to date and want to do continue to do so.

"He is not the sort of manager who only focuses on the senior squad. He will know the lads in the under-14s and under-15s and will know the potential is there."

O'Neill can expect an increase in his current £250,000 per year salary, but won't reach the £500,000 per year wage paid at one stage to his predecessor Nigel Worthington.

For qualifying for Euro 2016 though he will receive a hefty bonus payment.

The players are also in line for a bonus of upwards of £1 million between all of them for taking the team to France which will bring in at least £8 million to the IFA in terms of prize money, merchandising revenue and ticket sales.

And that's before you get to the naming rights for Windsor Park.

"I have talked to Steven as the captain and representative of the players and we are both in a place that we are quite happy with it and the manager will be rewarded too," added Nelson.

• Manchester United defender Paddy McNair was taken to hospital in Helsinki last night with a suspected broken rib.

The 20-year-old from Ballyclare was involved in a heavy challenge in the 13th minute of last night's 1-1 draw in Finland, but after lengthy treatment on the sidelines played on at right back.

He was substituted after 51 minutes, replaced by Conor McLaughlin, and went to hospital after the game.

McNair played his first game at Windsor Park on Thursday in the 3-1 victory over Greece which clinched Euro 2016 qualification.

Belfast Telegraph