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IFA thrown into confusion over Wells

By Alex McGreevy

Confusion reigned today over the future of Irish FA Chief Executive Howard Wells.

IFA President Raymond Kennedy revealed to The Belfast Telegraph that Wells has turned down the offer of a new one year contract.

Wells, however, insists that he has yet to receive a new contract offer.

Wells also refuted claims aired at a meeting of Irish Premier League officials this week that he is about to walk away from the association and into a new position with the London Olympic Committee.

Wells said he was shocked to learn his contract and future with the IFA had been discussed at the gathering.

He said he had not applied for a new job and was not seeking a new position anywhere.

Well's' current contract with the IFA runs out in December and he described any new deal as "pure speculation".

The Belfast Telegraph has learned that during Monday's meeting of Irish Premier League officials, Wells' term in office was raised and it was claimed the former Ipswich Town chief executive had already accepted an interview in London and would quit the IFA in forthcoming days or weeks.

It was also suggested he would exercise a get-out clause in his contract.

Wells said: "I am shocked to hear that I have an interview and a new job set up because this is news to me.

"I don't know where this has come from. There is no substance to this whatsoever.

"From July 1, I had six months to run on my contract and according to contract law, the IFA should have indicated then if it wanted to offer me a new contract.

"I still have not seen anything relating to a contract offer so effectively I am working a period of notice.

"But I am not actively seeking employment elsewhere."

The IFA though say they did offer the chief executive a new one-year contract in August which he apparently has declined.

President Kennedy said: "Howard made a verbal response to the offer and following on from that and the fact that he found it unsatisfactory, the Executive Committee gave me the right to negotiate with him to see if a settlement can be reached and that is currently on-going.

"He was in China for the Women's World Cup and is due to report back for duty at the weekend.

"I am very surprised that such a matter would be discussed by the Premier League Committee and will be contacting members to find out what was said."

Wells has enjoyed a largely successful time during his near three-year relationship with Irish football, the most recent fillip coming with the birth of live coverage of the Irish Premier League on Sky Sports, topped off with a £10m four-deal to cover Northern Ireland international games.

Wells' future could be determined on whether or not Northern Ireland gets a new stadium to host international fixtures and major showcase events, and if he is successful, or not, with recommended changes to articles of the IFA's rules and regulations.

One of the sticking points for him has been the rule banning the playing of fixtures on a Sunday.

Ironically, the future of the draconian never-on-a-Sunday ruling was to be voted on at an EGM later this month. It is expected this will now be switched to take place at a later date in November.

Meanwhile, Linfield boss David Jeffrey got the nod to become the new Northern Ireland U23 manager for a new Under 23 International trophy by just one vote, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.

Jeffrey and Portadown manager Ronnie McFall were tied on five votes each before Bob Jenkins (Limavady United) opted for the colourful Blues boss.

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