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IFA cut lame duck president Kennedy deal to go

Irish FA chiefs are ready to run the risk of further infuriating fans with a reward package for outgoing President Raymond Kennedy.

IFA Chief Executive Patrick Nelson was today expected to announce the imminent departures of President Kennedy and his |No 2 David Martin.

The two were heavily criticised in a Government inquiry into the £516,000 loss to football over their sacking of former Chief Executive Howard Wells.

Kennedy, 69 on Thursday, is expected to step down in September, following pressure from the IFA’s ruling Executive in the light of the Sport NI report and subsequent threat to the £30million Government funding required to rebuild Windsor Park.

But the ‘birthday present’ to smooth his exit are certain to lead to further controversy.

These include being made an honorary Life President, continued roles at FIFA and UEFA, representing Northern Ireland at all away matches during the European Championship qualifiers and attending International Board meetings until 2011.

Kennedy, who is effectively now a lame duck President, is also set to be offered a consultancy role on the new national stadium committee.

The threat to Government funding for the new £30million Windsor Park project, if Kennedy remained, forced the hand of the IFA's ruling Executive Board in deciding he had to go.

However, he didn't make it easy for them.

Depending on how you look at it, the Executive Board were either desperate to get rid of him or keen to silence him.

Rank and file fans who have long since lost faith in the current IFA leadership will be infuriated and astounded at what amounts to rewarding a catastrophic stewardship.

Whether he goes now or in three months time is immaterial.

The bottom line is the changes at the top needed to secure funding for the new Windsor and move all of Northern Ireland football forward can now be made.

The IFA's business plan for the next 10 years hinges on projected revenues from the new Windsor.

Those would benefit all of football and Kennedy (right) recognised that in finally agreeing to go for the greater good.

He rallied yesterday against what he called a concerted media campaign to get him out.

It wasn't personal but a comment on the judgement that allowed over half a million pounds to go out of football at a time when the cash-strapped local game needed it most.

In the end it wasn't the media who voted him out, but those who allowed him into office in the first place.

Belfast Telegraph