Michael O’Neill set to pen new Northern Irelad contract within days

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill.
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill.

Michael O’Neill will sign a new deal with the Irish FA within days.

Association bosses have also negotiated a compensation clause of £750,000, in the event O’Neill is lured to a top job.

It backs up his intention to leave the squad in the best possible position if he were to move on, yet also indicates becoming Ronny Delia’s successor at Celtic, wasn’t the gig O’Neill was after, despite having been touted as the ideal candidate.

O’Neill says while the paperwork can be laborious, he doesn’t expect talks with IFA chief executive, Patrick Nelson, to suffer any snags.

“We hope to have everything finalised within the next week. It’s been held up, not because of any specific reason, but drawing up the legalities of a contract takes a bit of time,” he said.

“Patrick and I have been away, and it just takes time. But there’s no discussions over the terms of the contract which need to be outlined, it’s just a case of getting the paperwork in order.”

He conceded the European finals are seen as a shop window for coaches hopeful of landing a big role elsewhere, yet added it’s the same for all.

“Of course, the Euros will a shop window for coaches, as with the players. And by that point, contracts will be less significant. Should I leave the job I’m in, the Association will be compensated and I think the way the contract has been drawn up is fair in that respect to both parties.

“The main focus is on the summer, though I think obviously signing a new contract helps deliver that.

“There will always be speculation regardless of whether I sign the contract or not, that’s the nature of business and that goes for every coach in the room. If signing it gives more assurance to the situation then that’s a good thing and that’s what we want. We want a stable situation going into the finals and hopefully that will help achieve that.”

O’Neill was in Paris this week before leaving to continue preparations at the team’s base-camp, in Villefranche-sur-Soane.

He said: “It’s all about getting the team ready and that’s pretty much the preparation, I am pleased with our schedule, speaking to some of the other coaches it’s very interesting.

“I had a good chat with Roy Hodgson this morning and our preparation is very similar to England’s in terms of how we’ve tried to do it.

“Some people talk about the boredom thing and how you manage that, for our players this is their first major tournament so they shouldn’t be bored. If they’re bored then they probably don’t want to qualify again! But we’re in the process of hopefully doing a UK base, an Ireland base, an Austrian base and we’ve broken it up into little segments leading up to the games and giving players time off during that as well.

“I think coaches recognise that now, and we will have a full lead-in from when we go to Austria, which is going to be around May 29. We will all be together then, so we will have a good solid lead-in before we play on June 12.”