Scottish FA poised to make pitch for Michael O’Neill

Michael O'Neill would become Scotland's highest-paid manager ever. Picture: Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty
Michael O'Neill would become Scotland's highest-paid manager ever. Picture: Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty
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The Scottish FA has appealed to supporters to be patient as it prepares to make its pitch to Michael O’Neill.

The Scotsman has learned that the governing body is ready to offer the Northern Ireland boss the chance to become the highest-paid 
manager in the history of the Scotland national side.

It is three months tomorrow since Gordon Strachan’s departure was announced and, in the ensuing period, the Irish FA has redoubled its efforts to keep O’Neill by offering him a new six-year deal worth £750,000 per annum.

The SFA is unlikely to be able to match that figure but hopes that the opportunity to end Scotland’s long absence from the finals of a major tournament, together with the knowledge Hampden Park is one of the host stadiums at Euro 2020, will help convince its No 1 target to take the job.

O’Neill was on a fact-finding trip to China last weekend along with Northern Ireland assistant Austin MacPhee and is known to want his future sorted as soon as possible.

The draw for the Uefa Nations League will take place in Lausanne on 24 January and O’Neill is due to be there with Northern Ireland.

The SFA says the search for a new manager cannot be rushed, amid reports that O’Neill was swaying towards committing himself to Northern Ireland.

With no friendly games scheduled, no manager and also uncertainly over the future of Hampden Park, the SFA has written to Scotland Supporters Club members in an attempt to reassure them. Fans are 
also due to renew their £50 membership this month.

“The appointment of a new Scotland Head Coach is an emotive subject that is high on the agenda for all Scotland fans,” the SSC stated in a letter to its 30,000 members. “We would like to assure supporters that the matter is also of the utmost priority for both the search committee and the Scottish FA as a whole.

“It has been well publicised in the media that discussions have taken place regarding a new Scotland Head Coach. Progress has been made in this regard, but it is critical that this process is not rushed. It is of paramount importance that the appointment of the next Scotland Head Coach is the right one. Discussions will continue in the short-term and we will update supporters whenever any new information becomes available.”