O'Neill turns back on £500,000 bonus by stepping down as Ireland boss

Michael O’Neill turns back on £500,000 bonus by leaving role as Northern Ireland boss early after coronavirus crisis forces UEFA to reschedule Euro 2020 qualifiers

  • Michael O’Neill’s eight-and-a-half year reign as Northern Ireland manager is over
  • O’Neill was due to quit after Northern Ireland’s Euro 2020 ambitions were done
  • However, the coronavirus pandemic has seen their qualifiers pushed back
  • As a result O’Neill, who is now in charge of Stoke, has stepped away from the role
  • He would have received a £500,000 bonus if his side reached the Euro finals 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Michael O’Neill has turned his back on a £500,000 Euro 2020 bonus after stepping down as Northern Ireland manager on Wednesday.

It’s understood that was the figure O’Neill stood to earn if he guided his country through the play-offs to a second successive European Championship finals.

The 50-year-old has been combining the role with managing Stoke City since he was appointed by the Championship club in November.

Michael O’Neill has stepped down as Northern Ireland manager earlier than planned

However, O’Neill has agreed with the IFA to leave now after Northern Ireland’s Euro 2020 playoff semi-final against Bosnia was postponed until later in the year and the tournament itself put back until next summer due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Northern Ireland Under-21s coach Ian Baraclough is the favourite to take over, with Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson and St Johnstone boss Tommy Wright among the other candidates.

O’Neill has revived the team’s fortunes since he was appointed in December 2011 after winning only one of his first 18 games in charge. They dropped to 129th in the world rankings but he leaves them in 36th place.

O’Neill was named Stoke boss in early November, but remained in charge of Northern Ireland in order to see out the Euro 2020 – however the tournament has now been pushed back to 2021

Northern Ireland qualified for a first major championships in 30 years by reaching Euro 2016 in France where they made it to the knockout stage. O’Neill also secured a playoff for the 2018 World Cup, losing out narrowly to Switzerland.

He said: ‘After careful consideration and following discussions with the Irish FA I feel it is only fair that now is the right time for me to step aside.

‘I would have loved the opportunity to manage Northern Ireland in the Euro 2020 play-off game versus Bosnia & Herzegovina and the chance to qualify for another major tournament, but the current situation means that this is no longer possible.’

O’Neill memorably guided Northern Ireland to Euro 2016 – where they reached the last 16

 

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