Robbie linked with U-21 role as clock ticks on King reign

John Delaney has confirmed that an announcement on Noel King’s future will be made next week amid strong speculation that a reshuffle at U-21 level is on the way.

The FAI chief executive acknowledged that news was imminent at an event in Belfast which confirmed that Abbotstown chiefs have paired up with the IFA to launch an all-island bid for the 2023 European U-21 finals.

Current U-21 boss King is a permanent member of staff – he is also the head of recruitment – so his job is likely to be redefined.

Robbie Keane has been linked with a role in a new set-up, but doubts hang over his interest.

When asked about King’s role, Delaney said: “That’s not for today. But there’ll be an announcement next week on that. He is the current manager, I’ll leave it at that.”

The CEO batted away questions on his satisfaction with senior team boss Martin O’Neill, stating that the focus around the Windsor Park gathering should be the “historic” bid.

Ireland have never qualified for a European finals at U-21 level and Delaney admits that he does not know yet if both the Republic and Northern Ireland would be guaranteed a spot in the 2023 renewal if their bid was successful.

However, he said that discussions about increasing the competition from 12 to 16 teams are planned for next month and that would make it easier to find room.

“That would be a decision for UEFA,” said Delaney, who sits on the European football governing body’s executive committee.

A redeveloped Dalymount Park, the Aviva Stadium, Thomond Park, Turner’s Cross and Tallaght Stadium have been identified as potential host venues along with Ballymena, Ravenhill and Windsor Park.

But Delaney insisted the door is not closed on other venues emerging as options.

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