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Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill says no to Stoke City

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill (left) and his Northern Ireland counterpart and namesake Michael could face each other in the 2018 Uefa Nations League.
By Chris Grace

MARTIN O’Neill will be staying on as the Republic of Ireland manager after rejecting the opportunity to become the new boss of Stoke City.

The 65-year-old had been courted by the English Premier League outfit after their top target Quique Sanchez Flores opted to remain at Espanyol in Spain, but after a weekend of negotiations O’Neill has decided against a return to club football.

It is expected that O’Neill will now sign the new two-year contract verbally agreed with the FAI back in October with the aim of taking the Republic to the Euro 2020 finals after missing out on the World Cup following a crushing play-off defeat to Denmark.

Speculation had been rife that O’Neill would be leaving the Republic, but despite the best efforts of Stoke chairman Peter Coates to make him Mark Hughes’ replacement, it is clear that the ex-Northern Ireland skipper still feels he has work to do in international management and can bring more joy to the country’s fans, having previously led them to Euro 2016.

The Irish FA will hope and are confident that the North’s boss Michael O’Neill will do the same as his namesake and stay put rather than go to Scotland, desperate for him to take over from Gordon Strachan, who was sacked in October.

The IFA are so determined to keep the 48-year-old that he has been offered a new six year deal worth £4.5 million.

IFA sources say they have ‘no sense of gloom or worry’ that O’Neill, who led Northern Ireland to the Euro 2016 finals, will leave for Scotland even though he is now free to speak to the SFA after they agreed to meet the £500,000 compensation fee stipulated in his current half a million per year contract which runs until 2020.

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