Football/Soccer

NI boss Michael O'Neill expects to sign contract extension soon

The Uefa Nations League B draw, made by Pedro Pinto, left, Managing Director of Communications of UEFA, former Czech player Vladimir Smicer, centre, and UEFA deputy secretary general Giorgio Marchetti, right.
Liam Blackburn, Press Association Sport

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill has confirmed he expects to sign a new contract with the Irish Football Association, having turned down the chance to become the next Scotland boss.

Edinburgh-based O'Neill last week held talks with the Scottish Football Association regarding its vacancy but has elected to remain with Northern Ireland.

The North have been drawn to face Austria and Bosnia-Herzegovina in Group Three of League B in the UEFA Nations League.

The 48-year-old was appointed by the IFA in December 2011 and is understood to have been offered improved terms on a deal that will run until 2024.

"We had very positive discussions before Christmas and I envisage now we'll pick up from where we left off," O'Neill told Press Association Sport.

"It's not in terms of negotiations, there's just things that need to be sorted.

"The discussions were very, very positive so I look forward to having something to announce in the coming days."

O'Neill guided the Northern Irish to the last 16 stages at Euro 2016, their first major tournament in 30 years, and the nation then progressed to a play-off for the 2018 World Cup in November.

A controversial penalty in the first leg ultimately sent Switzerland through and there were fears O'Neill could then depart Northern Ireland, with the SFA identifying him as its preferred candidate to succeed Gordon Strachan.

However, it took the organisation two months to agree to pay the stipulated £500,000 compensation figure, and O'Neill had already held discussions with the IFA about extending his stay in the aftermath of the tie with the Swiss.

On why he rejected the Scottish offer, O'Neill added: "There wasn't just one factor, of course it was a difficult decision.

"I live there in Scotland, know Scottish football very well, follow it very closely. It was tempting but ultimately I've been in this job six years and I've seen a lot of progression with the national team.

"The (Irish Football) Association showed great faith talking about a new contract so soon after the game in Switzerland - they didn't need to do that.

"I felt it was the right thing to do. It was very difficult, I wish Scotland and their next manager well.

"Ultimately it's very difficult once you've led your own country to leave for another country."

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