Northern Ireland have given Michael O’Neill permission to speak to Stoke City about their vacant manager’s position.
The Irish Football Association announced on Thursday that the Potters have made an official approach for O’Neill.
Stoke are rooted to the bottom of the Championship, with eight points from 15 games and are looking for a new manager after sacking Nathan Jones. O’Neill has been the Northern Ireland coach since December 2011.
The IFA released a short statement on the approach, which reads:
“The Irish Football Association has been approached by EFL Championship club Stoke City who are seeking permission to speak to Michael O’Neill about their vacant manager’s position.”
O’Neill’s stint in charge of Northern Ireland has been tremendously successful. The former Shamrock Rovers manager oversaw the country’s qualification for Euro 2016 – Northern Ireland’s first appearance at a major tournament for 30 years – and they narrowly missed out on the 2018 World Cup after losing due to a dubious penalty call against Switzerland in a play-off.
Under O’Neill, the team have risen from being ranked 129th in the Fifa world rankings back in September 2012, to 20th in the world five years later. Northern Ireland are currently ranked 34th and have two games remaining in their Euro 2020 qualification campaign – at home to the Netherlands on November 16 and away to Germany three days later.
According to The Guardian, O’Neill’s contract with Northern Ireland, which runs until 2024, has a buyout clause of £1m and Stoke are prepared to over him £1.5m a season.
The 50-year-old is currently paid £800,000 a year by the IFA, according to the report.