Republic of Ireland: Euro 2020 play-offs delay prolongs FAI's manager dilemma

Stephen Kenny and Mick McCarthy
Stephen Kenny was scheduled to take over from Mick McCarthy as Republic boss in August

The postponement of the Euro 2020 play-offs until further notice has done nothing to clarify when exactly Stephen Kenny will take over from Mick McCarthy as Republic of Ireland manager.

Kenny was scheduled to succeed McCarthy in August after the completion of the Euro 2020 cycle.

This was announced by the Football Association of Ireland when McCarthy was appointed in November 2018.

However, the coronavirus outbreak has seriously compromised that timeline.

As it stands, Kenny remains Under-21 boss with his side in qualification contention for the tournament originally scheduled for next summer, although there is speculation those finals may now take place in 2022.

The Euro 2020 finals have already been put back to the summer of next year and the question remains, who will be in the Republic's dugout should they defeat Slovakia in the play-off semi-final and then go on to beat either Northern Ireland or Bosnia-Herzegovina?

More immediately, who is going to be in charge for the play-off games.

When the play-offs were last month put back from March until June, new FAI interim deputy chief executive Niall Quinn said the governing body would wait until the outcome of those games before making a decision on the managerial succession.

However, it now remains to be seen when the play-offs will take place so the ball appears to be in the FAI's court in terms of the management.

Even before any of us had heard of coronavirus, Stephen Kenny appeared to baulk at a suggestion that he might like to stay on as Under-21 boss for a little longer given the possibility of the side achieving a first ever Republic qualification for that tournament.

The question to him had been framed in terms of the crucial under-21 game against Italy in October being on the same day as the senior team's Nations League game against Finland.

Kenny replied that he had it "in writing" that he would be senior manager at that point.

Media enquiries seeking clarity on the suggestion, or speculation amid a continuing vacuum over the issue, will only intensify in the coming days and weeks.

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