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Wednesday 03 Jan 2024
Irish FA chief executive upbeat as new year begins

Irish Football Association chief executive Patrick Nelson believes “exciting times” lie ahead for both Northern Ireland’s international teams and the association in 2024.

As the new year begins, he said it promises to be an action-packed 12-month period.

He pointed out: “The UEFA Nations League will dominate thoughts for our senior men’s and women’s teams.

“The men’s team won’t know their autumn opponents until the draw in Paris next month but Tanya (Oxtoby) and the senior women’s team are already planning for the double header play-off against Montenegro on 23 and 27 February which will determine our fate for the second phase of the UEFA Women’s Euro 2025 qualifiers.

“Despite an excellent win against Denmark in our final qualifier, our senior men will not be in Germany this summer, and the tournament will be all the poorer for Northern Ireland and the GAWA not being present.

“Having said that, we have our own tournament to look forward to, when the UEFA Men’s Under-19 European Championship finals are played in Northern Ireland from 15 to 28 July. Gareth McAuley has the honour and privilege of leading our team in this tournament and we will all be behind him and his squad as they take on Europe’s best in our own backyard.”

His comments came in an email to staff across the association.

He further pointed out: “UEFA Euro 2028 is also inching ever closer, and as one of the host nations for the tournament our work has already started and will carry on throughout this year.

“As I’ve said before, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to see and be part of the world’s third biggest sporting tournament in our own country and I look forward to working with many colleagues to bring this to fruition.”

The chief executive further revealed that the association’s current corporate strategy, ‘A Roadmap for Football’, is having an impact on the governing body’s work in Northern Ireland. The strategy, which was launched at the start of 2022 and runs until the end of 2026, features more than 30 strategic objectives and over 100 strategic actions.

“We have made good progress on many of the seven pillars of that strategy so far. Each quarter we take stock of what we have done, and during last month and this month we are giving the strategy a mid-life service to ensure that it stays fit for purpose moving forward,” he explained.