In March, Ireland will embark on a daunting qualification path to Euro 2020. Ireland must win away to Slovakia and then away to either Northern Ireland or Bosnia. In a footballing sense, the stakes are high. Win and we'll take part in the big festival of European football this summer. Lose and we'll again fail to reach a major international tournament.
For the staff of the embattled and crisis-ridden FAI, the stakes seem far more terrifying. The result of these matches look like the difference between employment and unemployment for some staff.
According to reports in the media in the last 24 hours, a large number of FAI jobs depend on qualification. If Ireland reach Euro 2020, it is estimated they will receive €5million for qualification. Friday's presentation of doom at Abbotstown made it abundantly clear that the FAI is starved of cashflow. Five million euro would go a long way.
On yesterday's Second Captains football podcast (subs), Richie Sadlier cited a source who told him that 60 people would lose their jobs if Ireland don't qualify for the Euros. If that number is accurate, it would mean the FAI is considering reducing its workforce by 30%. In today's Irish Times, Emmet Malone quotes another FAI source who says that figure of sixty jobs as 'too high' though there is no denial that the matches will impact jobs at Abbotstown. Malone also quotes other FAI staff members who are completely in the dark about the scale of potential job losses, despite a number of briefings from the FAI executive.
International football often feels important but if these reports are to be believed, these matches in March will have a bearing of the livelihood on a number of people. As if there wasn't enough pressure on Mick McCarthy and his squad to get two results, it looks Ireland will literally be playing for the FAI in three months time.