John Delaney said he was optimistic for the future of Derry City
Derry City's future in the League of Ireland appears to be secure following talks with a visiting FAI delegation.
The club has been invited to reapply to play in the league's lower division.
Derry City were expelled from the league after the FAI said they broke regulations by holding secondary, unofficial contracts with players.
FAI chief executive John Delaney was among a delegation which met business people, the city's mayor and the local supporters' trust on Thursday.
Mr Delaney said if the application to rejoin the League of Ireland was as professional as the people he met in the city, he had "no doubt it will be looked upon favourably".
"It was an extremely good day for Derry City FC - everybody's on the same pitch here, everybody wants Derry back in the League of Ireland and today was a more than positive day to ensure that happens," he said.
"We have identified a road map to get Derry back into the league next season and that is on course.
"I know it means a lot to the people of Derry to be part of the League of Ireland and it is also important to the FAI to have Derry in our league.
"It is important that Derry City survives, irrespective of which division they are in.
"They will have to start in a lower league - there is no way they can go straight into the Premier League - but if a proper application is made, they could be in the First Division next season.
"I would envisage a new company being set up, which would not be carrying these huge debts, and hopefully that will lead to Derry re-joining the league next season," added Delaney.
The club secured a final position of fourth place in the Premier Division last Friday, but a day later it was expelled from the league.
It is alleged unofficial secondary contracts were used to get around limits on the amount clubs can spend on players' wages.
The club's players also released a statement on Tuesday night which distanced them from what they described as the Derry City board's "wrongdoing".
On Thursday, Stephen McCarron was the last of the club's board members to resign.
Four other directors, including the former chairman Pat McDaid, left on Tuesday.
Mr McCarron said he decided to step down after meeting with local businessmen.
"The plans that were laid out for me last night about the future of the club, they made perfect sense.
"I don't think I would be able to get things moving as quickly as these guys can.
"Things will be speeded up at a much greater rate, which means as far as I'm concerned senior football will be back in Derry next season," said Mr McCarron.
Former Derry City chairman Paul Diamond said they envisage the club as "largely part-time", with "costs kept very tight".
"A number of people including myself, we're a steering group, and the intention is to put a new group together which will have either a board of directors or possibly a management committee.
"People like myself will initially be providing support in terms of advice, and there will be also some financial support available," said Mr Diamond.
Stephen McCarron announced his resignation on Thursday
Speaking before the meetings, Mr Delaney said one of the next steps is to establish the extent of Derry City's debt.
"We've been told that it's somewhere between £0.5m and £800,000.
"There's money owed to the players, owed to some directors, to Dungannon Swifts, and I'm sure there is a series of creditors.
"I think it's important to establish the breadth of that debt and then they type of options that are available to the club - whether it can play, whether the club goes into a form of examinership, or does it go into a form of liquidation?"