Thursday 23 January 2020

'I really believe in this project' - Brian Kerr wants to push on with All-Irish league

Brian Kerr eager to be involved in a revamped Irish soccer set-up. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Brian Kerr eager to be involved in a revamped Irish soccer set-up. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Tony Considine

With the FAI facing an uncertain future after an unwanted hat-trick of a reconvened AGM, an EGM and an FAI Council meeting all took place on Sunday, former Ireland boss Brian Kerr has given his thoughts on how best to ensure the national league is given proper consideration as the association attempts to reform itself and survive.

Kerr has been involved with Kieran Lucid's proposals for an All-Irish league in an advisory capacity and firmly believes that for League of Ireland clubs, throwing their weight behind the plan, which would see a third party company separate from the FAI administering the league, is the best way forward.

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And the 66-year old, who won two League of Ireland titles with St Pat's before a hugely successful spell as underage manager within the FAI, believes that now is the time for stakeholders in and outside football to come out and throw their weight behind the All-Island group's plans.

"At league level, the League of Ireland is very important," he said. "I'm working intensely with a group of people trying to get an All-Island league in place and I believe that's the future for the League of Ireland and the Irish League. I really believe in this project, but we need support on it. We need people to come out and say they think it's a good idea."

The proposal had a setback two months ago when the Irish Football Association (IFA), who administer the game north of the border, released a statement saying they "believe the best interests of our member clubs and football in Northern Ireland are better served by remaining with the club-led model established in 2013 via the Northern Ireland Football League (NIFL)".

However, it has been reported that certain influential clubs in the North are supportive of further discussions after an initial meeting in Dundalk the week before the IFA statement. And Kerr believes that support, together with backing from elsewhere, could lead to positive developments in 2020 following a year when negative stories around the game were the norm rather than the exception.

"I think the players are very much behind it, I think the managers are behind it," he added.

"The clubs here are very much behind it. We need a little bit more political goodwill towards it as well.

"So good things may come out of all the negativity and the disastrous situation we're in today. I hope it'll be onwards and upwards for Irish football next year because it's not been a good year."

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