Monday 18 November 2019

Blow to Kieran Lucid's all-island league plan as IFA states it won't sanction involvement of its member clubs

Bohemians take on Linfield in the 2010 Setanta Sports Cup.
Bohemians take on Linfield in the 2010 Setanta Sports Cup.

Aidan Fitzmaurice

The Irish FA have dealt a major blow to the plans for an all-island league as the governing body in Belfast has said it will not allow any of its clubs to take part in the proposed structure.

Clubs from both sides of the border attended an address in Dundalk last week by Kieran Lucid, the Kerry-born entrepreneur who has a plan to revamp the structure of senior soccer on the island with a united league.

While clubs from the League of Ireland had in general been supportive of Lucid's plan, it was reported that clubs in Northern Ireland were lukewarm at best and now the IFA have made their views clear, with fears expressed over the potential loss of places in European competition.

"The Irish Football Association has confirmed that it will not sanction any of its member clubs to take part in an all-island (All-Ireland) Football League as proposed by Irish businessman Kieran Lucid," the IFA's CEO Patrick Nelson said today.

"Having listened to the proposals from Mr Lucid and his team, we 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)

"NIFL has gone from strength to strength since its inception in 2013 and continues to attract increased sponsorship and funding.

"The present distribution model, unanimously agreed by all clubs, ensures all 12 teams in the Danske Bank Premiership benefit from the prize fund.

"This has created a balanced league which has seen a substantial increase in attendances, awareness and television coverage. The potential income figures quoted in Mr Lucid’s proposals are highly speculative and lack specificity or guarantees.

"UEFA competition places, prize monies and youth solidarity funding are important to our clubs and we do not wish to put these in question.

"We greatly value our association and club links with the Football Association of Ireland and are happy to both take part in, and enhance, cross-border cup competitions at all levels," Nelson added.

"We already have the new Unite the Union Champions’ Cup, played for between the champions of the Irish League and League of Ireland, the Presidents’ Cup for Junior sides in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and a proposed new intermediate level competition."

Online Editors

The Left Wing: Champions Cup preview, the World Cup hangover and Joe Schmidt's next team

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport