Commercial deal to stream games behind increase in LOI prize money
League of Ireland chief Fran Gavin has confirmed that the increase in prize money for 2016 has been driven by the sponsorship deal with Austrian company Trackchamp which was announced in December.
The key announcement at the launch of the new campaign in the Aviva Stadium yesterday was that the total prize pot would increase from €315,500 to €475,500. Clubs had expressed unhappiness at the prizes on offer, which were cut substantially before the 2011 season.
The driving force for the bigger pot was the deal which is tied in with the streaming of Premier Division matches to overseas customers for gambling purposes.
It's understood that the value of that arrangement is in the region of €130,000, which means that the Abbotstown contribution to the dividend has not dramatically changed. Top flight clubs were already aware that they would earn €10,000 per year from the Trackchamp contract.
Next week, the FAI will release a full breakdown of the figures. Gavin suggested there will be changes in the distribution weighted to help teams at the lower end of the table who miss out on substantial UEFA funds from European qualification.
He confirmed there would be no increase in the affiliation fees - €17,000 for the Premier and €8,000 for the First Division - which are another bone of contention. Gavin hinted that the breakdown will ensure the bottom club in each tier gets that amount back.
Negotiations are ongoing between the FAI and the clubs about the future direction of the league beyond this season. The Conroy Report recommended structural changes and Gavin acknowledged that certainty on the way forward will have to be reached by the end of this year so clubs will know the state of play heading into 2017 - changes in the size of the respective divisions is one topic that is up for discussion.
Ireland manager Martin O'Neill was present at the event and confessed that he should have attended more games.
"My main objective was to try and qualify for Euros so rather selfishly I thought that most of the players that I would be choosing would be probably playing in England," he said.
He encouraged League of Ireland managers to give him a call if they reckoned that a member of their squad was worth monitoring for the long run.
"The fact that nine of the 25 players I've used in the campaign played in the league should be a big boost to young players coming through," he said.