Sport Soccer

Tuesday 23 January 2018

No room for schoolboy clubs in U-17 League

Fran Gavin, Director of the National League, during the launch of the SSE Airtricity League (Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE)
Fran Gavin, Director of the National League, during the launch of the SSE Airtricity League (Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE)

John Fallon

The FAI's new national U-17 league has a familiar look to it - with 19 of the 22 places announced yesterday assigned to League of Ireland clubs.

Even the three other entrants - Mervue United, Salthill Devon and Monaghan United - were all part of the senior league as recently as 2012.

Although the latter club has joined forces with neighbours Cavan for the venture, there is a distinct lack of innovation about the line-up for the first season, which is to run from this August to December.

League director Fran Gavin revealed in March that 26 expressions of interest had been received by entities outside existing senior clubs.

Those included the best-run and most successful schoolboy clubs in the country, along with submissions from county leagues well capable of teaching some struggling League of Ireland clubs how to keep their affairs in order.

None passed the final cut, making it a certainty that explanations will be sought from Abbotstown.


"The (FAI) working group reviewed aspects such as facilities, coaching qualifications, and in particular player pathway, with an emphasis on structures linking to senior football," said the FAI.

"The working group also took geographical location and strategic development of the game nationally into account when making its decisions."

Despite the criteria including a regional spread, half the counties in Ireland are not represented.

Meanwhile, delegations from League of Ireland and schoolboy clubs have brokered a new compensation scheme.

The first element, relating to players moving into the professional ranks domestically, will entitle the nursery club to a maximum of €400 per year of development. How this works in practice remains to be seen, as claims under the previous scheme - where a flat annual figure of €500 was due - were seldom lodged.

More interestingly, perhaps, is the agreement for 60pc of any transfer fee received by a League of Ireland for a player moving cross-channel within the first year to be distributed to his training clubs.

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