“A New Year proposal that will be too good for the FAI and IFA to refuse”

The Irish Independent reports that “advanced discussions about the introduction of an All Ireland soccer league” have taken place between top eircom League and Irish League sides and with the backing of “significant third party” encouragement.

While the report cites no sources and accordingly has to be taken with a large pinch of salt, it appears the intention is to draft a New Year proposal that “will be too good for the FAI and IFA to refuse”.

Daniel McDonnell believes that while the prospect of an All Ireland league has until now been viewed as “an impossible dream” due to political and logistical hurdles, the introduction of the Setanta Sports Cup has introduced new momentum.

Early plans envisaged that the new All Ireland League would comprise twelve teams with regional leagues underneath while both the FAI Cup and IFA Cup would remain in situ thus retaining a degree of historical tradition.

Those ideas are not set in stone, though, with the only firm issue of agreement being that any club wishing to be in the top league should be a full time professional outfit with suitable facilities.

Those clubs in the North that have participated in secret talks naturally include big guns like Linfield and Glentoran but there are also surprise packages such as Newry City who have ambitious plans about their future which they also expect to announce early next year.

Naturally, the clubs need to convince the FAI and the IFA of the merits of such a league or at least force them to sit up and take notice.

The origins of the initiative came from meetings between the six leading eircom League full time clubs — Cork City, Drogheda United, Derry City, St Patrick’s Athletic, Bohemians and Galway United.

The logistical problems include the distribution of European places as well as the strong possibility that FIFA would demand that if the Irish leagues are united then the international team should go the same way.

Speaking of FIFA, the organisation’s Executive Committtee is scheduled to give its verdict on the eligibility row regarding footballers born in Northern Ireland declaring for the Irish Republic this Saturday in Tokyo.

  • Democratic

    “Perhaps they look at the TV and just assume it given all the Union Jacks there. And why do you still feel the Stormont Banner is any better?

    Posted by kensei on Dec 13, 2007 @ 11:27
    I think the point is Kensei that Mr. Butler obviously has little personal knowledge of the subject matter no? – Let’s face it he was wrong in what he claimed – on both counts – your question is a different matter entirely…

  • Dec


    Is that really the best you can come up with…

    Hint: try Edwin Poots’ ‘speech’ – it’s a goldmine of double-standards, woeful confusion over FIFA guidelines and irrelevant whataboutery.

  • Tochais Síoraí

    The comments by the Linfield chariman make me despair, they really do. I’d be less depressed if he said he didn’t want a league with too many themmuns.

    An AI League would improve things straight off. Market it, get Sky / Setanta money on board, (Setanta already put more money into their cup than the current sponsors put into the whole league programme), get into the schools and build the product. There’s no reason why in a few years the league could not be of English Championship standard.

    Does he not want his club to go full-time? Is the height of his ambition for Linfield to win the IL most years playing substandard oppostion in empty stadia? Where’s the challenge in that?

    Less teams qualifying for Europe? FFS, Irish teams from either league don’t go further than the first or second qualifying round. What’s the point in putting 6 pisspoor sides into Europe every year? Why not three with a better cahnce of getting to the group stages?

    He quotes the Shelbourne experience. Does he not know that the main reason that went sour was that the sponsors with the money in Dublin to back the project properly wouldn’t touch his Shelbourne counterpart with a bargepole?

    Why doesn’t he go down the road and talk to the Ulster Branch IRFU and ask them how they can attract five figure crowds to Ravenhill these days in a league that didn’t exist 10 years ago. Simple, they joined up with neighbours in Scotland and Wales. Look at what the GAA have done – how have they massively increased their crowds?

    Before all that maybe write a letter to Santa, Mr Chairman.

    Ask for ambition and vision.

  • Cap’n Bob

    When Cork City played Linfield in the Setanta Cup Linfield paid the correct amount of the gate to their opponents. It was less than travelling expenses.

    If this can happen in a big competition to big teams think of the smaller teams who cannot draw such big crowds and doing so on a regular basis.

    I do not see it working for financial reasons.