All-island league: Clubs 'wish to hear more' - Lucid

Stephen McAlroum
League of Ireland teams competed against Irish League clubs in the knockout Setanta Sports Cup competition between 2005 and 2014

The group behind proposals for an all-island league say they will continue to push for the cross-border competition.

The Irish Football Association had said it would not sanction any of its clubs to take part in the proposed league.

Led by businessman Kieran Lucid, the group said they will consider different formats and "welcome the input of the two Football Associations."

The proposal centred on an all-island 14-team Premier Division, with two 10-team regional leagues below it.

Several Irish League clubs attended an information evening about the proposals in Dundalk last week and the IFA were been briefed about the plans.

"We believe the best interests of our member clubs and football in Northern Ireland are best served by remaining with the club-led model established via the NI Football League," an IFA statement said.

A uniquely challenging environment

Despite the IFA's stance, Lucid's group say that they will continue to work with Dutch sports consultancy Hypercube, who are in the process of gathering data and opinions from clubs, TV companies and supporters over the coming months.

"Our financial projections are based on sincere and promising discussions with broadcasters, sponsors and other stakeholders," said a statement from the All-Island League Advocacy Group.

"Of course nothing is certain until a format is agreed and a deal is signed subject to FA approvals, removing the need for a leap of faith on the part of the clubs or FAs.

"While we recognise the gains that NIFL has achieved since its inception in 2013, IFA & FAI clubs continue to live in what is a uniquely challenging environment in European professional sport.

"Not only do they have to compete with GAA & Rugby, but English & Scottish football hold significant sway over their support bases.

"Many clubs live a Spartan existence with significant financial uncertainty, putting severe strain on club personnel.

"Growing the Football Economy through regular cross-border competition gives clubs both large and small a better chance of keeping their brightest stars at home for longer, helping our clubs qualify regularly for European group stage competition.

Lucid's group say that the reaction of the clubs to the Dundalk meeting "was positive, and the consensus was that clubs wish to hear more."

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