David Wilson reporting for the Sean McCaffrey foundation.
Dundalk will host this Thursday the final round of talks as 20 clubs from the Republic of Ireland and 14 clubs from Northern Ireland be presented with the final outline of the plan which could see an attempt at a cross-border league.
Kieran Lucid, a multi-millionaire hailing from Kerry, has been working on this vision for over two years, acquiring the expertise of ex-Ireland manager and league of Ireland stalwartBrian Kerr in the process.
Marketing experts from the business world have also been drafted in along with one-time FA General Secretary Alex Horne along with Stafford Reynolds formerly chairman of Glentoran F.C.
Over the last couple of months there has been contact and meetings with clubs up and down the island. Even areas such as Cavan/Monaghan, Kerry, Carlow/Kilkenny, Mayo and Kildare who are without senior League of Ireland teams have been invited to conventions in the hope of untapping new areas of potential.
With the possible political stumbling blocks which thus idea might encounter, it is hoped that money will talk. Television companies are hoped to provide streams of revenue. We have seen recently the astronomical figures which were bandied about during the purchase of the Premier League and Champions League rights and it is hoped that this money could filter its way down the lower echelons.
The increase of government funding is another angle along with possible cross-border reconciliation initiatives. Over the last year the government has allocated the greyhound industry approximately €15 million, football only receivedless than half of this in 2017 and has had its funding ceased over the last couple of months due to the controversy which has shrouded the organisation.
There is still uncertainty throughout clubs both in Northern Ireland and the Republic. The Setanta Cup, a cross-border cup competition which is now defunct was received well in the beginning but faltered due to scheduling conflicts.
This November will see the ‘Champions Cup’, a two-leggedaffair which will pit Irish League champions Linfield againstAirtricity League champions Dundalk with a prize fund of £50,000 up for grabs.
What the future holds for football on the island is still unclear. The all-Island League could be an attractive option to revitalise a possible league team here in the Cavan-Monaghan area. Whatever happens over the next few months there will be many who hope that league football could see itself back in the Cavan-Monaghan area.