All-Island League dead in the water as Ulster says no

David Wilson reporting for the Sean McCaffrey foundation.

The cross-border league initiative put forward by Kerry businessman Kieran Lucid and his team has been effectively shot down as the Irish Football Association (IFA) refuse to sanction any of their clubs to take part in it.

An IFA statement read, “The Irish football association has confirmed that it will not sanction any of its member clubs to take part in an all-island (All-Ireland) Football League as proposed by Irish businessman Kieran Lucid.”

“Having listened to the proposals from Mr Lucid and his team, we believe the best interests of our member clubs and football in Northern Ireland are better served by remaining with the club-led model established in 2013 via the Northern Ireland Football League (NIFL).”

Last week all clubs both sides of the border gathered in Dundalk for a meeting which was largely deemed as a positive step in the right direction.

Over the course of the negotiation’s members from the FAI and UEFA had indicated that they were willing to give their support to the idea. However, for the agreement to work they needed the support of the IFA.

Similarly, to the English FA and the Premier League, the NIFL is independent of the IFA. The 38 NIFL clubs follow the rules and articles of the IFA yet the clubs are administrated separately.

IFA CEO Patrick Nelson who declared his associations opposition to the plans continued: “The present distribution model unanimously agreed by all clubs ensures all 12 teams in the Danske Bank Premiership benefit from the prize fund.”

“This has created a balanced league which has seen a substantial increase in attendances, awareness and television coverage. The potential income figures quoted in Mr Lucid’s proposals are highly speculative and lack specificity or guarantees.”

The IFA voiced their concerns over UEFA funding regarding the circulation of European places, prize money and youth solidarity funding.

The statement is a major dent to Lucid and his team working on the project. For areas such as Cavan/Monaghan, Kerry, Carlow/Kilkenny and Mayo this will impinge on their aspirations to have a senior side competing at a league level, something for their academy players to aspire to.

There was hope that perhaps a team here in the Cavan/Monaghan could be reignited here again if a cross-border league was introduced as there is some limited infrastructure already in place.

It was hoped that a team representing this area could enter the northern section of Lucid’s reformed league structure and would benefit from more regular games against teams both sides of the border. Unfortunately, those aspirations look as further away as ever.

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