All-Island league: Organisers 'delighted' at turnout of clubs at Dundalk meeting

Glentoran's Willie Garrett battles with Shamrock Rovers' Karl Sheppard in a Setanta Sports Cup quarter-final in 2014
League of Ireland teams competed against Irish League clubs in the knockout Setanta Sports Cup competition between 2005 and 2014

The businessman leading the proposed initiative to start a new All-Island football league in Ireland has spoken of his optimism after clubs attended an information evening on the project.

Kieran Lucid said the "vast majority of invited clubs" had been in attendance.

The meeting took place in Dundalk on Thursday evening.

"We made it very clear to the clubs that we will not be asking them to take a leap of faith, nor make significant decisions immediately," said Mr Lucid.

"However, we have asked them to engage in the process, and join us on the journey as we seek to translate the clear goodwill for the All-Island League concept into a tangible, well-funded and unique model that will the reinvigorate the all-island club game."

The Kerryman, the tech entrepreneur responsible for forming the working group involved in the project, said that he had been "delighted" by the turnout of clubs.

"Our working group gave the clubs an update on our proposal in terms of our progress and ongoing commercial negotiations.

"We also shared insights from our partners Hypercube who have over 20 years' experience designing league competitions for UEFA and member associations throughout Europe."

Former Republic of Ireland manager Brian Kerr
Former Republic of Ireland manager Brian Kerr is part of the working group that have drawn up plans for the project

Proposals centre on 14-team Premier Division

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

Clubs from both sides of the border will meet Dundalk on Thursday night to discuss the proposed plans.

Lucid, former Republic of Ireland manager Brian Kerr and former English FA general secretary Alex Horne have drawn up plans for the new structure.

The Sunday Times reported that the Football Association of Ireland has given the green light for the project to go ahead, as long as their clubs are on board.

However, the Irish Football Association in Northern Ireland is more cautious about the idea over financial concerns and maintaining their independence.

Lucid believes it would make clubs more competitive in Europe and allow them to gain from the resources that participation in the Champions League and Europa League can bring.

If it was to succeed, the plan would need backing of the clubs and the two national federations, as well as European governing body UEFA.

The competition would be run by a company owned by the participating clubs. The plan is for a top tier division bringing together the leading clubs from both leagues and two regionally based second divisions with promotion and relegation at all levels.

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