Cork City chairman excited about the prospect of an All-Island League

Cork City chairman excited about the prospect of an All-Island League

Cork City's Garry Buckley with Sean Hoare and Daniel Kelly of Dundalk. Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

MAJOR changes to club football could soon be on the way for the League Of Ireland and the Northern Ireland Football League, with the possibility of an All-Island League on the horizon. 

A productive meeting was had in Dundalk, where delegates from over 30 clubs from both sides of the border came together to discuss bringing Kerry entrepreneur Kieran Lucid's idea to the next level.

Clubs have been asked to provide data to Dutch company Hybercube, who have extensive experience in designing league competitions for UEFA and around Europe.

Pieter Nieuwenhuis from Hypercube addressed the meeting along with Lucid and Oliver Weingarten, an Englishman who has worked as a legal and commercial executive with the Premier League.

Former FA General Secretary Alex Horne has also been advising Lucid's working group. He made a contribution by video link.

There has reportedly already been at least one expression of interest in TV rights to the tune of €1 million, with overall revenue, including from sponsorship and data rights as well as broadcasting rights projected at €10 million per annum.

Representing Cork City at the meeting from the Board Of Management was Conor Hallahan, as these seem like important times for the future of club football in Ireland.

“It is exciting stuff really, but we just need to take our time with it and make sure everything is in place before the clubs make a formal decision, which I am hoping will come soon enough as well,” said City chairman Declan Carey when speaking to The Echo. 

“I think Kieran Lucid is looking towards before the end of the year to make a formal decision on it. 

"I know Kieran myself and have chatted to him myself in person a few times. He is a great guy and he has done his homework on this.

“I guess it is just going to take some brave decisions from the clubs now I think to progress with this.

“Fingers crossed we can make some kind of reform within the league to improve things like the commercial revenues and the TV rights, media rights, that we have been striving for so long.

“The Irish League clubs have very similar challenges to League Of Ireland clubs in that supporters on this island tend to be more passionate about English teams.

“We need to come together now I think and unite in the challenges we face and try to maximize what we can get out of football in this country.

“It is early days. Next season I think we are sticking with the same formats, while also trying to improve relations with the FAI and how the league is run.

“Hopefully in 2021 we can start to see some stark changes across the board, weather that be through the existing structure that we have or some kind of All Island competition.”

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