PROVISIONAL DETAILS OF an eight-team Airtricity League First Division were announced by the FAI today ahead of the season’s opener on 2 March.
The opening weekend sees Limerick FC host Finn Harps, Waterford United travel to Wexford Youths, and Mervue United play Longford Town.
Salthill Devon, who will compete under the name SD Galway following Galway United’s decision to withdraw their licence application, begin their campaign with a trip to Athlone Town.
The 28-game fixture list was confirmed at a meeting of the National League Executive Committee (NLEC), but will be revised if the FAI’s Licensing Committee decides not to approve any of the eight teams for the coming season.
Applications from Tralee Dynamos and Cobh Ramblers to join the First Division were rejected by the NLEC, although both clubs will be considered as replacements if a vacancy arises during the licensing process, which is due to be completed by 12 Feburary.
The league also confirmed details of the promotion/relegation structure for the 2012 season. As with last season, the First Division champions will be automatically promoted, while the side which finishes bottom of the Premier Division will be relegated in their place.
The clubs which finish second and third in the First Division will again meet in a two-legged play-off, scheduled to take place over the weekends of 19/20 October and 26/27 October. The winner of that play-off will then progress to a two-legged promotion/relegation decider against the club which finishes 11th in the Premier Division.
The FAI has said that it will continue to hold meetings with the Galway United Supporters Trust (GUST), Salthill Devon and Mervue United throughout 2012 to discuss the future of football in Galway.
At a meeting on Tuesday night, GUST said that the trust had “unanimously voted to continue to remain independent and to pursue their vision of a community based football club representing Galway City and County.
As a result of this decision, the proposals from both Salthill Devon and Mervue United in relation to any amalgamations were rejected.
The newly-rebranded SD Galway confirmed this morning that they will play their home games at Galway United’s Terryland Park this season.