'The work continues' - Lucid's group not giving up on all-island league despite IFA opposition

The Northern Ireland association won’t allow their clubs compete in a cross-border league, but the group behind it aren’t giving up hope.

A general view of Windsor Park in Belfast.
A general view of Windsor Park in Belfast.
Image: Presseye/Jonathan Porter/INPHO

KIERAN LUCID AND the rest of the group proposing an all-island football league in Ireland are not abandoning their proposals in spite of the firm opposition of the Irish Football Association.

In a statement today, IFA CEO Patrick Nelson dealt the proposals a serious blow in announcing they would not sanction their clubs’ participation in the league, believing they were better off remaining in the Northern Ireland Football League.

Mr. Nelson compared the present distribution model in the Danske Bank Premiership (the top division in the NIFL) favourably to the revenue figures projected by Lucid’s group, which he says were “highly speculative.” 

“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.” 

In spite of the IFA’s public opposition to the plans, Lucid and his group are pressing ahead with their work. 

“We note the announcement of the IFA”, Lucid told The42

“The project we are embarked on is to support and improve the lot of professional football clubs on the island of Ireland. We remain focused on that objective. A considerable amount of work has been done to date, clubs are being regularly updated and consulted with as we make progress. 

“The work will continue.” 

More than 30 clubs from both sides of the border met with Lucid’s group in Dundalk last week, where they were briefed by the group on the proposals and the progress made thus far, which includes discussions with high-level political figures on both sides of the border. There have been no formal discussions with Uefa held to date. 

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Clubs were asked to release data to Dutch consultancy firm Hypercube to assess the league’s full potential, and it was hoped that clubs would hold a vote in the New Year as to whether to proceed with the proposals.

Videos further outlining the proposals have been rolled out on social media since that meeting took place. 

Bohemians’ Commercial and Marketing Director Daniel Lambert, who was present at the Dundalk meeting and is also a member of the FAI’s Commercial Committee, tweeted his hope that the IFA statement does not spell the end of the all-island proposals. 

“Disappointing statement from the IFA but not hugely surprising, hopefully this is not the end of the road, always going to be hiccups in seeking  to implement radical reform. Makes no sense to refuse further exploration of figures/detail with respected international experts.” 

About the author:

Gavin Cooney

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