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Bradley outlines frustration with IFA over rejection of all-island league

The Shamrock Rovers manager believes the association should have been more open to the idea.

Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Bradley.
Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Bradley.
Image: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

SHAMROCK ROVERS MANAGER Stephen Bradley has vented his frustration with the Irish Football Association (IFA) over their handling of the proposed all-island league.

The IFA ruled out supporting a potential all-island league via a statement in late October, outlining the “lack of guarantees” surrounding income figures in businessman Kieran Lucid’s proposal.

Yet Bradley believes the association should have been more open to the idea, describing the concept as “a no-brainer” as well as critising the timing of the IFA’s statement.

“I’m amazed the IFA came out with the statement they came out with so early in the process,” Bradley told RTÉ2fm’s Game On.

“For me, there was no need for it. Why come out with a statement like that? Let’s keep sitting down and talking.

“Nobody said it was going to be easy. Nobody said it was going to happen overnight. I really believe if we want to progress the league, not tomorrow but in 10 years time, we have to have an all-Ireland league. 

“There will be teams unhappy. They are going to miss out on certain things. There is going to be people falling out. But that is something what happens when you try to create something better and bigger. 

“What we can’t have is people being happy to sit in the corner and kick the can down the road for the next 20 or 30 years. I think an all-Ireland league is a no-brainer for everyone involved.”

While the IFA outlined that their current structure has helped to build increased attendances, awareness and television coverage in Northern Ireland, there was plenty of support for Lucid’s proposal in the Republic.

Bradley also said he doesn’t buy into the idea that Dundalk’s comprehensive 6-0 defeat of Linfield in the second half of the Unite the Union Cup was an indication of a problematic gap in quality between teams in the two leagues.

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“I know people made a lot out of the Dundalk and Linfield game and the scoreline,” he added.

“But over time it will make teams from north and south stronger. Financially it would even out over a period of time and I think the pool of players would even out over a period of time as well. If we don’t ever take that first step, I know there are European places and financial rewards that have to be discussed, I really think we can get there. 

“I think we can get an attractive league for more investors, for people from outside, for television and the neutral. It is something we definitely need to look at.”

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