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Northern Irish league surprised at FAI announcement of new cross-border Champions Cup

A two-legged clash between the winners of the League of Ireland and the Northern Irish Premiership has been thrown into doubt.

Fran Gavin at today's season launch.
Fran Gavin at today's season launch.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Updated Feb 12th 2019, 6:47 PM

FOOTBALL CLUBS IN Northern Ireland have denied that they have agreed to participate in a new, two-legged competition against the winners of the League of Ireland in November. 

The new competition was announced by FAI Competitions Director Fran Gavin earlier today, and he proposed that it will consist of a two-legged clash between the cross-border league champions to be staged in November, with the second leg live on RTÉ. 

Within hours of the announcement, however, the Northern Ireland Football League (NIFL) expressed surprise at the FAI’s public announcement. 

“The NI Football League note today’s announcement at the SSE Airticity League Launch regarding the potential formation of a new competition between the winners of the of the Danske Bank Premiership and SSE Airticity League”, read a public statement

“We were aware that initial discussions had taken place between the Irish FA and FAI but did not expect any formal announcements at this stage.

“We look forward to consultation and receiving further detail regarding this opportunity, which we will consider with our member clubs.” 

The NIFL is run independently of the Irish FA and The42 understands that the Irish FA were aware that the FAI intended to make a statement about the competition today. It is also understood that the FAI remain confident the new competition will go ahead this year as planned.

In a statement released to The42, the Irish FA said the competition has yet to be fully confirmed. 

“While nothing has been confirmed at this stage, discussions about a potential new cross-border game between the NIFL Premiership Champions and the winners of the League of Ireland have been ongoing in recent months.

“The Irish FA welcomes the potential format which could bring substantial revenues for the clubs involved both in terms of prize money and gate receipts.

“The Irish FA will continue to work to ensure that any new competition works for the good of clubs and the league in Northern Ireland.”

-This article was updated at 19.00 to include the statement issued by the IFA. 

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Gavin Cooney

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