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Cash boost for the League of Ireland as FAI increase prize money by 50%

The welcome news was announced at the SSE Airtricity League launch in Dublin today.

Players from the 12 Premier Division clubs at the Aviva Stadium today.
Players from the 12 Premier Division clubs at the Aviva Stadium today.

SSE AIRTRICITY LEAGUE clubs have received a welcome boost today as it was announced that the prize money will rise by 50%.

Previously set at €315,500, the total has been increased to €475,500 in part due to the FAI’s deal with TRACKCHAMP which will see matches live-streamed outside Ireland from the start of this season.

The news was revealed this afternoon by the FAI’s Director of Competitions Fran Gavin, who was speaking at the SSE Airtricity League launch at the Aviva Stadium. 

“I believe the national league is currently in a good place,” said Gavin. “Attendances are up, the majority of our clubs are more stable and they have been for a long time.

“Longer contracts have been offered to our players and our underage leagues have created a development side to our clubs which hasn’t been there prior to 2011.

“For several years now, having dealt with the worst recession ever to hit this country, the subject of prize money has been a topic of a lot of discussions.

“And thanks to the support of SSE Airtricity and the Irish Daily Mail, we were able to maintain it at a fair level, but not I’m delighted to announce that we will be increasing the total prize fund for the SSE Airtricity League Premier and First Divisions by 50%.

“The prize money will rise from €315,500 to €475,500. In addition, the Irish Daily Mail FAI Cup, the EA Sports Cup and our Fair Play award will bring the total pot to €596, 500.

Our four European qualifiers will also receive a minimum of €1.15 million in prize money from Uefa. That gives us a total pot to play for of close to €1.75 million.

“This has been made possible in part because of the agreement we struck during the close season with TRACKCHAMP, which not only has given us the ability to inject extra money into the league but it will also give our clubs access to video footage of games which they can use for analysis, thereby improving the coaching and preparations of our teams.

“The TRACKCHAMP deal generated some discussion when it was announced but the reality is with this partnership we’re merely a path established by other European leagues.”

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill and FAI CEO John Delaney Martin O'Neill and John Delaney were in attendance this afternoon. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

12 months ago, the FAI laid out plans to begin a consultation process headed up by Declon Conroy in a bid to improve the league as a product and, having released the independent report last September, Gavin says discussions about how best to use the findings have begun.

“This time last year, the FAI board, aware that the participation agreement that runs the national league was due review at the end of the 2016 season, commissioned a consultation process which resulted in a very comprehensive and wide-ranging report from Declan Conroy,” he added.

“Since the publication of the report, we’ve been engaged in discussions with representatives from the SSE Airtricity League clubs in a bid to map out a path for the league based on Declan Conroy’s findings and recommendations.

The most recent meeting was last Monday and there has been good open dialogue between the parties at an agreed pace that is suitable to the clubs and the association.

“We are open to further resourcing the clubs financially depending on discussions going forward.”

The SSE Airtricity League kicks off next Friday night, 4 March, while double winners Dundalk meet Cork City in the President’s Cup at Turner’s Cross this Saturday (2pm).

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Ben Blake

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