FAI and IFA confirm details of new cross-border competition

The Unite the Union Champions Cup will be contested from November of this year.

If Dundalk retain their title, they will face Linfield in the inaugural Unite the Union Champions Cup.
If Dundalk retain their title, they will face Linfield in the inaugural Unite the Union Champions Cup.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

THE FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION of Ireland and the Irish Football Association have announced a new cross-border competition entitled the Unite the Union Champions Cup. 

Sponsored by trade union Unite, it will see the SSE Airtricity League champions face the champions of the Danske Bank Premiership in a two-legged final. 

The first edition of the tournament will take place in November of this year, and will pit Linfield against whoever emerges as the winners of the League of Ireland in October. 

The title sponsors have signed up for three years, with the winners earning €50,000 and the runners-up €25,000. Another €25,000 has been ringfenced for community projects in the respective team’s local areas. 

This two-legged format is a replacement for the now-defunct Setanta Cup, a cross-border competition that ran from 2005 to 2014. 

It was first announced by FAI Competitions Director Fran Gavin at the League of Ireland launch in February, only to be thrown into doubt within hours by a statement from the Northern Ireland Football League stating its clubs weren’t expecting it to be formally announced. 

The FAI remained confident the competition would go ahead this year, and it will be formally launched next Monday, 13 May. 

Brendan Ogle, Senior Officer in the Republic of Ireland for Unite, said the competition will promote equality and diversity both sides of the border. 

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“Our union has a strong anti-sectarian and anti-racist ethos, and we support gender and sexual equality campaigns.

We salute the work done by civil society organisations to tackle racism in sport, and we hope to work with such groups to promote equality and diversity through the Champions Cup.

“Local communities and local clubs need support now more than ever, and Unite wants to provide some of that support while sending a clear message: we can celebrate our own identities while respecting others.”

The competition’s promotional video can be viewed below. 

Source: FAI TV/YouTube

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Gavin Cooney

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