SSE Airtricity League Next Steps in Play Today

The future of the SSE Airtricity League of Ireland will take centre stage in Tallaght this afternoon when the clubs will make their call on the next steps for the domestic game.

All 20 LOI clubs will come together with the FAI and stakeholders from the Professional Footballers Association, the newly formed League Manager’s Association and the supporters’ network for a major strategy seminar.

The action will take place at the home of Shamrock Rovers as it prepares for a completely sold out Euro 2021 Women’s Qualifier against Ukraine.

The seminar, a follow-up to a July meeting at FAI Headquarters, will be preceded by the final session of the Working Group established in the summer to determine the League’s future.

Eight clubs are represented on the working group and their vision for how the League will operate in the future will be presented to all 20 clubs during the afternoon.

A number of external submissions have been considered by the Working Group who have also taken advice from UEFA experts as they formulate their plans to transform the League of Ireland.

Neither of the groups behind highly publicised  plans by Kieran Lucid and Niall Quinn will be present. Lucid’s plans for an All-Ireland League are said to be still alive and there are plans to bring clubs from North and South together to see if this can be developed further in the near future.

According to a statement issued yesterday by the FAI though Niall Quinn’s Visionary Group “have withdrawn from the process after presenting to the clubs at the July forum in Abbottstown.”

Questions had been raised over the level of detail in the plan and that has also got mixed up in Quinn’s opposition to members from the previous Board being reelected to the new Board at the Summer AGM.

Four new Board members are expected to be announced shortly, as well as the new Independent Chair and it is also thought that President Donal Conway will step down at that time.

FAI General Manager Noel Mooney will open Tuesday’s seminar in Tallaght with the Association keen to reach a consensus on the League’s future before the Extra.ie FAI Cup Final at the start of November.

“It is a priority of the FAI and the clubs to find a good plan for the future of professional football in Ireland,” he said.

“The Working Group, which has met a number of times recently, will present the options to all clubs and other key stakeholders at this Seminar so that we can set deadlines for decisions to be made.”

“We all desperately want an ever-improving and growing professional football industry in Ireland with a successful League of Ireland at the heart of that.”

“We do not have time to waste and we hope that the clubs can make a big decision before the FAI Cup Final in November so that we can build a better future for Irish football.”

The League of Ireland clubs are represented on the 2019 Board of the FAI by Martin Heraghty from Sligo Rovers and Dick Shakespeare from UCD.

The Working Group consists of representatives from Bray Wanderers, Cork City, Derry City, Drogheda United, Dundalk, Galway United, Shamrock Rovers and Sligo Rovers.

Image Credit: Inpho.ie

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