The group behind the proposal for an All-Island league in domestic football have revealed the findings of the information gathering they did prior to the shutdown of sport and have made them available to the clubs and the public.

The preferred option of full integration of the leagues did not gather enough support in Northern Ireland so the optimum split-season format is the final recommendation as outlined in the video presentation here.

This format maintains a Champion in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and retains all UEFA club competition places as is currently the case.

It gives rise to a regular-season split into 22 games against teams in ‘own’ jurisdiction leagues followed by a hybrid 13 match runoff that contributes both to the existing SSE Airtricity and Danske Bank titles but also to what has been given the working title of ‘King of the Island.’

The report suggests that the League would be eligible for initial funding a part of the Peace Plus fund of €650 million that is running between 2021 to 2027. Discussions have been held with officials in the respective government departments in Dublin and Belfast.

The momentum behind the initiative could have been halted entirely by the disruption of COVID-19 but that may also give more time for it to be considered in light of a broad reset that is already being considered across football on the island.

It is always good to have something concrete to consider and to tweak.

“This study was concluded in early March 2020 before the lockdown restrictions were put in place. There can be no doubt that the financial projections made in the study will be negatively impacted, at least in the near term,” according to the group behind the plans that include Ciaran medlar, Catherin Toolan, Brian Kerr and the man central to the concept, Kieran Lucid.

“As the situation is still evolving daily, what is more difficult to estimate is the scale of the impact. It is reasonable to expect that match day income, which forms a higher percentage of clubs’ income here than in the larger leagues around Europe, will be depressed for some time, and it is likely to have a dampening effect on sponsorship opportunities over the coming 6-12 months.”

“Other pillars of income such as peace funding may be more robust, but again it’s difficult to say.
These are headwinds that all of football must face, but this does not change the fact that ‘Scenario 4’ presents a more compelling sporting and financial proposition than the current formats, and this will remain so in a post-Coronavirus climate. Moreover, given that the projections are based on a 5 to 10-year horizon, there is every reason to start planning now for the long term health of the game, and to be hopeful for when restrictions are lifted.”

It will be interesting over the coming weeks to see just how much support the proposal gains from clubs, officials and fans.

Sport for Business will host an informal meeting for Members tomorrow morning, April 28th at 11 AM to look at a number of the scenarios that are being planned for around a return to sporting activities. Reserve your place right here.

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