St Patrick's Athletic are set to merge with Dublin minnows St Francis to make one single club who will play in the premier division of the eircom League. The new club will play their games at Richmond Park in Inchicore, while the existing St Francis ground at Baldonnel will be used as a training pitch.

This merger will come as a surprise to the eircom League and will leave St Francis players unsure about their future. St Francis secretary Alan Duncan revealed that Dolan will manage the side, while current Francis manager John Noonan will be his assistant. "It will be a marriage between the two clubs and not a takeover," stressed Duncan. "We have been in discussions with St Pat's for a considerable period. This is not a decision that was taken lightly and both clubs will benefit from the move. I would like to make it clear to fans of both clubs that it is a positive move." Saints manager Pat Dolan and Francis director Sean Foley have been meeting regularly over the last few months to discuss the proposals.

St Francis were elected to the eircom League in 1995. The merger raises doubts about the development of Richmond Park, which recently received planning permission after an application to develop the stadium.

Filed by Greg McKevitt