The 2005 eircom League season was officially launched today with clubs ready to battle it out for a share of the biggest-ever prize fund of E450,000.
And with the added bonus of the most extensive television coverage of the league comprising a total of 22 matches being broadcast live or as live, the 2005 season is set to be the most exciting and competitive since the arrival of summer soccer two years ago.
In another welcome development, a Scottish Football Association referee will take charge of the Premier Division fixture between Cork City and Drogheda United at Turner's Cross on Friday, 22 April. This is part of a reciprocal arrangement between the FAI and the SFA and which is supported by UEFA. In return, an eircom League referee will officiate at a Scottish Football League match this season.
It is hoped to establish similar exchange programmes with both the Irish Football Association and the Football Association of Wales in the coming months.
Republic of Ireland senior international team manager Brian Kerr helped launch the new season while the event at the Coach House, Dublin Castle was also attended by managers, team captains and officials from all 22 eircom League clubs.
Speaking at the launch, Paddy McCaul, eircom League Chairman said: "The 2005 season promises to be the most exciting and interesting to date in the eircom League. With vastly improved prizemoney in both divisions, an unprecedented level of television coverage and the ongoing improvement of facilities under the UEFA Club Licensing programme, the future is very bright for Irish domestic soccer".
Meanwhile, at this afternoon's eircom League Special General Meeting, Eamon Naughton of Galway United was elected Honorary Treasurer of the eircom League.
Following an election, the remaining two vacancies on the Board of Control were filled by Tony Connaughton of Athlone Town and Barry Walsh of Cobh Ramblers.
The Disciplinary Procedures for the 2005 season were also agreed at the meeting.