The previously mooted cross-border competition between the Airtricity League Premier Division champions and the Danske Bank Premiership winners has officially been announced this afternoon. 

The tournament is titled the 'Unite the Union Champions Cup' and will see the reigning league champions on either side of the border play a two-legged tie final. 

The first leg of the inaugural edition of the competition will take place on 8 November.

2018-19 Danske Bank Premiership champions Linfield are already pencilled in for this year's event with the winners of the 2019 Airtricity League Premier Division set to line out against them. 

The competition is named in honour of the 'Unite' trade union, who have signed a three year deal to sponsor the tournament, providing €50,000 for the winners, €25,000 for the runners-up and a further €25,000 for community projects in the competing teams' local areas. 

FAI director of competitions Fran Gavin had previously announced the new cross-border competition at the launch of this year's League of Ireland season back in February, only for the IFA to subsequently dampen this enthusiasm, saying that discussions were at an early stage and they hadn't expected a formal announcement. 

However, the new competition has now been agreed. 

Today, Gavin was able to formally reveal the tournament, saying clubs and players were excited to see the return of a cross-border competition, the first since the Setanta Cup was discontinued in 2015. 

"We're delighted to formally announce the Unite the Union Champions Cup and we're extremely excited for the competition to begin.

"I'd like to thank the IFA, in particular Patrick Nelson, who have been fantastic to work with on the project and it's great to see a cross-border tournament return. The clubs and players in the SSE Airtricity League are incredibly excited to see a competition like this back on the domestic calendar."

Patrick Nelson, chief executive of the Irish FA, said: "This is a fantastic new cross-border competition and one that I am sure will capture the imagination of football fans right across the island of Ireland. 

"I would like to thank Unite the Union for their sponsorship, especially for ring-fencing a significant sum for community projects. This is a competition that will bring people together and one that will have lasting benefits for clubs as well as fans."

Brendan Ogle, senior officer in the Republic of Ireland for Unite, said: "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."