The proposers of an All-Island league have clarified their position, as they continue their quest to form a new professional football league in Ireland.
The "altruistic advisory group" are planning to initiate a multi-stakeholder data and opinion-gathering process over the coming months, while deciding on the best format for the proposed league.
A statement released by the group, which includes Kerry businessman Kieran Lucid, former Ireland manager Brian Kerr and former UCD AFC board member Brendan Dillion, also outlined what was spoken about at their meeting with the respective clubs in Dundalk last month.
"The reaction of the clubs to the Dundalk meeting was positive, and the consensus was that clubs wish to hear more," read the statement.
"Accordingly, we plan to continue with the roadmap we have outlined, namely in respect of our engagement with Hypercube and the relevant football stakeholders, and at all times we welcome the input of the two Football Associations."
In conjunction with Dutch sports consultancy Hypercube, the group informed the clubs that they had decided to broaden the possible formats under consideration as a result of concerns relating to the retention of UEFA places, funding and the IFA's desire to safeguard the NIFL.
They have also incorporated the concerns and views of fans, while they feel that the best format cannot be determined until they have received requested data from the clubs concerned.
Future plans include the initiation of a multi-stakeholder data and opinion-gathering process, including the respective football associations, the IFA and FAI, the clubs, players, coaches, fans, media and the governments.
The Danish Superliga continues to be put forward as a relevant example, in that it has acquired a television deal in excess of €50m per year, despite having one million less people than the island of Ireland.
"Our financial projections are based on sincere and promising discussions with broadcasters, sponsors and other stakeholders," the statement added.
"But of course nothing is certain until a format is agreed and a deal is signed subject to FA approvals, removing the need for a leap of faith on the part of the clubs or FAs."
The IFA said last week that they would not sanction such an endeavour, however Lucid confirmed shortly afterwards that "the work would continue".
Read the full statement below
All-Island League Advocacy Group Public Statement
We would like to provide an update on the progress of the All-Island League initiative. We remain an altruistic advocacy group that is passionate about football. In Dundalk on October 24th, we and Dutch sports consultancy Hypercube informed the clubs of our decision to broaden the possible formats under consideration beyond what had been presented to the FAs and other stakeholders up to that point. This decision was driven by:
- a recognition of prior concerns expressed to us, including the retention of UEFA places & funding, and the IFA's desire to safeguard NIFL and the gains it has achieved
- concerns and views of fans that we have interviewed and spoken to
- Hypercube’s advice that we would not yet know which formats work best until their models have the necessary data from the clubs
Hypercube’s plan is to initiate a multi-stakeholder data & opinion gathering process over the coming months, which includes stakeholder forums with the FAs, clubs, players, coaches, fans, media and the governments, to garner all views in order to come up with a structure that works for all. The Danish Superliga structure that has been an influence on our group due to its impressive attendances and TV deals in excess of €50 million per year, despite having 1 million less people than the island of Ireland, was facilitated by Hypercube and the final format resulted from a proposal from their fan stakeholder group.
Our financial projections are based on sincere and promising discussions with broadcasters, sponsors and other stakeholders, but of course nothing is certain until a format is agreed and a deal is signed subject to FA approvals, removing the need for a leap of faith on the part of the clubs or FAs.
While we recognise the gains that NIFL has achieved since its inception in 2013, IFA & FAI clubs continue to live in what is a uniquely challenging environment in European professional sport. Not only do they have to compete with GAA & Rugby, but English & Scottish football hold significant sway over their support bases. Many clubs live a Spartan existence with significant financial uncertainty, putting severe strain on club personnel.
Growing the Football Economy through regular cross-border competition gives clubs both large and small a better chance of keeping their brightest stars at home for longer, helping our clubs qualify regularly for European group stage competition, which will entice our mature stars home sooner, and ultimately strengthen the player pool for the 2 national teams. On this note, it is encouraging to see the 2 FAs openness to cross-border competition.
The reaction of the clubs to the Dundalk meeting was positive, and the consensus was that clubs wish to hear more. Accordingly, we plan to continue with the roadmap we have outlined, namely in respect of our engagement with Hypercube and the relevant football stakeholders, and at all times we welcome the input of the two Football Associations.
The All-Island League Advocacy Group