Rummenigge backs league break from IFA
Irish League chiefs will have one of the world's biggest clubs and one of the most powerful men in European football on their side as the attempt to breathe new life into the game in Northern Ireland.
The Northern Ireland Football League will break away from the Irish FA next week, under plans that have been in place for the last five years and former Germany international Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has offered to help ensure that domestic football here emerges from the changeover in a healthy state.
Rummenigge is now chairman of his old club Bayern Munich and he also chairs the European Club Association, of which Cliftonville, Glentoran and Linfield are members.
Linfield board member Jack Grundie, who has been elected as chairman of the NIFL, revealed: "I had lunch with Karl-Heinz Rummenigge at one of the ECA meetings and he wants to help us.
"He has assured us that any help, advice or assistance that he personally, Bayern Munich, the Bavarian FA and the ECA can give us will be available and it is positive to have that kind of strength on our side as we try to move this new league structure forward."
The NIFL will now stand alone in running the flagship league in the country – in the same way as the FA Premier League in England is a separate body to the Football Association – as well as the top divisions in intermediate football; Belfast Telegraph Championship 1 and Championship 2
As part of the legal agreement the NIFL will have a budget of £1.5m for the next four years, part of which will be subsidised by the IFA, with the rest coming from sponsorship and television rights.
Former Linfield midfielder Peter Dornan will hold a key position within the new league.
He was voted on as one of two independent board members at last night's first AGM, along with Dublin businessman David McHugh – a former European sailing champion – and Dornan will have the status of the league's 'special shareholder.'
Although the league management committee can propose and vote on changes, nothing can be altered without Dornan's say so.
The official changeover date is June 1, when three members of the current IFA staff will transfer to work for the NIFL.
The post of Managing Director of the league, from which former Army Lieutenant colonel Colin Marks resigned in March, is expected to be filled through a secondment from the IFA within a matter of days before the permanent position is advertised.
Negotiations with a new sponsor, which will be over all leagues, are understood to be at an advanced stage, with an announcement anticipated long before the new season begins.
The NIFL itself will kick-off on Saturday August 10.