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Derry City urges clubs to support All-Island League plans amid 'fragility' of current situation



Derry City's Brandywell Stadium

Derry City's Brandywell Stadium

©INPHO/Evan Logan

Kieran Lucid

Kieran Lucid

Derry City's Brandywell Stadium

Derry City have encouraged clubs in the north and south to give the fresh All-Island League proposal serious consideration.

The proposed format for the initiative would see all-island champions crowned via a knockout competition.

This event would take place at the end of a split season where the League of Ireland and Irish League would retain independence by declaring their own champions.

Kerry businessman Kieran Lucid has driven the plan to merge the leagues north and south with the help of Dutch experts Hybercube.

Clubs were consulted on possible new formats and Derry City issued a statement on their website yesterday arguing that the plan should be considered closely.

The north west club feel that the Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the financial fragility of clubs and that a new structure is needed.

There remains scepticism and opposition to the plans, particularly from the Irish Football Association and some Irish League clubs, but City feel there is the potential for real change.

The club stated: "This is a seminal moment in the well being and even existence of professional football on this island.

"Presently, we have two football leagues, both precarious in structure and financial viability.

"The consequence of the coronavirus has added to the difficulties of maintaining a football club.

"Continuing financial outgoings with no sustaining incomes makes it very difficult for most clubs to keep their heads above the financial waters.

"More than likely it will make it disastrous for some."

City went on to hammer home the need for a better financial model.

The statement continued: “The pandemic has exposed the underlying fragility of the present model. In pure business terms it is not viable. There is not enough income being generated to sustain the business. Great efforts are made to keep clubs in existence, but those efforts can only be limited as they lack the finances to grow the business. 

“The historical relationships between the two leagues and their governing bodies, the IFA in Northern Ireland and the FAI in the south, have not been as constructive and creative as most clubs might have wished.

“We understand the natural tensions that often exist between governing bodies and clubs but it is time to acknowledge the tenuous state of both Leagues and to recognise that neither the FAI or the IFA have had the local leagues at the top of their ambitions.

“It always shocks fans when they discover that the prize money for winning the League in the north is £22,000 and in the southern league the prize money is €110,000.

“Pitted against the reality that it takes over £1,000,000 a year to maintain a medium successful club and the financial difficulties become apparent.”

City now hope the FAI and Irish FA identify the potential for a brighter future in the new proposals.

The club added: “We are informed that the IFA and the FAI have agreed to jointly examine the report. We see this as creative and important. 

“That examination will be more authoritative if those two organisations are aware of the extent of the support that exists within the island among the clubs for an expression of professional football that is vibrant and capable of achieving the same support and success of comparable leagues.

“Derry City wishes to affirm and support the sense and the urgency of the findings contained in the report.

“We would encourage other clubs to acknowledge the fragility of the present arrangements and to join in supporting the possibilities that an All-Island League would release.”

Belfast Telegraph