Belfast Telegraph

Hurdles must be cleared to net All-Island goal, says Coleraine chief

Coleraine chairman Colin McKendry
Coleraine chairman Colin McKendry

By Graham Luney

Coleraine chairman Colin McKendry insists big obstacles remain before an All-Ireland football dream can become a reality.

Irish League clubs were given more information on Kerry businessman Kieran Lucid's All-Island League proposal at a special presentation in Dundalk last night. But while the concept is attractive to many, doubts remain over its financial sustainability and whether northern clubs will lose their European places, with Linfield earning as much as £1m from their continental adventures this summer.

Lucid's idea is to bring the Irish League and League of Ireland together in a new structure combining clubs from both - a 14-team top tier and two 10-team regionalised leagues in time for the 2021 season.

Significant prize money, a potential lucrative television deal and sponsorship packages are being discussed and last night's meeting was aimed at addressing any concerns clubs have.

McKendry, who attended last night's meeting, feels the game in the south needs greater surgery than the Irish League and he believes northern teams could be reluctant to take such a big leap of faith.

"Coleraine will always approach these matters with an open mind but from a travelling perspective, we are geographically at a greater disadvantage to other clubs," he said.

"I think our game has a better structure than our colleagues in the south. The loss of European places is also, understandably, a concern for many clubs. I know money talks in certain scenarios but any new league must be right for football, the clubs and supporters."

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Glentoran stated last night that the meeting had been positive.

Club Director Grahame Jenkins attended the meeting and the Glens commented: "The general view of the meeting was that there was enough detail in the proposal to allow delegates to report back to their clubs that there is merit in continuing with more in depth discussions.

"This will be fully discussed by the Glentoran Board."

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