Belfast Telegraph

Keeping European places is important to us, says All-Island chief Lucid

 

Big plans: Kieran Lucid will host the meeting in Dundalk
Big plans: Kieran Lucid will host the meeting in Dundalk

By Steven Beacom

Irish League and League of Ireland clubs will tonight hear that the plan is for them not to lose any European places should the new All-Island League proposals go ahead.

European football brings in huge amounts of money to successful clubs in each league – Linfield made over £1 million from their heroics this season. Sceptics could rightly argue that UEFA may cut down the European places on offer to Irish clubs if two leagues become one.

Kieran Lucid, the visionary behind the All-Island League plan, has been working with former English FA general secretary Alex Horne behind the scenes. Lucid is well aware how important the European issue is.

“Alex has spoken to former colleagues at the FA and other Associations and had discussions with people connected with UEFA,” said Lucid.

“We will talk about that at the meeting with the clubs on Thursday. We have a lot of detail from them on that. There is no appetite for us to lose any European places.

“We know how valuable they are and the advice we are getting from European level is that we shouldn’t offer to give them up. Part of the meeting will be taken up with what is best from a football point of view and what is best from a UEFA political point of view in terms of retention of places in Europe."

The potential new structure will also be debated tomorrow in Dundalk, where clubs from north and south will meet to discuss Lucid’s radical idea.

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He will explain why he feels a new three tier league containing 14 teams in the top division and 10 each in two regionalised leagues is the way to go.

The 34 clubs would be made up of 20 League of Ireland sides, 12 Irish Premiership outfits and two from the Championship. It is thought the top eight southern and top five northern sides would be in the top division with the other place determined by a play-off between the first division champions in the League of Ireland and sixth placed side in the Premiership.

While that may wash with northern clubs, it is expected few would see Lucid’s vision of a 2021 start as realistic especially as the dates of their season would likely need to be changed to suit the League of Ireland calendar. It promises to be quite a meeting in Dundalk.

Lucid says: “Football is huge on the island of Ireland. It is the biggest sport. It’s just that domestic football doesn’t have close to that broader football support. We want to change that and believe we can.”

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