Belfast Telegraph

NI Football League meet with proposers of new All-Ireland League as FAI boss advises 'everything is on the table'

Competitive cross-border football has not been played since the Setanta Cup was wound up in 2014.
Competitive cross-border football has not been played since the Setanta Cup was wound up in 2014.
Niall Quinn

Irish League clubs have met with a group proposing the establishment of an all-island league.

Kerry-born entrepreneur Kieran Lucid is driving plans for a cross-border league and has contacted clubs to try and explain his vision.

It's believed that former Republic of Ireland manager Brian Kerr is involved in discussions around Lucid's idea.

The NI Football League has confirmed that both the leader's administration and clubs have recently met those behind the proposal, although stress that no formal talks have taken place. The Irish FA has not held any discussions with the group.

"Following media reports regarding the proposed concept of an ‘All Island League’, the NI Football League can confirm that we are aware of this independent plan," read a NIFL statement.

"The NI Football League administration recently met with the architects of this proposal to keep informed of the proposal rather than receive information third hand from clubs who have held discussions with the group.

"The NI Football League have held no formal discussion on the matter as there is no formal proposal to consider.

"If and until a proposal is provided and given consideration by the NI Football League and club representatives, there will be no further comment on this matter."

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The group proposing the move as well as the consortium led by Niall Quinn have been invited by the FAI to speak at a forum to discuss the future of the League of Ireland.

It's understood that interim FAI boss Noel Mooney is arranging a gathering for Abbotstown next month that will be centred around the direction of the league.

Mooney has indicated to the various parties that "everything is on the table" in the discussion.

Clubs, referees and players are amongst the stakeholders that will be represented at the gathering.

Quinn's group made headlines at the beginning of the year when the ex-Irish striker and Sunderland chairman called for a revamp of the league driven by the construction of academies with government backing.

Quinn’s ‘Visionary Group’ released a document around the stakeholders forum organised by Minister for Sport Shane Ross — an event where the TD stepped up his criticism of Mooney’s appointment.

However, Mooney said earlier this week that he has spoken with Lucid and the Quinn camp. Talks are building towards the gathering where both men will speak for 30 minutes on behalf of their respective groups.

Ultimately, they will be making a pitch for involvement beyond 2020 as time is running out to implement any changes to structure ahead of next season.

The future of the league was a major discussion point for the FAI at the beginning of a year which has turned out to be one of the most dramatic in their history.

Plans to establish a new third-party company — run as a partnership between the clubs and the FAI — were stalled by the crisis at FAI HQ.

Representatives of Premier League and First Division clubs have joined the National League Executive Committee, which met yesterday. They convened ahead of today’s release of the recommendations of the Governance Review Group established between the FAI and Sport Ireland.

That group were tasked with drafting proposals for the governance of Irish football —their suggestions will have to be brought to the FAI Council and voted through at next month’s AGM.

Plans include attempts to build towards a situation where there are four females on the FAI board.

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