Crusaders vice-chairman Mark Langhammer believes Danske Bank Premiership clubs have made the right move in seeking guidance from Uefa on the All-Island League proposals.
While the Irish FA remain firmly opposed to the plan, the Crues chief is arguing that debate on the issue should not be shut down.
It has emerged that 10 Irish League clubs have written to the IFA to request a proposal for an All-Island League is forwarded to Uefa. The letter has been signed by every Premiership club except Dungannon and Cliftonville.
The proposal involves Irish League sides playing 22 games before a split, with the top six then progressing into an All-Island League along with the top eight League of Ireland teams to compete for the King of the Island Cup.
This new format, backed by Dutch media company Hypercube, has sparked considerable debate and Langhammer says clubs are right to request further information and analysis.
"It's my feeling that the Irish FA are closing down debate when they could be exploring opportunities," argued the Seaview chief.
"We would all like to see more investment in local football and the clubs' letter to Uefa reflects that desire to see improvements in our game.
"The letter is a commitment to fully test the 'commercials' in the All-Island League case, and to hear Uefa views - it's not a decision on the format itself.
"From Crusaders' perspective, that decision will be taken by season ticket-holding members, and only when a fully formed proposal with Uefa views can be presented."
Langhammer was last year warned by the Irish FA about his future conduct regarding comments made about the Association but the Crues chief holds strong views on this matter.
IFA president David Martin has expressed his opposition to All-Island League proposals and the Association are making no further comment at his stage.
The clubs’ letter, sent to IFA chief executive Patrick Nelson, reads: “We are writing to you in relation to the matter of the split-season, Scenario 4 ‘King of the Island Cup’ format as articulated by Hypercube & AIL Working Group.
“We feel that it is too early for clubs to be able to make a definitive decision on whether or not to sign up to this format.
“However, to explore the potential finances and sporting advantages of this proposal, we formally request that the proposal be submitted to Uefa for consideration.
“Should Uefa take a favourable view of the proposal, we will then be in a better position to speak to commercial partners, public bodies and peace bodies for funding.
“Once the clubs are satisfied that the required funding has been secured, and will be distributed in such a manner so as not to see the smaller clubs left behind, we will then be in a better position to take on views of our members and other stakeholders to make a decision on whether or not to proceed with this structure.
“We acknowledge the gains made under the NIFL system, and welcome the Irish FA’s stated goal in its five-year plan of seeing NIFL break into Europe’s top 40 leagues. In what is a very challenging time for clubs North & South, we consider it prudent to evaluate all options that can help realise this goal. We therefore formally request this proposal be forwarded to Uefa for consideration, and we trust we can rely on you to do so on our behalf.”
Meanwhile, there was a departure from Seaview yesterday, with former Glentoran and Linfield defender Sean Ward joining Glenavon on a two-year deal.
“I’m really excited with this new challenge at Glenavon,” said Ward. “You always have something to prove and I can’t wait to get back training.
“I’d like to say a massive thank you to Crusaders for a brilliantly successful three years. I loved every minute of it and was very privileged to have represented the club. They are amazing people who made me so very welcome. Best of luck to the club.”
Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton said: “He will bring us the experience and winning mentality we need at the club.”
Lee Chapman has agreed a new deal with Carrick Rangers while Hanover’s management duo Steven Hynds and Dean Crowe have become part of manager Matthew Tipton’s development squad coaching team at Portadown.
Competitive football, meanwhile, will return to Northern Ireland next week with the Junior Cup semi-finals kicking off. Enniskillen Rangers will face Bessbrook United on Monday (7.45pm) at Tandragee Road, home of Annagh United.
NFC Kesh and Willowbank will also meet at Holm Park on Monday (7.45pm).
• Stoke City have confirmed they have released Northern Ireland Under-21 international Jake Dunwoody.
The midfielder impressed under new Northern Ireland manager Ian Baraclough in the Under-21 set-up and scored in October in the 2-1 defeat to Denmark in the European Under-21 Championship qualifying campaign.