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Gareth McAuley: All-Ireland league is not the answer for our top clubs

Both of the traditional Belfast big two are open to further discussions on the cross-border proposals.
Both of the traditional Belfast big two are open to further discussions on the cross-border proposals.
Gareth McAuley

By Gareth McAuley

I think there are a few envious eyes in the Republic who want a piece of our Irish League pie and I would be reluctant to offer them a slice and sign up to the proposed new All-Island League.

It just doesn't make sense to me and is a gamble our clubs do not need to take.

Our League is in a really good place at the moment with the standard of play continually improving, attendances on the terraces up, the infrastructure is great, there is solid sponsorship, TV deals with Sky and BBC plus more and more teams are going fully professional. I would fear it may ruin the smaller sides in the Premiership who rely on the likes of Linfield visiting for much needed revenue.

My hometown club of Larne have had a resurgence in recent years on and off the field. Inver Park is packed these days and they are regularly taking 400/500 crowds to away games.

Would that be the same for Cork City at Turner's Cross on a Saturday afternoon? I doubt it. Maybe as a one-off but the furthest most fans want to travel is Coleraine.

Money will have the final say in this proposal and I can see why it is an attractive opportunity and some clubs may want to cash in.

But when you have a good thing going, don't get greedy.

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