| 8.5°C Belfast

Irish League stars to set up new players' union with FIFPro support


Irish League players are putting plans in place to form a union for the first time.

Irish League players are putting plans in place to form a union for the first time.

Irish League players are putting plans in place to form a union for the first time.

Plans are under way to introduce a new players' union to Irish League football, Sunday Life can reveal.

Domestic footballers have not had an association akin to the PFA in England or the PFAI in the Republic of Ireland to turn to for support, guidance and advice.

But with the Danske Bank Premiership becoming more popular and professional and pressures increasing due to more exposure and social media, players have been crying out for a union.

Sunday Life has learned that the new body will be set up in the coming months using the expertise of current and former players.

"We have been thinking about this for a couple of years and feel the time is right to set up a body for players to get support and guidance (from) if they join," said one former player involved in the plans.

"We recently conducted a survey of players and the overwhelming feedback we received was that 97% of players were interested in the establishment of a PFA-type body.

"The association will be predominantly funded by money that is available from the World Players' Union, FIFPro, with players being asked to contribute no more than a few pounds per week. The benefits will far outweigh any cost."

Services that the proposed group would like to help players with include:

  • Drawing up a standard player's contract;
  • Financial advice;
  • Career guidance and providing a pathway to employment opportunities;
  • Legal representation and support with contractual and disciplinary issues;
  • Advice and support on mental health issues, gambling and alcohol addiction;
  • Assisting players to obtain coaching qualifications;

"We firmly believe that this is achievable and there is funding available from FIFPro and other sources to set it up," added our source.

Leading and well-respected Irish League players tried to set up a similar body more than 20 years ago, but the project didn't get off the ground due to player apathy.

"Back then, it was a different model that required players to make a substantial financial contribution, but that would not be the case this time around, with players only being expected to make a nominal weekly contribution," our source said.

"We understand that the Irish FA and NI Football League are broadly receptive to the idea and we are hopeful of getting the association up and running in the near future."

Belfast Telegraph