Clubs from both sides of the border plan to meet again in late November or early December for further discussions on a proposed All-Island League.
For the first time since Kieran Lucid unveiled his ambitious plans for a radical revamping of the club football on the island, the Kerry entrepreneur addressed representatives of clubs from both the Irish League and the League of Ireland in the one room at a meeting in a Dundalk hotel tonight.
It was never planned for a vote to take place at the meeting which ran for more than three hours and which one League of Ireland club official present described as “very positive and leaving people with much more certainty about the way forward.”
Dundalk Chief Executive Mark Devlin tweeted afterwards: “Excellent presentation from the All-Island League team this evening. Of course there will be challenges but nothing worthwhile is ever achieved without hard work. It is definitely a very exciting project and there is great potential but obviously there is more work to be done.”
A video campaign to publicise and promote the plan will be rolled out over the coming weeks and there will be further intensive engagement with clubs, supporters, players, journalists, economists, volunteers, government and all other interested parties, to produce detailed data which can be analysed with a view to highlighting the long-term viability of the project for potential broadcasters and sponsors.
The plan for an All Island League would, if it comes to fruition, see the introduction of 14-team top flight division supported by two regional leagues allowing for promotion and relegation.
There has reportedly already been at least one expression of interest in TV rights to the tune of €1 million, with overall revenue – including from sponsorship and data rights as well as broadcasting rights - projected at €10 million per annum.
If such deals were struck, it would mean hugely improved prize money for the clubs. Currently, the League of Ireland champions receive €110,000 but, under the All-Island proposals, the winners would expect to receive around €800,000 and there would be related improvements in the earnings of all the clubs below them.
But before Lucid and his group can have substantial discussions with commercial interests, he must first secure firm commitments from the clubs to back the plan for the new league which, if given the green light, is scheduled to kick off in 2021.