Northern Ireland Football League and IFA cast doubt over new champions cup game

The Northern Ireland Football League (NIFL) and the Irish FA have poured cold water over the FAI's announcement a new cross-border competition.

It was announced only today at the launch of the new SSE Airtricity League season that the winners of the League of Ireland will play the winners of the Northern Irish Premiership at the end of the 2019 season in a new cup final.

However, the NIFL has stated that while they were aware of discussions around the game between the FAI and Irish FA they did not expect a formal announcement to come "at this stage".

A statement on the NIFL website reads:

    "The NI Football League note today’s announcement at the SSE Airtricity League Launch regarding the potential formation of a new competition between the winners of the of the Danske Bank Premiership and SSE Airtricity League.

    "We were aware that initial discussions had taken place between the Irish FA and FAI but did not expect any formal announcements at this stage.

    "We look forward to consultation and receiving further detail regarding this opportunity, which we will consider with our member clubs."

FAI Director of Competitions Fran Gavin announced the two-legged competition today, saying: "We've seen some fantastic spectacles and occasions from cross-border competitions like the Setanta Sports Cup in the past and we're delighted to work with the IFA in reintroducing it to the domestic football calendar."

Upon being asked for comment, the Irish FA said: "While nothing has been confirmed at this stage, discussions about a potential new cross-border game between the NIFL Premiership Champions and the winners of the League of Ireland have been going on for the past few months.

"The Irish FA welcomes exploring the format which could bring substantial revenues for the clubs involved both in terms of prize money and gate receipts. The Irish FA will continue to work to ensure therefore that any new competition works for the good of clubs and the league in Northern Ireland."

The FAI have been asked for comment.

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