A working group to create a vision for the future of League of Ireland football has been revived.
The SSE Airtricity League Working Group first met last July at Abbotstown, and will now reconvene with the FAI represented on the group for the first time.
The decision was made during a conference call between FAI representatives Gary Owens, Niall Quinn, and Fran Gavin, and the National League Executive Committee, who represent the 19 clubs in the League.
Delegates from Bray Wanderers, Cork City, Derry City, Drogheda United, Dundalk, Galway United, Shamrock Rovers, and Sligo Rovers will represent the clubs on the Working Group.
“Today’s meeting was hugely positive and progressive,” said NLEC chairperson Noel Byrne.
“The clubs are delighted to get the Working Group up and running again and the addition of FAI representation signifies the Association’s intent to work with the clubs on a brighter future for Irish football. We welcome this outcome.”
FAI interim deputy CEO Niall Quinn referenced the challenges the already truncated League faces during the current lockdown but says all possibilities will be explored to ensure the League prospers upon its resumption.
“There is a lot of optimism now about where the SSE Airtricity League can go and the Association will give this Working Group our full support,” said Quinn.
“I talk a lot about the art of the possible and so much is possible now for our game as the Working Group puts together a roadmap for the future that we can present to all 19 League clubs with confidence and excitement.
“The clubs have given the Working Group a mandate to investigate all possibilities for our game.
“These are challenging times for Ireland and for Irish sport with the current Covid-19 lockdown but we will do everything we can to ensure our League is ready to prosper when football returns.”
Meanwhile, Shamrock Rovers today announced that players and staff have accepted a 25% wage cut.
“Shamrock Rovers only exists today because of the dedication and commitment of so many of our great supporters who saved the club from extinction in 2005,” said head coach Stephen Bradley.
“Despite all of our progress, we must recognise that every business and every family is going through an extremely difficult period right now. Our responsibility is to safeguard and protect everything that we have worked so hard to build and so we must move to protect the long-term interests and ambitions of the football club.”
Speaking about his squad and staff, McPhail added:
They do not earn huge salaries. Like us all, they have mortgages to pay and bills to worry about. But despite that, they have shown the compassion, foresight, and capability to recognise that it falls on us all to help protect a football club which is very close to our hearts.
The club says it will continue to review its cost base and, as the situation unfolds, make “whatever decisions are required to sustain the club into the future”.
It came as Sinn Féin TD for Cork South-Central Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire called for Government intervention to help safeguard clubs.
“It cannot be taken for granted that domestic football will continue no matter what. Most clubs are teetering on the edge.
"If some support isn't provided, then many will struggle to remain in existence, including some of the biggest names in Irish football.
“The issue of football's sustainability is being discussed worldwide. But due to a lack of interest by successive ministers, it is not featuring in the sporting commentary around Covid-19 here as much as it should.
“We need a strategy - something that will complement and guide the work of the SSE Airtricity League Working Group.”