'A once in a lifetime opportunity': All-Island League gathers momentum with requests for Uefa involvement

20 of the 22 Premier Division clubs on the island have requested their associations contact Uefa about the concept
'A once in a lifetime opportunity': All-Island League gathers momentum with requests for Uefa involvement

Bohemians issued a statement on the All-Island League today. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Bohemians believe the All-Island League is "a once in a lifetime opportunity" as Kieran Lucid’s cross-border concept gathers pace.

The prospects of the new league are fast increasing after every one of the FAI's Premier Division clubs last night put their name to a letter requesting the Association to contact Uefa.

A statement from the Gypsies today said: “The Bohemian Football Club has, along with all fellow Premier Division clubs, signed a letter submitted to the FAI urging them to submit the proposal for an All-Island League to Uefa for consideration. We believe this offers a once in a lifetime opportunity and must be pursued.” 

A similar letter was issued last week by all bar two members of Northern Ireland’s Premier Division, meaning 20 of the 22 are in favour of initiating the concept.

Businessman Lucid, aided by a team of experts including Brian Kerr, have been driving the project over the past two years, only to suffer setbacks along the way with opposition from the Irish Football Association (IFA) and ongoing governance turmoil at the FAI.

That hasn’t stopped them engaging with clubs, leading to a format tabled in April. The plan, known as scenario four, would see each league contest two series of games (22 fixtures) before a split funnelling the top eight from the south and six from north into a 14-team 'Golden Round'.

Ultimately, a ‘King of the Island’ competition, concluding with a knockout stage, would be decided upon but the existing European qualification berths are to be calculated by adding points from the domestic and latter phase.

FAI interim chief executive Gary Owens has been requested by the Premier Clubs Alliance (PCA) to “work constructively with the clubs, the IFA, and Uefa” on exploring the blueprint.

Covid-19, the letter adds, has only heightened the precarious landscape in the League of Ireland, exposing what they deem to be harsh economic truths.

Derry City, the only Northern Ireland club in the League of Ireland, have described the progression of Lucid’s brainchild as the “seminal moment in the well-being and even existence of professional football on this island.” 

Lucid has assembled an impressive team from both north and south. In the Republic, he’s been joined by Kerr, former League of Ireland chairman Brendan Dillon, and Robbie Keane’s agent Ciaran Medlar. Businessman Fintan Drury is another advocate participating in the movement.

Dutch firm Hypercube were tasked with conducting the research which identified their route to lifting domestic football from its slumber.

"Should Uefa support the move, then once commercial discussions have taken place and we have full financial figures, the clubs can make final decisions about the format," added the clubs in their unified letter.

Lucid’s business-plan is based on boosting broadcasting deals, from which clubs would receive enhanced prize money compared to the pittance currently paid in both jurisdictions.

Should Uefa grant the green-light, it is understood a campaign running throughout the second half of 2022 is being earmarked as the maiden season.

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