The future direction of the SSE Airtricity League will be decided at a club convention in November, the Football Association of Ireland have announced. On Tuesday night, a meeting took place in Tallaght and all 20 current Airtricity League clubs were represented.
The format of the league has caused much debate in the last few years with many believing that a total re-haul is needed. An eight-club group presented a set of proposals to the remaining clubs who will be asked to vote on whether to support the changes or not in November.
Many believe that an All-Island league between Airtricity League clubs and Irish League clubs is necessary for the game to thrive on the island of Ireland.
A Governance Review Group report was drafted in June with recommendations on how to re-structure the Football Association of Ireland and many believe now is the perfect time to re-structure our domestic league.
For many years, the only change has been the quantity of teams in the Premier and First Division.
In the past 14 years the number of teams in each division has changed on several occasions, some out of necessity due to teams dropping out unexpectedly and others with a view to improving standard. However, the attendances and standard of football have not improved significantly enough to say it has been a success.
Speaking to RTE after the meeting, former Limerick FC goalkeeper and current FAI General Manager Noel Mooney was happy with the progress made.
What was clear again today is that we all want the same things- Greater interest, bigger attendances, revenues and viewership figures, better facilities, youth academies and a number of other key pillars required to achieve our ambitions.
We believe a course has now been plotted that excites and empowers the clubs to strive for more. Notwithstanding the external discussions on an All-Island League which continues to be of interest to our clubs, the way forward is now clearer should the clubs decide to take it.
It remains to be seen whether Limerick FC will form part of any structural change in the Airtricity League as the clubs very existence is unclear.
The Shannonsiders went into examinership last month before the completion of the Airtricity League First Division campaign. Significant investment needs to be found exceptionally soon for the club to surive.
Also, significant debts must be cleared with the club’s creditors which include University of Limerick and Limerick Institute of Technology where Limerick FC trained for the majority of the past decade.
While Mooney has indicated that rising attendances and interest are the key focus, this writer discussed whether the people of Limerick want a senior soccer team in the country’s third biggest city. The article can be read below