Finn Harps could be playing in a new 34 club, two-tier All-Ireland soccer league in 2021.
Ambitious proposals for the biggest shake-up in club soccer on the Ireland were divulged this week by Kerry entrepreneur Kieran Lucid.He wants to see a 14-team Premier Division comprising of eight League of Ireland clubs and five Irish League sides in an inaugural season running from May 2021 to January 2022.
The remaining spot would be following after a play-off between the League of Ireland’s First Division champions and the sixth-placed team in the Irish League.
Below that, there would be two regionalised leagues of 10 clubs each.
If the proposals come to fruition, Harps would most likely be in this second tier ten-team regionalised championship.
One of the big plus points would be that there would be considerably less travel involved, and some of Harps opponents would be in Northern Ireland.
They would only play 18 games in the league, rather than the current 36 this season!
The new entity would also run a cross-Border league cup competition.
The FAI and Irish Cups would continue to exist in their current forms.
However, whether the plan gets off the ground remains to be seen.
Asked about it a Harps press conference ahead of tomorrow’s Sligo Rovers game, manager Ollie Horgan said: “I have not been involved. I do not know the ins and outs of what they are looking out.”
But he felt that “we need to get our own house in order before we look at playing cross-border.”
Inevitably, there has been some scepticism. Previous cross-border competitions like the Setanta Cup and Tyler Cup have had limited success.
But Lucid is confident that he can pull this off, and has the support of former Republic of Ireland manager Brian Kerr and Brendan Dillon, who was previously chairman of the League of Ireland.
Fintan Drury, of football agency Platinum One, who previously hatched a plan for an All-Ireland League over ten years ago, has also had an input.
A presentation regarding the proposals was made in Dublin this week.
Fewer games, lucrative tv deals, greater prizemoney and greater financial investment in the league would certainly have an appeal.
Political and security related issues will inevitably emerge, but Lucid is upbeat.
It will be interesting to see how the plans evolve in the coming months.
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