Potential drastic changes planned to League of Ireland structure

The League of Ireland could switch to an eight-team Premier Division from 2021 — under a proposal made by a working group.

A document was presented to all Airtricity League clubs at the Aviva Stadium over the last week which has some revolutionary proposals.

The group was set up at a July workshop facilitated by the FAI to look at all options for the future of the league.

That included plans submitted by Niall Quinn and Kieran Lucid.

Indeed, Lucid’s all-island proposal does have support among clubs and the working group did include it as an option to be considered.

But they also presented their own proposals.

The first is an eight-team top flight that would split after four rounds of games.

The top four would then fight for the Euro spots and the bottom four to avoid relegation and a play-off.

A 12-team First Division would also split after two rounds with the top six vying for promotion and a play-off spot.

The second option is the same for the top flight, though the First Division would be regionalised with the top two from north and south going into knockout play-offs.

A third is the most radical, with two ten-team divisions playing two rounds of games in the first half of the season.

But there would then be a split into three divisions — a top six ‘Championship’, an eight-team promotion-relegation section of the bottom four of the Premier and top four of the First and a six-team First Division ‘Plate’.

The discussion document says that who should run the league — the FAI, clubs themselves, an outside group or a mixture of all three — is still being investigated.

Potential revenue streams are to be identified with television rights and “data, digital and international streaming rights” highlighted for growth.





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