Derry City to meet All Island Group

Barry Molloy scores during Derry City's Setanta Cup win over Linfield at the Brandywell, in 2012.
Barry Molloy scores during Derry City's Setanta Cup win over Linfield at the Brandywell, in 2012.
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DERRY City director, Sean Barrett has confirmed the Brandywell club will meet the group behind plans for a proposed ‘All Island’ League in the next 10 days.

Mr Barrett, who along with chairman, Philip O’Doherty, is currently on a business trip in Europe, admitted that the club would be keen to hear the ideas for the proposed new league format.

We would be keen to explore it because the Setanta Cup from Derry City’s perspective was a big success for us.

Sean Barrett

“We haven’t, as a board, discussed it but, yes, the group who are involved have made contact with us and we’ll talk to them hopefully in the next seven to 10 days,” he explained.

“Mark Duffy, who is one of the guys part of the group has been in contact and, as I said, we plan to meet them soon.

“We would be keen to explore it because the Setanta Cup from Derry City’s perspective was a big success for us, so obviously we would be interested in having discussions and hearing their proposal.”

Former Republic of Ireland boss Brian Kerr, Kerry-born entrepreneur Kieran Lucid and Mark Duffy, are three members of the steering group hoping to change the face of Irish football.

The new structure would consist of 34 clubs; a 14-team Premiership with teams playing each other twice, a 10-team Championship North, playing each other twice and a 10-team Championship South also playing each other twice, meaning each Championship club plays each other twice with only five ‘long’ trips.

A geographical line will be drawn yearly to keep 10 in each Championship league.

“Our focus is to present a proposal for the clubs to say ‘yes or no’ to,” confirmed Lucid. “And to that end we have worked on a 123-page document to cover everything.

“We have real funding in place and have had a seven-figure deal offered to us by a broadcasting company. It was a verbal offer, but a sincere offer.

“We only began reaching out to broadcasters in the last six weeks, as we had to speak to the clubs first, obviously, but we have yet to speak to many more broadcasters.

“I have been involved with the Boyne Cup, a cross-community tournament, for three years, and after that went well I spoke to clubs and chairmen about the possible viability of a cross border competition.

“I didn’t speak to southern clubs until I spoke to clubs in the north, obviously there was a variance of opinion but I found southern clubs to be more resistant to the idea than northern clubs at the beginning.

“Understandably, clubs have concerns about finance but the message that came through was that, if identities are not threatened it would improve standards of football on the island, they would consider it.

“What we are proposing is a company to be set up upon the lines of the English Premier League, duly licensed by both associations with clubs retaining their affiliations to their current associations.

“Both the Irish Cup and the FAI Cup would be retained and run by the individual associations, and the retention of the eight European slots on the island - soon to be seven - would depend on discussions with UEFA.

“But to put matters in perspective, the team that would finish last in the proposed new league would earn money that would be comparable to money earned by qualifying for Europe.

“I also have to say UEFA are an ally in this, not an adversary.”

Barrett also confirmed in the coming weeks and months all League of Ireland clubs will have their say on the new league proposal.

“It’s certainly worth exploring at the minute, because within the league there’s chat about changes coming,” Barrett added.

“The PCA (Premier Clubs Association) are talking about doing different things, so this ties in with what we are trying to do to, which is to basically try to better the football family in the whole of Ireland.

“I’m sure we’ll meet up and probably have a chat about it as well to see what advantages or disadvantages there is for League of Ireland clubs and then take it from there.”