November 22, 2019
Jonathan O’Brien TD welcomes Minister Ross’ supportive comments on all-island soccer league proposals

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Sport, Jonathan O’Brien TD has welcomed comments from Minister Shane Ross in which he says he sees serious merit in an all-island soccer league and his encouragement of both the FAI and the IFA to facilitate cross-border cooperation and competition.

Teachta O’Brien was reacting to a PQ response from Minister Ross on the creation of an all-island soccer league.

He said;

“Proposals for an all-island soccer league where brought forward earlier this year by a group led by Kieran Lucid.

“They are serious, well researched proposals which promised increased prize money for clubs along with increased television revenues.

“The proposals merit serious consideration by clubs across the island and, while the IFA has poured some cold water on the proposals, the group is determined to continue promoting the idea and to establish a new league as soon as possible.

“A new all-island league also has the potential to seriously improve the standard of Irish soccer at all levels while beginning the process of retaining on the island much of the millions of euros that are spent in Britain every year by Irish soccer fans.

“In that context I welcome comments from Minister Shane Ross in which he accepts the serious merit in these proposals and his encouragement of both football associations to facilitate cross-border opportunities and competition.”

ENDS

For Oral Answer on : 21/11/2019Question Number(s)25 Question Reference(s): 48177/19Department: Transport, Tourism and SportAsked by: Jonathan O’Brien T.D.______________________________________________

QUESTION

To ask the Minister for Transport; Tourism and Sport his views on the creation of an all-island soccer league; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

REPLY

The organisation and delivery of sport in Ireland is mainly a matter for National Governing Bodies of Sport.  The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) and the Irish Football Association (IFA) are the respective Governing Bodies for soccer on the island.  They are independent and autonomous bodies and any proposals regarding an all-island soccer league would be a matter for those two bodies.
The organisation of sport on an all-island basis has worked very successfully for a number of sports, most notably in the cases of rugby and hockey.  I am very supportive of cross-border sporting initiatives and collaborations between sporting organisations.  Such approaches have excellent potential to enhance relationships on both parts of the island of Ireland.  In that regard, the Unite the Union Cup was a very welcome addition to the sporting calendar on the island of Ireland this year. 
I am aware that proposals for an all-island league were presented in recent months and that, thus far, it has not been possible to progress such proposals.  It is important to respect the autonomy and positions of the National Governing Bodies in this matter however personally, I believe there is serious merit in such proposals.  I would encourage the bodies to continue to facilitate opportunities for cross-border cooperation and competition.

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