Irish football clubs ‘to take on TV rights’ if All-Island league proposal fails

DUNDALK, IRELAND - JULY 22: Daryl Horgan of Dundalk (R) applauds the supporters during the Champions League 2nd round qualifying game at Oriel Park on July 22, 2015 in Dundalk, Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

League of Ireland football clubs will reportedly take over ownership of their broadcast rights from the 2021-22 season if current plans for an All-Island league fail.

Rights to the LOI, which comprises the top-tier Premier Division and second-tier First Division, are currently owned by the Football Association of Ireland.

The transfer of the LOI rights to the clubs would take place if plans for an All-Island league, comprising clubs from Ireland and Northern Ireland, are not agreed by a November 3 deadline set by an LOI and FAI working group, according to local news outlet the Irish Mirror. 

The working group, which comprises eight LOI clubs, briefed officials from 19 of the league’s 20 clubs on Tuesday. The LOI and the FAI set up the group in July to consider options for the future direction of football in Ireland.

The All-Island league is the brainchild of Irish entrepreneur Kieran Lucid, who is scheduled to make a presentation to the clubs on the plan on October 24.

But the clubs’ appetite for Lucid’s plan is waning, according to another report from the Irish Examiner.

The outlet reports that the LOI is instead likely to be restructured to create a three-tier format from the 2021-22 season. Under the proposals, the top-six clubs would breakaway after the first set of matches, with a second group formed from the bottom four Premier Division clubs and the fop four from the First Division. The remaining six clubs would comprise the third tier.

According to the Irish Examiner, the LOI only just about covers its €1.5m ($1.6m) running costs in the current structure.