The Irish Independent claims that top clubs from Northern Ireland and the Republic are in “advanced discussions” about the formation of an all Ireland football league. Such a suggestion has arisen periodically, but the cooperation fostered by the Setanta Cup seems to have crystallised into more serious plans.
Whether Eircom clubs consider such a league as a genuine option or whether there is an element of tactical positioning due to disputes with the FAI is debatable. Personally I view the prospect with ambivalence. Whilst supporters would welcome the prospect of a larger stage on which their clubs could develop and display increased ambition, there remains concern about the financial ramifications.
Increased transport and travel costs both for clubs and supporters demand instant success from the league. Unless crowds increase despite a presumable increase in prices and unless television offers adequate incentives it seems likely clubs would overstretch themselves and this could lead to severe financial difficulties.
The IFA will at some point be asked to come on board with this and I would have severe reservations about cooperating with the FAI unless they are willing to back down in the player eligibility argument.