“Football needs something new and it needs something fast”
Yesterday, January 29th 2020 Kieran Lucid delivered with the help of Pieter Nieuwenhuis (CEO of Hypercube). Kieran addressed the audience of Media Broadcasters and Journalists by begging off to tell his side of the story and why he wanted to push for an all island league and his own personal background before quickly moving on to the hard facts of the troubles facing the league as it stands. Lucid read out the prize money of both the League of Ireland (€120,000) and Northern Ireland Football League (Roughly €35,000). Compare these figures to the SPFL in which you earn £45,000 for finishing bottom of the league. Lucid and Hypercube made it clear that both prize money and viewership were not up to the standards of multiple nations of similar size to Ireland, most notably, Denmark, Cyprus and Scotland.
Lucid indicated that on the island we have serious competition between sports but football is still the most watched sport in the nation and state show that on average 157,000 people on the island of Ireland travel to English Premier League games per annum. The AIL are well aware that it will not be able to compete with the already developed league but the aim is to bridge the gap between them. To do this the AIL must fix the problems in Interest, Capital, Standards and Success of the leagues. The main issue being public interest which is according to the team behind the AIL coming from European Success within Irish sides I.e Linfield, Rovers & Most recently Dundalk. Hypercube suggested that to kickstart the AIL they will need Funding from the Government, Paid TV Deal(s), UEFA funding and Data exploration.
A big problem in Ireland was then addressed as they spoke about stopping young players from going abroad so early in their careers and thus developing themselves in the league alongside developing the league with them. The Dutch business suggested that keeping them younger is vital but also getting them home sooner is another thing that can be worked on (for example Damien Duff to Rovers and Damien Delaney to Cork).
Lucid assured the media that all but two clubs were on board with his idea but some clubs did need a little more persuading and had more questions needing to be answered and as for the NIFL it is moving swiftly while the FA seem to be all for the idea. “It’s no longer a question of if, it’s what the FA and NIFL will say yes to” says Kieran Lucid.
As for Hypercube the crowd came across very well and delivered their background research very well. The Dutch side detailed work in The Netherlands in which they got involved with the structure of the league and brought viewership from 4.8 Million to 6 Million by implementing a new league format. The main focus for them is improving attendances in the league and seeing teams qualify for Europe via the newly formed conference league which shares the same value in prize money as the current Europe League.
The broadcasters then voiced their opinion in which it was clear that the league needed to be at a good time for them to broadcast as the intention is there to publicise the matches but it’s hard to compete with other leagues and sports, the hope is to, in the future broadcast 1 game a week. A very interesting suggestion was voiced in an MLS system which may bring the most viewers to the league due to constant competition and bigger and more competitive games more often. Lucid and Hypercube admitted they had been looking at this option as oppose to a 14 team league.
All in all the meeting went very well and both the media and the AIL team came across very well and it’s clear to see the intentions of the league are at heart and this is a genuine interest of Lucid whom I personally was very impressed with.