Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern has called for a merger between Ireland’s two football associations, the Republic’s FAI and the North’s IFA.
"An all-island league would generate greater revenue for clubs and help
further develop the game. It would in particular also enable the island
to punch its full weight internationally, something that real sports
people have long yearned for." (Irish Times)
Last time I was in Ireland I was struck by the extent to which the successful all-Ireland Rugby team had overtaken the 26-county soccer team in terms of public interest. The Republic’s current doldrums are also in striking contrast with Northern Ireland’s renaissance, a fact which may well invite a cynical response to this proposal. Nevertheless, a single association with a more competitive league and a more competitive team would surely benefit the development of the game in both parts of the island.