Bohemians boss Keith Long 'excited' by All Ireland League plans

Bohemians manager, Keith Long is the latest League of Ireland coach to get behind Kieran Lucid's All Island League proposals.
Bohemians manager, Keith Long is the latest League of Ireland coach to get behind Kieran Lucid's All Island League proposals.

BOHEMIANS manager, Keith Long says the idea of an All Island League excites him and claims it could transform Irish football for the better.

Representatives from both League of Ireland and Irish League clubs are set to meet with Kerry businessman, Kieran Lucid next week to further discuss the possibility of the All Island League concept.

And, ahead of that meeting, Long has become the latest current Airtricity Premier Division coach to voice his support for the ambitious venture.

He follows in the footsteps of Liam Buckley (Sligo), Declan Devine (Derry City), Alan Reynolds (Waterford), Ruaidhri Higgins (Dundalk) and Ollie Horgan (Finn Harps), who have all gone on the record to give the proposals their backing.

"I definitely think there is merit in it," said the Gyspies boss. "I think an All Ireland League has potential. The detail in Lucid's plan needs to be examined and interrogated further to give it every opportunity and they shouldn't rush into any new format.

"My personal opinion is, and I thought this for many years as a player and now a coach, an All Ireland league would be good for football on the island of Ireland.

"You have some good big teams up north and some good big teams down south. Football is based upon rivalries and I think it would create new rivalries amongst the clubs and it would be good for the game.

"The plan that Lucid has, I definitely think it could transform football in the country and I'd be all for it. It will be good for football in this country. The thoughts of playing Linfield, Glentoran - that would excite me as a manager. That would interest me, that would be good for football."

Following the recent meeting facilitated by the FAI in Tallaght, proposals for a three-tier split format from 2021 were presented to all 20 League of Ireland clubs and the Players Football Association of Ireland by a working group.

The proposal would mean the top six would breakaway after the first series of games but it's not something Long believes will benefit all clubs and he claims it simply isn't a viable option.

"What's rumoured to be a three tier league which has come out of the working group, I don't believe that is a viable proposition to be honest and I don't think we should be rushed into making a decision before the FAI cup final in relation to that.

"It would fracture the leagues even more and turn it into a case of those who have and those who have not. I don't think that's sustainable. There's no real viability and the detail is scant at the moment."

In terms of the All Island League plans, Long is confident Lucid has the right people behind him to make it work.

"The All Island League and the Lucid proposal is certainly one we need to explore further," he continued.

"You have this opportunity to try and influence some real change and the league can evolve as it grows and develops and gathers legs.

"But he (Lucid) has got some serious people behind him. Brendan Dillon who is a solicitor in Dublin and has been involved with UCD and the FAI for a long time. Ciarán Medlar, a tax specialist from Dublin firm BDO. He's got Brian Kerr involved and one or two philanthropists in the States who can potentially get involved.

"I think it certainly has merit and needs to be investigated further. We can't just sideline the proposals from Lucid because it could be transformational for football on the island.

"His argument is valid in my opinion and should be explored further. We shouldn't be rushing to any judgement until all aspects are explored!"