'There's lots of questions that need to be asked for the overall benefit of the game and not for the benefit of an elite few' - states Institute's Sean Connor

Institute manager Sean Connor.
Institute manager Sean Connor.

Institute manager Sean Connor admits an All Island League would make football more competitive in the country, but he also reminded people that more discussions need to take place.

The ex-Sligo Rovers manager also stated that every club in both top flight divisions need to be in whatever talks take place in the future.

Cliftonville manager Paddy McLaughlin.

Cliftonville manager Paddy McLaughlin.

“I’d be in favour in some sort of All Ireland League," he insisted.

"I think the stronger competition you have the better quality of footballers you develop, the better quality of football you play, how the mechanics of it I'm not too sure.

"How it's decided in terms of maybe one league or two leagues I wouldn't like to see a club like ourselves cut off and get almost relegated from senior football to a lesser event just because of the desires of bigger clubs.

"However in principal anything that improves the standards in the overall competition there's a lot of merit in it.

Stephen O'Donnell, Coleraine skipper.

Stephen O'Donnell, Coleraine skipper.

"Right now for a club like ourselves, for our fans and players it's fantastic to be playing Cliftonville, Linfield, Glentoran and Crusaders, to have that level of competition is brilliant and we can't just jump into an All Ireland League, I think it would need more discussion.

"Who is having the discussion at the moment, it seems to be a selected group of individuals, are they involving all the clubs, I don't see that. Where is it being driven from?, is it a financial model?, so there's lots of questions that need to be asked for the overall benefit of the game and not for the benefit of an elite few."

Another man who thinks an All Ireland league would benefit the game throughout the country is ex-'Stute boss Paddy McLaughlin.

The Cliftonville supremo feel a switch to summer football would also help the game, especially sides who have secured European football.

"I would be 100 per cent in favour of it," conceded McLaughlin.

"For the supporters especially and the possible switch to summer football I feel would also benefit Irish League clubs

"I have played in both North and South and playing in the summer when it's warmer is a lot more encouraging for the fans to come out.

"Even for players training in the summer nights in the good weather is more enjoyable at times rather than training in the winter, when sessions have to be cancelled because of frozen pitches and stuff like that.

"I would be a fan of an All Island League if it ever happened, because I feel it might also bring out bigger crowds. The finances and sponsorship would make things a lot more interesting and because of that there's a lot of plusses for me to be honest.

"The interest would be there and my opinion putting everyone into the one league, would definitely help football right across the country.

"I feel if the two leagues came together for one competitive league then I think it would be a lot more competitive and you are probably going to be tapping into players going full-time too in the long term. I feel players would also want that as well, as they would become better players by having more training sessions."

Another Derry man interested about the prospect of an All Island League is Coleraine skipper Stephen O'Donnell.

The centre-back was also cautious about the prospect of the Irish League losing another European spot, but he believes for the long term future of the game, a North and South link-up could be massive.

"I think for the standard of football in Ireland it will only be a beneficial thing, but there's probably a lot that goes with it in the sense of would both divisions lose Europa League places and Champions League place and stuff like that," he explained.

"However if that be agreed or balanced out through say TV money or sponsorship, then the more professionalism and more money put into the game on an All Ireland basis, I think would be a positive thing.

"I think in terms of the Irish League the interest in recent years has grown and credit to everyone involved in terms of stepping up with the promotional side of it, the interest on both the TV and social media side of the local game is great to see and because of that, everyone from both leagues playing in the same division would be great, as it would generate interest.

"Having big teams from Dublin coming up to the North on a regular basis playing and some of the Belfast sides and obviously ourselves playing teams from Dublin, I feel there would be big interest, but as I said how it work in the sense for me personally with the Irish League being part-time and not having a full-time set-up throughout the league, how would that suit teams at the top of the country like ourselves, in terms of maybe facing a Cork City on Friday night.

"However in saying all that going forward if the leagues can go full-time professional it would be great."