The IFA yesterday announced the launch of a new 5 year strategy to improve the game at a local and international level. The 36 page document sets out six new long term objectives:
- Challenge every time, qualify every other time
- Rebuild the football estate
- Break the top 40 in European leagues
- Reinvigorate the everyday game
- Build a thriving stadium business
- Serve the community better
The strategy is heavily weighted towards improvements at the upper end of the game with investments in the National Stadium and a new state of the art training facility aimed at teams preparing for European competitions.
There is also mention of a tweak of the season to allow teams to play in May and June, again, aimed at clubs preparing for European competitions, but will this be rolled out right through the new structured intermediate leagues? Is this a move towards summer football or just the introduction of a winter break?
Restructuring of Intermediate Football
In the section titled ‘Reinvigorate the everyday game’ a major restructuring of intermediate football is laid out. It states that there will be a maximum of 88 teams given intermediate status including the top 3 divisions. The new structure proposes that outside of the top 3 divisions there will be 2 regional leagues with 26 intermediate teams each.
This poses a number of questions for affected teams; Where will the boundaries of the 2 regions fall? Will the intermediate clubs in the regional league still have amateur status? What will the criteria be?
New IT system
A simple but major improvement for all clubs will be the proposed implementation of a new state of the art IT system to manage all discipline matters, registrations and fixtures.
This is a major boost for clubs currently bombarded with administrative paperwork, spreadsheets and registration forms.
All in all it appears that big change is in the air and this has to be welcomed, however the IFA can’t throw this document out there and close the door. Continued communication and consultation with the most affected clubs needs to happen to allow a smooth transition and clubs preparation before the proposed 2019/20 implementation.
View the full strategy HERE