Promotion and relegation to apply as decision made on League of Ireland resumption

By Brendan O'Brien

One club will be automatically relegated from the Premier Division with the First Division champions replacing them for the 2021 campaign. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
One club will be automatically relegated from the Premier Division with the First Division champions replacing them for the 2021 campaign. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

The impasse over the SSE Airtricity League and what format it will take on its resumption has ended with a ruling that it will amount to an 18-game season and with the usual relegation and promotion places to apply.

The league will kick off again, as expected, on July 31 with the National League Executive Committee deciding that results of those games played to date will be counted. In all, just two rounds of fixtures will be played rather than the usual four.

The decision has now been sent on to the FAI board for ratification.

One club will be automatically relegated from the Premier Division with the First Division champions replacing them for the 2021 campaign. Sligo Rovers are bottom of the former with no points from four games. Cabinteely sit top of the second tier with three wins from three.

A play-off between the ninth-placed Premier Division club, currently Cork City who have three points, and the winner of a First Division play-off series, involving the teams that finish second, third, fourth, and fifth, will decide the other spot in the top tier.

The decision was made by the National League Executive Committee following a meeting at the FAI's HQ in Abbotstown on Tuesday morning and on the back of lengthy but inconclusive talks involving the clubs that spanned the last two weeks.

Some had called for just one promotion/relegation spot given the truncated nature of the season due to the pandemic. There were, in total, four different suggestions on the table after the hours and days of deliberations.

Fixtures are to be announced in due course. There was no mention in the statement of the FAI Cup but it is believed that the competition will also be played this season.

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