The Football Association of Ireland and the Irish Football Association have announced the creation of a new cross-border tournament – the Unite the Union Champions Cup.
The competition will be sponsored by the trade union Unite, and will see the SSE Airtricity League Champions play the winners of the Danske Bank Premiership in a two-legged final
Its first edition will take place in November 2019 and will see Linfield face this season’s League of Ireland winners.
The sponsors have signed up for three years with €50,000 set to go to the winners, €25,000 for the runners-up and a further €25,000 ring-fenced for community-based projects in the competing team’s local areas.
The official launch will take place on May 13th and Fran Gavin, and FAI Competitions Director, said:
“We’re delighted to formally announce the Unite the Union Champions Cup and we’re extremely excited for the competition to begin.
“I’d like to thank the IFA, in particular Patrick Nelson, who have been fantastic to work with on the project and it’s great to see a cross-border tournament return. The clubs and players in the SSE Airtricity League are incredibly excited to see a competition like this back on the domestic calendar.
“I’d also like to thank Unite, in particular Brendan Ogle and his colleagues, for their sponsorship of the tournament and the community work they’re committed to as part of the competition, both north and south of the border. It’s a unique sponsorship and we’re looking forward to help promote Unite’s equality agenda.”
Brendan Ogle, Senior Officer in the Republic of Ireland for Unite, said:
“Our union has a strong anti-sectarian and anti-racist ethos, and we support gender and sexual equality campaigns. We salute the work done by civil society organisations to tackle racism in sport, and we hope to work with such groups to promote equality and diversity through the Champions Cup.
“Local communities and local clubs need support now more than ever, and Unite wants to provide some of that support while sending a clear message: we can celebrate our own identities while respecting others.”
There had been some doubt over the competition when it was first announced by Gavin at the launch of this year’s League of Ireland season back in February, only for the IFA to subsequently release a statement outlining that they hadn’t been expecting a formal announcement.