The FAI have released details of the coming League of Ireland Premier and First Division structures, with the start date confirmed the middle of February.
With a more packed 36-game Premier Division season (despite two fewer teams), the league will now start on Friday, February 16th, with the curtain-raising President’s Cup between Cork City and Dundalk taking place at Oriel Park on Sunday, February 11th.
The First Division, now two teams heavier, will begin on Friday, February 23rd and each side will play 27 games, facing every other team three times over the course of the campaign.
This year also sees the return of the playoff structure to decide relegation and promotion. The bottom side from the Premier Division will automatically be replaced by the champions of the second tier and, as reported earlier this week, there will be a convoluted structure to determine the other promoted club (if indeed there is one).
Under the new format, the third and fourth-placed teams in the First Division will face each other, with the winner playing against the league runners-up. The winner of that tie will then face the second-from-bottom Premier Division, with the victor taking their lace in the top tier for the 2019 season.
The FAI have also confirmed that the FAI Cup final will take place on Sunday, November 4th, with the EA Sports Cup final scheduled for Saturday, September 15th.
The full list of fixtures will be released on Tuesday, 19th December at noon.
We discussed the new league format on this week’s episode of the Mixer Irish Football Podcast, and caught up with David Cawley following his return to Sligo Rovers.