2017 SSE Airtricity League season launched

Representatives from every club were present at the Aviva Stadium on Tuesday 14 February as the 2017 SSE Airtricity League season was officially launched.

Last season proved to be truly memorable as Dundalk retained the Premier Division title, lost out narrowly to Cork City in the Irish Daily Mail FAI Senior Cup, and embarked on a historic run to the group stages of the UEFA Europa League.

St Patrick's Athletic held off Limerick to hold onto the EA SPORTS Cup, but Limerick were able to celebrate promotion as First Division champions, while Drogheda United joined them in the top flight following their terrific campaign.

It was another notable year for underage development with the Under 19 and Under 17 Leagues both producing more talented players and thrilling games. And then there was Cork City's amazing displays in the UEFA Youth League.

The 2017 season promises to be just as entertaining and everyone is looking forward to the action kicking off on Friday 24 February.

Ronan Brady, Head of Marketing and Digital at SSE Airtricity, said: "The fans call it ‘the best league in the world’ and given the talent, passion and excitement we’ve witnessed in our eight years as sponsors, we completely agree!

"As dedicated League sponsors, we wanted to create a concept for this season that was completely different to anything we’ve done before. And that’s what led to our theme of ‘THE NEXT GENERATION’. Our League has created so many giants of Irish football, and we want fans to come and see the next generation of legends in action – right on their doorsteps!

“We can’t wait for the big kick-off next week, and I want to wish all of the clubs, players and fans the very best of luck for what promises to be another fantastic season of domestic football.”

Fran Gavin, FAI Director of Competitions, believes the future is hugely encouraging for the SSE Airtricity League and made a number of exciting announcements in his annual address, including:

  • Six Premier Division games to be shown live on RTE2 and eir Sport in the opening weeks
  • Irish Daily Mail FAI Senior Cup Semi-Finals and Final to be broadcast live on RTE2
  • EA SPORTS Cup Final to be broadcast live on eir Sport on Saturday 16 September
  • Soccer Republic to continue showing weekly highlights and new features
  • Two clubs to enter into the IRN-BRU Scottish Challenge Cup
  • Appointment of a Marketing Executive to work solely on the SSE Airtricity League
  • Marketing Group set up with two club representatives to focus on campaigns
  • New SSE Airtricity League website, with live match centre, to be operational next week

Taking into account some of the recommendations made in the Consultation Process Report and Brand Review Report, a lot of work has been done in the off-season to focus on improving promotion of the SSE Airtricity League and this remains an ongoing process.

The appointment of a Marketing Executive for the League has been a huge step forward and that person will work closely with a new Marketing Group, which includes representatives from the clubs, sponsors and the FAI, to devise ways of enhancing the overall promotion of the League.

A new official League website will be live in the run-up to the opening round of games. Created in association with the German FA, the website will transform the live match experience for League supporters as well as bringing the latest news and videos to a mobile-optimised platform.

Television coverage remains paramount to the promotion of the League, so the commitment of both RTE and eir Sport to broadcast live games is most welcome. RTE will also continue to show Soccer Republic and have some exciting plans for new features.

Following discussions with the Scottish FA, both Bray Wanderers and Sligo Rovers will be entered into the IRN-BRU Scottish Challenge Cup for next season.