League of Ireland

The League of Ireland (Irish: Sraith na hÉireann) is the national association football league of the Republic of Ireland. It should not be confused with the Irish League which is the national football league of Northern Ireland.

Founded in 1921, as a league of eight clubs, it has expanded over time into a two-tiered league of 19 clubs. It is currently split into the League of Ireland Premier Division and the League of Ireland First Division. The league was governed by its members, the clubs, from its foundation to 2006, when it entered into a five-year merger with the Football Association of Ireland. In 2010, its members voted to renew the merger once the current agreement expires. The league has suffered severe financial problems in recent years due to mismanagement and overspending by its clubs. In 2007, it became the first major league in Europe to introduce a salary cap.

The league includes one club from Northern Ireland, Derry City. Derry City formerly played in the Irish Football League, but voluntarily left the Northern Irish league following the 1972–73 season as a result of safety and security concerns. Derry City joined the League of Ireland at the second level in 1985, after a special dispensation from the Irish Football Association (IFA) and UEFA. They won promotion in 1987, and remained in the top division of the League of Ireland until 2009, when they were expelled for operating an illegal system of contracts. They were subsequently liquidated, with a successor club placed in the First Division in 2010.

The League of Ireland is currently ranked 31st of the 53 national leagues under UEFA jurisdiction. The league's most successful club is Shamrock Rovers, with 17 League of Ireland titles won. They are one of three clubs in Ireland, with Bohemians and Shelbourne, to sport a golden star above their badge in recognition of winning ten titles. Bohemians are the only club with a non-broken membership of the league since its inception. St. Patrick's Athletic and Bohemians are the only clubs that have never been relegated from the League of Ireland Premier Division. The League of Ireland is classed as a summer league as its seasons begin in March and finish in November. The league is currently sponsored by Airtricity and therefore officially known as the Airtricity League.

Read more about League Of Ireland:  History, Champions, Format, European Qualification, Television Rights, Sponsorship

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