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Thursday 25 May 2017

Mahon: 10 teams in Premier not answer

Pete Mahon. Pic: Sportsfile
Pete Mahon. Pic: Sportsfile

Irish football is making a big mistake in rushing towards a ten-team league which will see three clubs cut from the top flght at the end of this season.

That's the stark view of Pete Mahon, manager of a Drogheda United side who are back in the Premier Division but facing a very tough battle to stay in the division.

With fresh doubts over the ability of Wexford Youths to survive, the structure of the league is again in question, with more talks between representatives of the Premier Club Alliance and the FAI in the last 24 hours.

A move from the leading clubs led to a controversial FAI decision to cut back the current 12-team Premier Division to a ten-team league for 2018, so three teams will be relegated at the end of this season with only one slot for promotion.

Veteran Mahon admits that his own club, along with Finn Harps and Galway United, will be involved in a dogfight but Bohemians, and possibly even St Patrick's Athletic, could find the season a struggle as well.

"Change is badly needed but I'm not in favour of this change. To me, it's just papering over the cracks," says Mahon. "Being realistic, we are one of the teams who will have to fight this season and a 10-team league will make it very difficult for us. With a bit of luck, we could finish midtable, but it will be hard with three teams getting relegated.

"They tried all this before but it didn't work out and we keep doing the same things.

"We need the whole structure to be revamped, I would love to see a 16-team league with two regional leagues below that where the one or both of the winners of the regional divisions can get promoted," says Mahon.

With Premier Division football to offer the town again and a squad boosted by the signing of native sons Killian and Gavin Brennan, Mahon (69) says he senses optimism. "There's a feelgood factor for Irish football now after the Euros," he says.

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