League of Ireland Premier Division
|Other club(s) from||Northern Ireland|
|Number of teams||12|
|Levels on pyramid||1|
|Relegation to||League of Ireland First Division|
|Domestic cup(s)||FAI Cup|
|League cup(s)||League of Ireland Cup|
|International cup(s)||UEFA Champions League
UEFA Europa League
|Current champions||St Patrick's Athletic
|Most championships||Shelbourne (6)|
|TV partners||RTÉ 2
|2014 League of Ireland|
The League of Ireland Premier Division (Irish: Príomhroinn Sraith na hÉireann) is the top tier of the Republic of Ireland's national football league, the League of Ireland. Contested by 12 clubs, it operates a system of promotion and relegation with the First Division. Seasons run from March to October, with teams playing 33 matches. Most games are played on Fridays, with a few games held on Saturdays and Sundays. It was known as the Eircom Premier League from 2000 to 2008. It is currently sponsored by SSE Airtricity and therefore officially known as the SSE Airtricity Premier League.
The division was formed as the League of Ireland Premier Division in 1985 as a result of the decision to split the League of Ireland into two divisions, which also created the League of Ireland First Division. The league is ranked 36th in the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) coefficients of leagues based on performances in European competitions over the last five years, ahead of Lithuania's A Lyga and behind Moldova's National Division. In 2009, the FAI rejected proposals from clubs to remove the first division and restore the League of Ireland to its original structure.
Since 1921, a total of 19 clubs have been crowned champions of the Irish football league system. The current champions are St Patrick's Athletic, who won the title in the 2013 League of Ireland season.
There are 12 clubs in the Premier Division. During the course of a season (from March to October) each club plays the others three times, once or twice at their home stadium and once or twice at that of their opponents, for a total of 33 games. Teams receive three points for a win and one point for a draw. No points are awarded for a loss. Teams are ranked by total points, then goal difference and then goals scored. At the end of each season, the club with the most points is crowned champion. If points are equal, the goal difference and then goals scored determine the winner. If still equal, teams are deemed to occupy the same position. If there is a tie for the championship, for relegation, or for qualification to other competitions, a play-off match at a neutral venue decides rank. The team that finishes last gets relegated to the First Division automatically and the second lowest placed teams participate in a 2-legged play-off against the second placed team of the First Division with the loser being relegated to the First Division and the winner being promoted to the Premier Division.
The current League of Ireland trophy was unveiled on October 31, 2007 by the Football Association of Ireland. It stands at 91 cm (36 inches) tall with a circumference of 83 cm (33 inches). It is a Sterling Silver trophy consisting of silver and a mass of other metals including copper. The design of the trophy consists of a silver football at the top, which is encompassed by the cup itself. Drogheda United were the first team to receive the newly created trophy on November 2, 2007.
The Premier Division has been sponsored the early 1990s. The sponsor has been able to determine the league's sponsorship name. There have been three sponsors since the league's formation.
- 1990's: Bord Gáis (Bord Gáis League Premier Division)
- 2000-2008: Eircom (Eircom League Premier Division)
- 2010–present: SSE Airtricity (Airtricity League Premier Division)
The league had no title sponsor in 2009, but had a number of secondary sponsors including Newstalk and Electronic Arts. League of Ireland's three year sponsorship deal with Airtricity will end in 2012. As well as sponsorship for the league itself, the Premier Division has a number of official partners and suppliers. The official ball supplier for the league is Umbro. The official drink for the league is Lucozade. The official radio and newspaper partners are Newstalk and Irish Daily Star.
In (2012) RTÉ 2 increased its coverage of the league and FAI cup from 19 games (2011) to 24 games (2012) as well a having its weekly show every Monday (MNS) to show the highlights of the weeks games.RTÉ 2 will also provide HD coverage of the final as well as select league games.
Also Setanta Sports show some league games during the Summer and towards the league climax and also have the Setanta Sports Cup Which starts in February and ends in May (final).These games are available in HD on UPC.
The following 12 clubs are competing in the Premier Division during the 2014 season.
|First season in
|Number of seasons
in the Premier Division
|First season of
current spell in
|Last top division title|
|Athlone Towna||1st in the First Division||1922-23||8||2014||2||1982–83|
|St Patrick's Athletica,b||1st||1951-52||29||1951-52||8||2013|
- Shelbourne was relegated to the First Division for the 2014 Season as a result of finishing in last place. One team was promoted: Athlone Town. Derry City is the only club in the League of Ireland Premier Division not based in the Republic of Ireland, being based instead in Northern Ireland.
a: Founding member of the Premier Division
b: Never been relegated from Premier Division
c: One of the original 8 League of Ireland teams
For the 2014 season, Premier Division football is played in 12 stadia. Since the formation of the Premier Division, football grounds in Ireland have seen some improvements to capacity and facilities, with some clubs moving to new-build stadia such as Shamrock Rovers, who in 2009 moved into Tallaght Stadium. The stadia for the 2014 season show disparity in capacity: Thomond Park, the home of Limerick has a capacity of 26,500, with Hunky Dorys Park, the home of Drogheda United, having a capacity of 2,000. The combined total capacity of the stadia for the Premier Division in the 2014 season is 89,049 with an average capacity of 7,421.
Stadium attendances have been low over the past few years, but some clubs such as Shamrock Rovers have experienced a rise in attendances due to their performance in European competitions. For the 2013 season, average attendances across the league clubs were 1,774 for Premier Division matches. This represents an increase from the average attendance recorded in the last few years.
|Athlone Town||Athlone||Athlone Town Stadium||5,000|
|Bray Wanderers||Bray||Carlisle Grounds||7,000|
|Cork City||Cork||Turners Cross||7,485|
|Drogheda United||Drogheda||Hunky Dorys Park||2,000|
|Shamrock Rovers||Dublin||Tallaght Stadium||8,000|
|Sligo Rovers||Sligo||The Showgrounds||5,500|
|St. Patrick's Athletic||Dublin||Richmond Park||5,340|
The league’s current longest reigning manager is Martin Russell, who has remained in his position at UCD, since January 2009. The most recent managerial appointment was Mick Cooke to Athlone Town, who previously served as manager of Drogheda United. 11 Irish managers have won the Premier Division, with the most recent being Liam Buckley of Saint Patrick's Athletic in 2013. 5 managers from outside the Republic of Ireland have won the Premier Division including 3 Northern Irish managers, Jim McLaughlin (Shamrock Rovers, Derry City and Shelbourne, 3 wins), Felix Healy (Derry City, 1 win), Michael O'Neill (Shamrock Rovers, 2 wins) and 2 English managers, Pat Dolan (Saint Patrick’s Athletic, 1 win) and Ian Baraclough (Sligo Rovers, 1 win). No manager from outside the British Isles has won the Premier Division. Currently 9 of the managers are from Republic of Ireland, 1 from England, 1 from Scotland and 1 from the United States of America.
The current managers in the Premier Division are:
|Martin Russell||UCD||18 January 2009|
|Liam Buckley||St Patrick's Athletic||
2 December 2011
|Ian Baraclough||Sligo Rovers||27 February 2012|
|Trevor Croly||Shamrock Rovers||7 November 2012|
21 November 2012
|Stuart Taylor||Limerick||11 January 2013|
19 September 2013
|John Caulfield||Cork City||5 November 2013|
|Robbie Horgan||Drogheda United||14 November 2013|
|Roddy Collins||Derry City||19 November 2013|
|Mick Cooke||Athlone Town||18 December 2013|
|Alan Mathews||Bray Wanderers||10 January 2014|