Tuesday afternoon brought the launch of EA Sports' expanded partnership with the rebranded LOI Academy Development Programme, in exciting news for Irish football.
Irish legend Richard Dunne was present at the launch, alongside current League Of Ireland players Jessie Stapleton of Shelbourne, and Sam Curtis of St. Patrick's Athletic.
EA Sports' sponsorship will cover all LOI Academy leagues, and marks a push to encourage the development of the next generation of Irish footballers, rather than focusing on competition at youth level.
LOI Academy launch: EA Sports partnership extended for three years
EA Sports have extended their sponsorship of the rebooted LOI Academy Development Programme for a further three years, it was announced on Tuesday.
The launch of the expanded partnership came at the FAI Headquarters in Abbotstown, Dublin, and was aided by former Irish international Richard Dunne.
The statement accompanying the programme's launch said that the rebrand was "a fundamental part of the cultural shift away from a competition led development environment, to a long term individual player development environment that focuses on the development of the individual player as opposed to the success of the team."
The new partnership will see expansions of academy leagues at U17 and U19 level, as well as changes to the MU14 and MU15 structures to bring in minimum game time for players and aid with development.
The upcoming season will also see EA Sports and the LOI begin the League of Ireland Certification process, which will aim to improve standards around youth development, and modernise player development.
Speaking at the launch, LOI Academy Development manager Will Clarke said:
We are delighted to announce this extended partnership with EA SPORTS who have been brilliant supporters of League of Ireland Academy Development Programme in recent years.
We are entering into a very exciting era in Irish football and the support of EA SPORTS for the next three seasons will ensure that we can accelerate the progress that has already been made in recent seasons.
EA SPORTS have been fantastic partners and we are delighted that EA SPORTS will continue with us on our journey as we look to ensure that every young boy and girl in Ireland is given the opportunity to maximise their potential.
Meanwhile, EA Sports FIFA senior marketing director James Salmon said:
We’re delighted to continue our sponsorship with the FAI of the newly renamed, League of Ireland Academy Development Programme after seeing great success over the last two years.
We’re also delighted to have extended our partnership to become an associate sponsor of the League of Ireland. Supporting all levels of the game is a priority for EA SPORTS in Ireland and beyond.
This is an exciting time for all aspiring players, and we look forward to continuing to support clubs, players and fans across the country. Wishing everyone the very best of luck this season!