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The format for both divisions in the 2018 SSE Airtricity League were confirmed on Thursday with the Premier kicking off on February 16 and the First Division, with play-off games now reintroduced, kicking off a week later on February 23.
The Premier Division will consist of 36 games, as each side plays each other four times while the First Division season will season each side play 27 games, meaning three rounds of fixtures.
The team that finishes bottom of the Premier Division will be relegated with the First Division champions earning automatic promotion.
Furthermore, the First Division, which has no midweek fixtures scheduled, will consist of play-offs at the end of the season. The sides who finish 3rd and 4th in the league will face each other in a two-legged play-off with the winner of that tie then facing the side who finished second in the First Division in another two-legged play-off.
The winner of that tie will then face the side who finished ninth in the Premier Division in the final promotion/relegation play-off, again over two legs.
Fixtures will be released at 12 noon on Tuesday, December 19, and the mid-season break will take place from Saturday, June 16 to Thursday, June 28.
The new format is one that has pleased Cobh Ramblers manager Stephen Henderson, who believes it will make the 2018 First Division the most competitive it has been for many years.
“This new format will ensure the most competitive First Division for many years. All ten teams will feel they have a chance of a play-off spot right up until the end which means some cracking games for us to look forward to.”
Looking at cup competition, the President’s Cup between Dundalk and Cork City will take place on Sunday, February 11 in Oriel Park.
The EA Sports Cup final is set for Saturday, September 15 while the Irish Daily Mail FAI Cup Final is to take place on Sunday, November 4 in the Aviva Stadium.
With UEFA reconfiguring their competitions, the Champions League and Europa League will both begin a week later, at the same time, on the week beginning Monday, July 9.