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The Republic of Ireland football league system is formed of the League of Ireland and the 2011–12 FAI U19 League. The League of Ireland was established in 1921. The League of Ireland consisted of one division up to 1985, when it split into the Premier Division and First Division. In 2008, the A Championship was introduced below the league as a preparatory division for entry into it. The league season runs from March to November. Another change undergone by the league has been the introduction of professionalism into some clubs, and the majority of Premier Division clubs. Clubs were previously semi-professional. These changes were mainly made in an effort to better performances in European competition by League of Ireland clubs. The improvements provided by professionalism, particularly in fitness, produced significantly better results in European competition, but proved to be somewhat unsustainable for some clubs, with the vast majority of the clubs involved suffering severe financial collapses but these clubs have been outpassed by more financially stable clubs and the league has kept up its impressive performances. In 2006 the FAI completed a merge with the League of Ireland. This merge involved changes to league format which were to be gradually introduced over the next three years. The changes included the introduction of the A Championship which would provide non-league and amateur clubs a chance to win promotion to the First Division which, up to that stage, had no clubs actually relegated. Clubs who finished in last place had to re-apply for league membership, however. The league has received more media coverage in recent years. At the moment, two channels (RTÉ and TG4) show live matches and/or highlights of Premier Division games.

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