The FAI has confirmed that the 2022 SSE Airtricity First Division will be contested by nine teams.
It follows the merger of second tier sides Bray Wanderers and Cabinteely. Their new union has applied to compete under the Bray name next year, with home games at the Carlisle Grounds.
A nine-team First Division means there will be no return of a Shamrock Rovers reserve side, or similar.
The champions will be promoted directly to the SSE Airtricity Premier Division. Teams finishing 2nd to 5th will contest a playoff series.
It means that after the regular season is completed, half of the league will still be in contention for promotion.
The eventual winners of the two-legged playoff series will play the team finishing 9th in the SSE Airtricity Premier Division.
Fixtures for the 2022 Premier Division and First Division seasons will be made public on Monday (December 20).
The Board of the Football Association of Ireland has approved a nine-team format for the 2022 SSE Airtricity First Division season with four rounds of games scheduled to begin on February 18th.The decision was taken in light of the circumstances presented by the very recent merger of Bray Wanderers and Cabinteely and their new application for a First Division licence for 2022. The nine-team format will see the SSE Airtricity First Division champions promoted automatically to the Premier Division with the sides finishing in second, third, fourth and fifth spots contesting a promotion/relegation play-off series alongside the team that finishes ninth in the Premier. The First Division teams finishing second and fifth and the teams in third and fourth place will play each other in a two-legged play-off with the winners then contesting a one-legged final. The winner of this tie will then play the team that finishes ninth in the Premier Division to secure the final top flight spot for the 2023 season. Fixtures for the nine-team SSE Airtricity First Division season will be released on Monday along with the fixture list for the 2022 SSE Airtricity Premier Division. Plans for the 2023 First Division will be evaluated during the course of next season.