Tuesday, May 09, 2006


Nooooooooooo, not another p**c* droning on about an all Ireland League. Yes, Kent Brockman here is about to add his two cents worth to the debate. Firstly, I don't want one! "But the Setanta Cup is great you said", blah etc.

Correct; is not the novelty of North v South competitive ties the drawing factor of said competition? Doesn't it make us all Oliver Twistian? And as soon as the novelty wears off we lose interest and it's just another league, which will not receive the kind of exposure that the Setanta Cup does. It's like an Irish Champions League, and the rest of the world may not get it, but they don't get Gaah either.

How would we organise it? Yeah, you can start with the top 6 from both associations but you can't keep it like that, and still call it an accurate reflection of the state of football on the island. So, don't.

Well I think even the most blinkered of IPL supporters will privately acknowledge that outside of the current Linfield squad, the northern contingent haven't exactly covered themselves in glory in the SC. Fair enough, it's not a level playing field, all the more reason for not putting them into a combined league.

Then there's the European spots, we currently have eight in total, open to correction on that one, we'd lose half of them. Who'd run the league? What if FIFA dictated that because we had a combined league we had to combine the associations as well? Can't see the boys agreeing to that.

The arguments as posted above are by no means an exhaustive list, such a list is aptly named.

So what can be done to improve football on our little land mass and thus make it more attractive to plebeians and patricians alike? Was that another question?
Here's an answer.... you will need the following ingredient:

'A pinch of forward thinking' [ outside the box is preferable ].

This recipe has been lifted directly from the FAI Cookbook, a remarkably diverse collection of ideas, some of which are over complicated, some are just bizarre concoctions; they seem to be particularly good in the soup department.

But I'm like a pregnant woman with a taste for the weird and wonderful and I can't resist the Summer Soccer Sundae. The Merrion Square chefs dithered over this for too long. They had long since allowed teams to play when it suited them, usually F'ing Freezing Friday's, but this is what we'd been waiting for, though quite a few of us didn't know this at the time.

According to the horse's mouth at the FAI average attendances have improved. That can't be a bad thing. It must be acknowledged that the economic boom down south has meant that there's more lucre sloshing around and inevitably some of this has drifted into the clubs, allowing professionalism to infiltrate the game. Nice one. An eircom League club can now decide which day / time presents the best potential crowd for their fixtures and fix their games accordingly. Commonsense. Combine this with the remote possibility of mercury heading north and you could be on to something.

Then there's the European factor. eircom League clubs are at full throttle when the European games come around, [Glentoran v Shelbourne 2005] increasing their likehood of advancement in these competitions. It may sound utopian, but they are all forward passes, helping to inch the domestic game onward and upward.

So, IPL fans get your clubs moving on this stuff, starting with Sunday football. Push your game on. There's no difference between the quality of player being produced in either domain, but vast differences in the conditions they arte presented with. There's not much inspiration to be had playing on wet, flatulent nights, in front of shivering groups of diehards.

Improve the attendances at the games, the interest of sponsors will follow, conditions will improve for fan and footballer then, maybe, TV may offer some decent exposure for the league. The half baked efforts of Final Score who regularly leave the grounds early, thus depriving us of the opportunity to see the final score are demoralising. The eircom league have 37 live, or as live, games broadcast this season across all competitions[ Setanta Cup incl.]. What a treat, and a chance to convert more followers from the Premiershit.

And forget about making the IPL smaller, and having the remaining sides play each other 4 times; it just get's boring - do the male staff members in lap dancing emporia look happy in their work? Linfield played Glentoran 7 times this season; Drogheda played 6 matches to win the Setanta Cup!

I for one would not be interested in Drogheda playing the same opposition 6 times to win the Setanta Cup. Leagues are about playing every other team home and away once. I'm potentially walking blindly into a steaming curl of dog dirt here, but what are all those little cups about- the Mid Ulster Cup etc. The league sides are playing against minnows, thrashing them soundly, wasting resources. Why?

So follow my easy steps to improve the league, improve the clubs, increase professionalism and kick bottom in the Setanta Cup every year. You're welcome!

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