Wednesday, May 30, 2007

MIDWEEK TREKKING

The Waterford United Official Supporters Club recently penned an open letter bemoaning, amongst other things, the fact that their club had to fulfil a midweek fixture in far flung Derry. The expense involved in part-timers needing time off work, the total lack of away support were cited as reasons for their grievance.

Ok, in the case of Waterford United the fall off in away support would hardly be noticed in comparison to their usually massive travelling support; but that need not mask the unwieldy nature of such fixtures. The Premier League is not yet a fully professional set-up, and it is foolish to inflict any unnecessary expense on already needy clubs.

The letter was greeted in some quarters with accusations of amateurism; suggesting that if Waterford United had big problems with such a fixture they could sling their hook. But surely a slick professional machine - the kind of machine that the new-look league aspires to being - can easily circumvent these problems.

There is only one series of midweek games fixed in the Premier Division for this season...

Tues. 29 May Bray Wanderers v U.C.D.
Derry City v Waterford United
Longford Town v Galway United
Sligo Rovers v Drogheda United
Shamrock Rovers v Cork City

...and the televised Dublin derby 'twixt Pats and Bohs on Monday 28th May.

Why could it not have read Bray v UCD; Derry v Sligo; Waterford v Cork and Rovers v Drogs? Shorter travelling times for the away teams, along with the possibility of more travelling support. How can that be wrong? If there is a need for a series of midweek games then those fixtures can be cast in stone with the outstanding 32 games fitting around them.

Even if it involved a team travelling from one end of the country to the other on a Friday night, supporters have the comfort of knowing that they have Saturday off work when arriving home in the small wee hours. We do still want to make it easier for them to get to games don't we?

The early stages of the League Cup are played midweek; they are regionalised, so someone in power has given the concept a modicum of thought. At the risk of repeating what has oft been repeated, we need bums on seats. The FAI, CPO's and clubs generally, have worked hard to increase attendances this season; we all agree that this is the way forward. Still, there is nothing 'professional' about dragging Waterford United or any club to the opposite end of the island to fulfil a midweek engagement before a few hundred people.

The WUOSC letter should have the endorsement of all supporters of the league.




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