Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Guilt By Association

Panglossian - there it is - defined as naively optimistic. I didn't feel that way at the outset though. I was one of those who welcomed the FAI's intentions towards our domestic league. It seemed a no lose situation for supporters, whether they be of the long or short suffering kind. The previous incumbents had consistently displayed their reckless attitude to our ailing divisions; consistently plunging them into freakshow status much to the glee and amusement of the supporters who are usually supported by armchairs.

The appointment of the Club Promotion Officers seemed a positive step; advertisements began to pop up like paedophiles at a jamboree. We were inundated with an unprecedented quantity of televised fixtures across three channels - barely a week passed without armchair football. Recently, the humble eircom League was introduced to 21st Century gameplay when EA Sports included the league in it's newest FIFA game.

Regular press receptions to announce such progressions resulted in greater TV and newspaper coverage all through the season. All but the diesel launderers in Dundalk seemed content to forgive the sins of the past and embrace the feelgood factor fostered by the FAI. Even when Longford Town were deducted six points few could argue.

This was a different sort of points deduction - a fair one - why even Alan Matthews has professed strongly on behalf of the judgement; whether or no he knew there was a position down the line on the new U23 backroom staff is open to discussion.

Some of the more jaded league-weary supporters will be sneering at my foolishness; they knew that given time the FAI would botch something up with great style and no little aplomb. When it finally came, it was more of a backfire than a direct hit. But then all of the most inept operators eventually fall victim to their own ineptitudes.

We had the situation where a Gang Of 6 clubs complained to the FAI about the looming 65% wage cap; they were reputed to be dissatisfied with the amount of money and attention being lavished on the senior international squad - to the detriment they felt of the domestic league.

There we were, enjoying the tension of the title run-in, listening to the squeaking bottoms of the relegation fodder a world apart from the Gaffer. Poor Stan, gone and forgotten; forever to be the Gaffer.

The amateur actions of the FAI throughout the dying days of Staunton's reign have again tarnished Irish football with the leftovers of a dirty protest. Firstly John Delaney's unstinting support for his man dissipated - radio reports replayed his 'Staunton's there for 4 years' speech. Of course most of us didn't care to much about this once Stan got the bullet. One thing the FAI are kings of is the messy break up, and they showed this week that they have lost none of their old sharpness.

The protracted dismissal, the ridiculous runaround - seeming to shy from the media on the last day. Then the even more ridiculous early morning announcement that they are so scared of criticism of their decision making that they will not pick the next Irish manager. As my better half has often suggested to me - grow a pair!

This committee has presided over one of Irish football's most ill-managed affairs; they have turned the sacking and subsequent appointment of a manager into the kind of freakish sideshow once reserved for League of Ireland.

This now becomes another stick for the eircom League's many detractors; we are guilty by association- the football association of Ireland. And I have lost my pangloss man.

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