Saturday, August 16, 2008

Where Have All The * Gone?

Storm clouds have taken up almost permanent residence over our emerald isle and their primary target seems to be the ailing League of Ireland. Week upon week heaps gloom upon doom and it's becoming tougher for fans to get off the canvas.

Cobh Ramblers, Bohemians, Galway United, Finn Harps, Cork City and Sligo Rovers. Six of the Premier Division's dozen clubs have been awarded unwelcome exposure surrounding their financial difficulties. It reads like a drip feed of death and disease. When it's just one club we can absorb the punch, digest its aftershock and take the standing count. This has been a powerful combination in a season without asterisks.

Those were the days - some shoddily run club would be caught with their hands in a brown envelope. The powers that be would deliver suitable admonishment and the downtrodden club would have to suffer the indignity of playing out the season with an asterisk after their points total. The unexpected descent of Cork City has been hardest to take. Cork look like a proper club; when the camera swings around to the Shed at the Cross they look like proper supporters at a proper ground - a set-up for others to aspire to. That illusion has been splattered.

Where are the FAI through all of this? They released a terse statement in relation to Cork's nervous breakdown in midweek; one which smacked of an annoyed parent having to leave work to collect a persistently unruly child from school.

As the human beings we are, at a time like this we need reassurance and leadership. Neither is forthcoming from Abbotstown. There are multiple theories abroad, even at home - theories are not immune to infection and hyperbole. Maybe there are frantic efforts going on at the highest level in an effort to pour balm on these potentially fatal wounds. On reflection that last sentence really needed a question mark. Maybe this season's financial woes are a means to an end. A purge of sorts as the ruling bureau's tighter rein squeezes the pus to the surface before irrevocable damage can be done - and everything will be OK once we've ridden out these stormy waters.

Or maybe we're in deep manure and nobody in power is doing anything about it. The ordinary fan just does not know and the extraordinary leaders are saying nothing. Meanwhile, these bad news stories continue to feed the print media's insatiable appetite for bad news, heaping further deprecation upon our domestic league. There are many individuals doing untold work to improve the status of our game; this tsunami of silence is rapidly unpicking those efforts.

Earn your junkets FAI and stand up for the League of Ireland.

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