Friday, September 05, 2008

Friday Fliuch-ed

Waterworld has returned to our greens and as I write all but two of Friday night's games are underwater and awaiting a refix. The usual quips about summer football are as plentiful as the precipitation but extensive scientific research has proven beyond all doubt that the FAI are no longer responsible for weather on matchdays.

The vacuum for football fans is but a temporary one however as Pats and Bohs go nose to nose on Monday night in a crucial league clash. In effect Dublin City Council, courtesy of their favourable arrangement with the rain gods, have done the Saints a wee favour ahead of the game. Pats have a lot of football in the pipeline and were facing into tonight's proposed game against Galway carrying a lot of knocks and strains. The extra few days of regimented inactivity will serve as a boon to Johnny Mc ahead of a game which his side must win to retain an anorexic hope of a run in next season's Champions League.

The last fortnight has provided us with more talking points than even an Irish mammy could handle; the largely unanticipated demise of Cork City and its attendant financial woes; the budget shortfall at Bohs and concerns of certain sections of their support as to where the club are headed and of course the Saints superb on-field success in UEFA Cup action. That is not to neglect the traumas at Sligo Rovers, Cobh Ramblers and Drogheda United. Truly these are tightrope times for the eircom Boylesports Ford League of Ireland.

Various figures are aflight in the media with regards to financial shortfalls. Cork €1.3m; Bohs €.53m; Cobh €.4m; Sligo €90k. Those four amounts total €2.32m. Last weekend, as the shutters were pulled down on the English transfer window it was estimated that £300m worth of deals were done on the final day. Lest you slid by the symbol, that was in the currency of QS - Queen's Shilling. Current rate of exchange equates that sum to over €370m euro.

Expletive deleted et cetera. Truly we are minions in world football. The outcry and furore over our fiscal woes is cast into the shade by such leviathan figures. That should not distract us from the fact that in relative terms those debts present a heavy burden to our clubs and that is oft trodden ground in recent times.

On a grim day there is a bright note. And it results from action on the field as opposed to inaction off it. The Saints have raised the spirits of all fans with their European success. Many times we have read and heard that getting into the Champions League Group stages is the Holy Grail for us - doubtless it would provide a welcome distraction for any club - as a result we have tended to ignore the possibilities presented us by the UEFA Cup.

Pats, is has been said, stand to make about €750k from their First Round tie with Hertha Berlin. For the players there will be the kudos of appearing at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin. For the Board at Richmond Park there is the kudos of sitting in the Direktor's Box at said venue, added to the welcome financial inflow.

Brighter than all of that stuff is the news of how the nice board from Inchicore have chosen to deal with disappointed supporters. How have Pats got disappointed supporters? Not only disappointed, but out of pocket. These quick-fingered fans swooped to book flights for the game in Germany on September 18th; only to find that following consultations with TV companies and other clubs it was decided to switch the game to Tuesday 14th September. The Germans you see have six clubs in European action that week and this date change offers some exclusivity to the Pats fixture and ensures that the money continues to come in. all reasonable enough, as long as you aren't one of the early bookers.

Fret not, the Saints in a moment of philandery have agreed to reimburse those who have incurred added expense as a result of the unforeseen switch. A little ray of sunshine on a piss poor day.

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