Dermot Keely Column: A good week for Irish Football

What a good week for Irish Football. Two great performances from the best 2 teams in the country – Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers. Both teams showed their character and their self belief. Both teams gave away really early goals and both came back to draw and win respectively. These performances are great news for our league. People have to remember that at the moment it is Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers representing our League, but it will not always be these two teams, other teams will get a chance..

I have been reading about teams complaining about matches being called off because of European games. Two things strike me about this moaning. One we are a national League. The clubs involved are representing our League. We are not the GAA; we are not based on the parish/county model. We are National. When our current teams do well, the teams that will represent us in the next few years will benefit. So let’s get rid of Parish Pump politics and complaining!

My second point concerns the plight of the smaller clubs, in fact all of the other clubs who are not in Europe. They lose out on gate receipts when matches are called off. This is a huge problem for the clubs as regards week to week cash flow. But clubs do not call off matches – the League does, hence the problem. The FAI does not give a damn about our League. There is no planning for Europe when they organise the fixtures list at the start of the season. They know which clubs are involved and should be able to plan for the European games in their fixture list.

Secondly the League should be able to cover the loss of gate receipts. Maybe a small levy on European earnings could be applied. This would have to be ring fenced and used only to help clubs which are affected by a European Campaign. It obviously would have to be open and honest. These are two words that you would not put in the same sentence as the FAI at the moment…

Part of the problem with the lack of interest the FAI have in our League was highlighted last week when Shamrock Rovers played Apollon Limassol in a packed Tallaght stadium. The Rovers performance matched the great crowd, but unfortunately our National Broadcaster chose to ignore this game completely. You would have to wonder what deal is done with RTE. Do they pay only for the right to show International football and then choose what they want when it comes to League of Ireland. If RTE want to show IRELAND playing they should have to show a number of LEAGUE OF IRELAND GAMES also. Their lack of respect or interest is so disheartening for the league.

But we need an association that backs our League not ignores it. Nothing that went on at the AGM convinced me that change is afoot. Changes are being made to the structures but no changes are being made to the culture. They were very quick to implement the change that allowed 2 Board Members to stay on for a year.  It also appears that people who were previously on the board can put themselves forward for election next year.  As I said in my last blog – NO!!! The two members who are staying on for a year should announce publicly that they are doing so for a year and then they will resign and not go forward for any position on the new board or for any of the subsidiary roles next year.

No one who has served under John Delaney should be allowed into a position of power nor should any of their acolytes, a clean sweep is needed. The mantra that “we did not know what was going on” is not acceptable. Ignorance is not an excuse.

Wishing Dundalk and Rovers the very best of luck in their games tonight and tomorrow. We will have a good LOI crowd in Keely’s Bar Lanzarote cheering them on.



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