By Dermot Keely (@keelysbar)
Dundalk, the last team standing in European competition, play tonight in Tallaght, a beautiful stadium, which I believe shows our League at its very best but the match is not on TV. WHY?? This match is very much alive, and the winners will probably play AJAX – what a prize to play for!
You have to wonder what does a League of Ireland team have to do to get on RTE, our “national” broadcaster! We’ve had the situation before this season, when the Shamrock Rovers European tie was not shown. What do we have to do to get proper coverage of our game? I believe there are only two reasons for the game not to be televised.
1. RTE just don’t want to, and don’t have to.
2. The owners of Dundalk for some reason don’t want it to be shown.
To deal with the first point you must look at what RTE are contractually obliged to broadcast every year. Easy you might think, NO!
Nobody knows details of the broadcasting contract because the FAI won’t tell us. Part of the secrecy for which our great leaders are responsible. We know already that the FAI have no interest in supporting our League, so it might be fair to assume that they sold the TV rights for International football and have not included the League in this deal. But we don’t know because it is a SECRET.
We should be promoting League of Ireland. There should a Friday night match on every Friday night, and probably a follow up on another night. The FAI should be able to ensure this happens, offering a package that includes LOI to RTE or another broadcaster.
The belief in RTE is that viewing figures are too low for broadcasting the LOI, but we can only grow these numbers by showing our product every week. RTE have not shown a League match for at least two months. This is a public service station set up not only for major events but to help develop the Arts and Sports area. Last Friday night there was no mention of the FAI Cup, our major Cup competition on the 9 O’Clock news – no mention!!…
Today, while Dundalk is representing Ireland, we can instead watch a programme on Vitamin Pills and a British programme on cars. I don’t imagine the numbers will go through the roof for these mouth-watering programmes.
The second scenario, the one I hope is not the case, is that the owners of Dundalk FC, Peak 6, are not allowing the game to be shown because they want people to go to the match in Dublin.
I hope this is not the case. The people of Dundalk are the most generous people in the world. They will go to see Dundalk whether the match is televised or not. They love “The Town” as much as they are generous and welcoming. They are also capable of withdrawing their support if they think they are being used and abused.
We should have our own stadium, one to match our team. Nothing has been said about developing a stadium. It is now time for everybody to sit down and discuss how we go about getting one. Or is it the case that Peak 6 invests in the team only, win the League year after year, simply for a return on their investment. I hope not. For someone who was adopted by the lovely people of Dundalk I would not like to be Peak 6 and incur their wrath should this be the case.
Tonight I will be watching the Dundalk game which we purchased and is available to supporters outside of Ireland. This is great for us but it is a shame that supporters in Ireland who cannot travel to Tallaght to see the match will have to listen to it on the radio like I used to do when I was a child 60 years ago, surely we should have progressed from this!