Sligo Rovers fans can only be overjoyed about the business their team has been doing during the off season.
They’ve retained the services of key players like goalkeeper Ed McGinty, David Cawley and Neil Morahan. New recruits have come aboard in Greg Bolger, Robbie McCourt, Shane Blaney and Jordan Gibson. Plus, fan favourite Romeo Parkes is being hailed as a returning hero after his stint away in the good old US of A.
However, they may have just announced the best bit of business they will do during this off season.
Ahead of their 2021 Premier Division campaign, Sligo Rovers have announced a new partnership with Premier League club Everton.
The link up is being called a strategic partnership with the two sides working together on off field, business and cross promotional initiatives.
This move just solidifies a strong relationship between Sligo Rovers and the city of Liverpool in general.
Merseyside native Paul Cook guided the ‘Bit o Red’ to back-to-back FAI Cups during his five-year spell as managed. Legendary goal scorer Dixie Dean played for both teams and is beloved for it on either side of the water. Of course, modern day Everton legend Seamus Coleman got his break with Sligo before moving to Everton in 2009.
Speaking on the partnership Coleman said, “I’m delighted with this partnership between two clubs close to my heart in Sligo Rovers and Everton.
This partnership will benefit both clubs and, in particular, can provide support to Sligo from the social and economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.”
Everton’s LOI Link
Most League of Ireland fans will recall this isn’t the first time Everton were affiliated with a side from the league.
‘The Toffees’ linked up with Dublin side Home Farm in a sponsorship deal in 1995, with disastrous results. The two clubs parted ways after their deal collapsed in 1999.
While that sponsorship deal did nothing for Home Farm in the long run, it did benefit Everton.
They had first choice of the best players in the Home Farm ranks, with them renowned for having a hand in the development of Irelands best throughout the years.
Richard Dunne moved to Everton in 1996 to begin his almost 20-year career in England, due to the links between the two clubs.
Similar results could come out of this partnership between Sligo and Everton. No doubting it will mutually benefit both sides.
Sligo have some cracking young talents throughout their entire underage system. Surely, we will be seeing some of them representing Everton in the future if all goes to plan.
However, all of us League of Ireland fans really want to know is, how will this benefit Sligo?
While it’s only early days we’ve been able to gather some good information from statements provided by people at either club.
While it’s very likely Sligo players that are good enough in the Sligo ranks will make the move across the water, the hope is it can work both ways.
Like Sligo, Everton have a commendable youth system with some great facilities at their disposal.
Players from the Everton under 23’s and under 18’s continuously step up to the senior squad. Lads like Anthony Gordon and Jarrad Branthwaite are two examples of academy graduates that find themselves on the brink of breaking into the current first team.
Even down in the under 18’s squad the likes of Lewis Dobbin and Tyler Onyango are expected to come on the scene sooner rather than later.
Young lads from Everton that need vital experience and game time could be shipped out on loan to Sligo. Not under the conditions that they must meet a quota of games. But only play if they are good enough the way they would back home.
Sligo get a good young prospect for a season and the lad in question gets to experience being around a first team squad and learning off the senior players.
While you don’t want Everton castaways or anything like that coming into your side. The Merseyside club do have a good track record in developing these young talents.
This will also build up a pathway for players good enough to make the jump the other way.
While we know a great player in Ireland doesn’t always translate that success over to England. Especially at the heights of the Premier League. If Sligo can insert a sell on clause into the deal it could be a nice finical reward for them in the future.
Help with The Underage System
Nobody is suggesting that Sligo need help with this aspect of the club as they have a mighty fine underage set up. The recent recruitment of Conor O’ Grady as Head of Academy shows their dedication to their young players going forward.
However, if I were a Sligo fan, I would be excited by the aid Everton can give.
This could be the most immediate benefit Sligo will see of this relationship.
As we said, both sides have a thriving underage system. But a side like Everton will be great to help elevate Sligo’s to the next level.
These coaches are working daily with an elite side in the top tier of English football. Say what you want about the way that club is ran, Everton’s youth development can’t be questioned.
The hope should be that these coaches travel to Sligo to observe the way things are done inside the walls of the Showgrounds.
They may be able to offer up a different point of view, tweak techniques and improve the standard of coaching to another level.
Of course, this won’t happen over one visit and will have to be a regular occurrence to see real results.
Like most Premier League clubs, Everton put a real emphasis on promotion and their social media platforms.
They have over two million followers on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram respectively and have a huge reach.
While working together the hope should be that this can not only get more focus on Sligo, but the league in general.
With their hefty social media followers and these cross promotional activities. It would be a huge platform for Sligo Rovers to promote and market themselves when any content collaboration does take place.
It could get more Scouse visitors into the Showgrounds on a Friday night. Or at least bring eyes on their own social media platforms.
Either way, Sligo can only benefit from the marketing and promotion help from a club like Everton and the numbers they attract.
It could hopefully raise the popularity of both Sligo Rovers and the League of Ireland.
Overall, this just seems like some great business by Sligo. Who knows, other clubs in Ireland could do something similar if this is successful.
It’s a relationship that will mutually benefit both parties and on paper can only be good for Sligo Rovers.
While we eagerly await to see how this will all unfold when put into practice, we now pass the question over to you.
What’s your opinion on this new strategic partnership between Sligo Rovers and Everton?
Let us know in the comment section below.
Keep an eye on the Big Kick Off on all social media platforms and check out our website. We are always trying to expand our League of Ireland coverage and have some cool ideas in the pipeline for 2021.
Stay safe and keep supporting local football, you big legends.