Here we go again! Another fantastic result in Europe for a League of Ireland side. And were RTE covering it….? No.
It’s the third round of the Europa Conference League and Bohemians are playing Greek giants PAOK at the Aviva. The Phibsborough team had already seen off Icelandic side Stjarnan and Luxembourg side Dudelange in very convincing style.
PAOK though are huge in Greece. With players like Shinji Kagawa, Nélson Oliveira and Portuguese European Championship winner Vieirinha this side is a huge step up in class. Also the budget of any Irish club side pales in comparison to the Greek club. Their side is valued at an estimated €65 million.
On paper it’s a no contest all day long. Thankfully football isn’t played on paper. Keith Longs young, energetic and talented Bohemians side played on the front foot for most of the game. They showed the world that football in Ireland is not doomed.
Winning 2-1 in the first leg is great and all but it’s the manor that they won the game that is more impressive. Daring as they have been recently in the league to keep the ball, move it quickly and trust in our footballing youth. Players like Dawson Devoy, Ross Tierney and Ciaran Kelly have been a breath of fresh air to watch this season. As have the team in general after a rocky start where they were gelling as a group.
The assured performances so far in this competition from Bohemians and recent European success from Dundalk show the league is a stepping in the right direction. The underage LOI leagues I believe are a success. It gives more time for club’s to coach, develop and educate younger players.
Where were RTE?
The big question is where were our national broadcasters? Some will say at the Olympics. That doesn’t stack up. The Olympics are not on every year and the League of Ireland is ignored on a consistent basis. So do the big wigs at RTE believe that the League of Ireland is beneath them?
In my opinion yes the do. They have never given the league the coverage it deserves. Football is the largest participated sport in the country bar none. Yet our national league is snubbed.
You might say ‘most viewers would rather watch the Premier League’. I believe its the states national broadcasters duty to promote the game in our country to the best of it’s ability. After all it’s the taxpayer’s money funding the station. That has not been happening!
We will hear how the League of Ireland is a niche market and it is hard for RTE to make money from its exposure. It is not the sole focus on every programme for RTE to make money off of it. If the league had been treasured and promoted over the years then RTE would be reaping the rewards now from a profitable advertising business model.
RTE is there to serve the public. They are funded by the public to benefit it’s people. Last year RTE paid its top ten presenters over €3.2 million in wages. Enough said.
Live games are sporadic. Since June, RTE dumped the league only committing to part of the season. Budget constraints mean the Olympics gets the vote… apparently. But it seems every association with the exception of the League of Ireland has been looked after. The league or Irish football in general is definitely not at the front of their thoughts.
They had Soccer Republic on a Monday night when the games are played on a Friday night. In this day and age of mobile phones where you have seen and know every detail of a game in no time, broadcasting hi-lights three days later and expecting people to watch them is baffling. They gave the programme the chop blaming low figures. Mother of God and the wee donkey give me strength.
The Soccer Republic example sums up the disregard RTE have for the development of football in our country. The GAA have matches on a Sunday and the Sunday game on that night.
I’m sure in a country where the GAA hold alot of votes in alot of important areas they are looked after very well. Look at their infrastructure for example. How much money has been pumped into League of Ireland stadiums to give them the leg up the GAA get?
Don’t get me wrong, I think the GAA should get it. But I also feel that the League of Ireland should benefit in the same way. It would create jobs and build a footballing structure that would encourage football fans to enter League of Ireland games. It’s all about the match day experience as much as watching a game.
Lack of Funding
Can I point the finger of blame on RTE on that? Yes and no. No because the government has let down the league in this regard. Yes because if there was more promotion of the league through the national broadcaster then that in turn would put pressure on government to place more money in the league’s infrastructure. Also we as footballing people need to shout more and be heard.
One way or the other for the game to grow in this country it needs to be promoted in a stronger fashion. The lack of support from our government and RTE towards the LOI has been nothing short of a disgrace. Its a slap in the face to every schoolboy coach, manager, committee member and parent who give so much time to the game they love. Let alone all the aspiring young players who deserve a league that they can dream to play in and be proud to play in.
The league can be a successful and profitable business as well as an entertaining sport. The clubs like Bohemians in Europe last night are giving us those fantastically entertaining nights. The standard is slowly improving.
To improve the standard at a quicker rate we need promotion. RTE have failed Irish Football. They either step up now or the League of Ireland clubs need to work hard together as a League to take the next step on fron LOITV and do it themselves. And it can be done!