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Thursday, 25 June 2009

Media Watch: The League of Ireland and the Recession

A glum week here on the media watch, given the unsurprising yet nonetheless sad demise of Setanta Sports in the UK. While Setanta Ireland is still on air (at the time of typing), thus meaning that we should still see League football from over here, this week has seen the indefinite postponement of the Setanta Sports Cup. Though never, I felt, the most cherished of competitions, there’s no denying that the loss of its substantial prize money will hurt the finances the League of Ireland clubs you and I adore.

Setanta’s demise comes on a week in which the finances of those same clubs have been under the spotlight. Limerick F.C’s case was widely reported after a public meeting was held in the city on Sunday night. A not-so-sexy 69 people showed up (exactly 500 less than were at Limerick’s 1-0 loss to Shels on Friday) but while the attendance was not the best, the media did their bit to save the Super Blues. By Monday, there were stark headlines in the local press that the club could go out of business this weekend unless €70,000 was found. Right now, again at the time of typing, it looks like the club will stave off the Grim Reaper thanks to a kind offer from a local businessman and the club have the media to thank, in part, for bringing awareness to Limerick’s issues.

While this is one positive way in which the financial woes of a League of Ireland club have been reported, it is in the minority. Also on Monday, the Irish Independent previewed the draws for the Qualifying Rounds of the Champions League and UEFA Cup Light a.k.a. the Europa League, focussing on Bohemians and explaining how a long European run was just what the bank manager, and not hte doctor, had ordered for the Gypsies. Alongside the article was a ‘helpful’ table which detailed the financial situations of the four clubs in the pot. Derry’s was the most positive even though, depressingly, the paper detailed vague rumours about their finances. The less said about Cork, Bohs and Sligo, the better. Was this really necessary? Could the Indo not have examined our improved European performances in recent years and wondered if this was the year that we would see a breakthrough for an Irish club?

Limerick and the European 4 aren’t the only clubs in trouble, of course. There have been problems at my own Galway United and at Drogheda also. We’ve heard all their stories, all topped with bleak headlines, particularly in the national press. While we hate to read or hear about these problems, the case in Limerick this week shows that on a local level at least, there is a groundswell of public will that wants to see our clubs survive these tough times. No League of Ireland club has yet gone to ground during this recession and long may that statement remain factually correct. We have a vibrant league, we have teams who play good football and we have players who are very, very talented. We’re just not told about them.

The League of Ireland needs an injection of positivity. The media can and should do its bit.

This was originally posted over on http://www.extratime.ie


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