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Should Derry return to the Irish League?

Joel Taggart | 10:22 UK time, Monday, 26 October 2009

As I read this week about the problems facing Derry City, my mind went back to a Setanta Cup semi-final last season when Glentoran played Drogheda United.

Drogheda were facing financial meltdown and winning the Setanta Cup was the only chance the players had of getting some of the wages they were owed.

Tam McManus and Thomas Stewart of Derry City

Now, apart from the obvious irony that Setanta were to be the financial saviours and they themselves have fallen on hard times, I cannot help but wonder why so many of the teams in the League of Ireland got it so wrong when it came to chasing the full-time dream.

I remember speaking to an official at Drogheda that night with Roy Walker who was working with me on BBC Radio Ulster. He told us that the weekly wage bill for players, coaches and other staff at the club was somewhere in the region of $40,000 Euros. I nearly fell off my seat.

This was a club with a ground capacity of less than 3,000. I am no accountant but to me it did not seem to make economic sense.

This road to nowhere for Derry, Drogheda and the rest probably started in 2004 when Shelbourne reached the third qualifying round of the Uefa Champions League, just one tie away from reaching the group stage.

Such was the interest in the game against Deportivo La Coruna that it was switched to Lansdowne Road and Shels managed a 0-0 draw in front of their home fans before losing in Spain despite a heroic performance.

The problem came when Shelbourne, and many other clubs thought this type of progress would be the norm and that it was only a matter of time before an Irish club side made it through to Europe's top table and the promised land of the group stages of the Champions League.

Looking from the outside, it appears to me that a fundamental mistake or oversight, call it what you will, occurred at this point.

When the clubs decided to go full-time to follow the dream they forgot one small detail. While budgeting for the best case scenario of winning the league and booking their place in the qualifying rounds, it would appear that nobody had the sense to point out that only one team could qualify for the Champions League qualifying rounds each year.

This reality was forgotten in the excitement and nobody thought to ask the question of what happens to the teams with full-time players and staff who do not make it into the moneybags matches in the Champions League.

We all know the answer to that question now. Just ask the fans of Drogheda United, Shelbourne or Cork City who appear to avoid administration as often as Cheryl Cole cries on X Factor.

Now it is Derry City where the axe is about to fall with players being left without wages. Six years or so of full-time football has still failed to deliver a league title. So where do the Candystripes go from here?

Well back to part-time football and possibly the Irish League. When you sit down and look at things in the cold light of day it is probably the most viable way of Derry City being able to maintain their senior status.

Manager Stephen Kenny has already hinted at the possibility of the current financial problems forcing the Candystripes to drop down a division in the League of Ireland.

Former Glentoran chairman Stafford Reynolds has already leant his support to the idea suggesting that he and many others associated with Irish League clubs would be happy to roll out the welcome mat after an absence of almost 40 years.

Former Derry and Glentoran striker Liam Coyle told Sportsound on BBC Radio Ulster that he thought Derry returning to the Irish League was the best way forward if the club was to survive.

However, it is important to remember that the Irish League is not some sort of footballing paradise, free from the evils of financial ruin. Certainly not.

Another crazy figure that left me almost speachless came from a colleague of mine who told me that the combined wage bill for Linfield and Glentoran for one season is currently in the region of £1.1million. Is that sustainable?

Glenavon chairman Adrian Tear on the programme rammed home the point that 75% of the revenue at his club has to be generated from income streams other than gate receipts.

Having said that, I have no doubt that Derry City in the new Carling Premiership would make it a better league. It would be foolish for those in authority not to make representations to the Brandywell to investigate the possibility of bringing a club of that size and stature back into the Irish League fold.

With such a fan base and travelling support such a move could only be good for the game here and surely politically the time is right.

If Derry City decided to come back to Irish League football then the top flight north of the border would be stronger for their presence and it would be another reality check for those who believe that full-time football is sustainable in Ireland.


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  • 1. At 1:26pm on 26 Oct 2009, Flash_oh_oh wrote:

    Whats this? The self-proclaimed 'European Heavyweights' Derry City wanting to join a little league like ours?

    For years they scoffed at the quality of the Irish League and continually reminded us how the Eircom League was the be-all and end-all.

    Our League may not be the best or of the highest quality, but its a competitive and honest competition.

    I say we let our 'illustrious friends' carry on where they are.

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  • 2. At 1:58pm on 26 Oct 2009, blueJohnBoyle wrote:

    Two points Flash_oh_oh;

    1. Derry do not want to re-join the Irish League.

    2. The Irish League is not a competitive or honest competition - if it was Derry wouldn't have sought to join the League of Ireland in the first place.

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  • 3. At 3:44pm on 26 Oct 2009, windsor15percent wrote:

    If Derry City are deemed unfit to continue in the Eircom, why would they be an asset to the Irish Premiier League?
    How much longer should the rate payers of Londonderry have to partly fund this club?
    Can the Derry City officals guarantee the safety of visiting fans to the Brandywell?
    Why should they not suffer the same fate as Shelbourne who were relegated to Division 1?

    So many questions....

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  • 4. At 4:27pm on 26 Oct 2009, windsor15percent wrote:


    I think you will find that Derry City withdrew from the Irish League when the RUC could no longer guarantee the safety of travelling fans and players to the Brandywell.

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  • 5. At 4:58pm on 26 Oct 2009, blueJohnBoyle wrote:


    The RUC cleared the way for games to be played in the Brandywell which the IFA chose to ignore. In the period prior to joining the LOI, Derry City did seek on numerous occasions to re-join the Irish League, with applications supported by RUC assurances, only to be rejected on each seperate occasion by the IFA.

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  • 6. At 6:14pm on 26 Oct 2009, SS123 wrote:

    Why would we want Derry city back in the irish league,

    1. They don't want to be in the irish league
    2. Why should Linfield and Glentoran have to play at the brandywell, our safety can not be assured as has been proved on previous outings to the brandywell in the setanta.
    3. Just because their struggling with money and getting threatened with relegation, why should the irish league allow them back in. Surely if they have money problems then this should be sorted before being allowed in the league.

    Personally I would like to see Derry city playing the likes of Linfield and Glentoran on a more regular but I definitely don't agree with just letting them in because they've messed themselves up financially, plus the concern of safety when travelling to the brandywell.

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  • 7. At 6:49pm on 26 Oct 2009, Owlboy66 wrote:

    I think that the history books will show that Derry City's attempts to maintain Irish League status back in the bad old days did not get the full backing of some of their colleagues.

    Naturally enough there were concerns about the safety of visiting fans to the Brandywell. The club was playing its matches at the Coleraine Showgrounds and was prepared to return to the Brandywell when the security forces confirmed that that there were no safety issues - an they of all people would have been best able to assess the situation.

    In spite of this assurance, the football authorities -in other words some of the other clubs - refused to play there. When it came to a vote, Derry's support included Portadown and, I think, Ballymena. Among those clubs that voted against a return were Linfield and Glentoran - and suprisingly Coleraine too.

    It seems that withdrawal was forced on the Candystripes.

    There should be a place for them back in the Irish League if the club wants to apply. It would probably have to spend a season in the Championship and then work its way into the senior ranks.

    Theirs is a proud history and it would add another dimension to the local game.

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  • 8. At 8:45pm on 26 Oct 2009, windsor15percent wrote:

    Bluejohnboyle..The Brandywell was considered too dangerous for opponents to play at by the RUC after the Ballymena team bus was attacked and burnt out by a mob of Bogside locals. Derry City moved their home games to Coleraine. Not enough Derry fans were prepared to travel 30 miles to see their team and they were in danger of finanical collapse.
    In 1972 the RUC had no objections to the Brandywell being used for football again but the rest of the Irish League clubs voted against a return to the ground.

    If you consider that this decsion by the clubs was set against what was happening in Londonderry at this time, it is hardly surprising that the clubs were unwilling to risk the lives of the players or the travelling fans.

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  • 9. At 9:31pm on 26 Oct 2009, candystripe-oakleaf wrote:

    Many reasons have been given as to why Derry City play their football in the eL rather than the IL. Some are close to the truth while some others are so far out you wonder where it comes from. So if you bear with me I’ll do my best to explain the reasons why we did end up withdrawing from the IL.

    First let me take you back prior to the ‘troubles’. Whenever we played a cup game against a Belfast team, if it went to a replay, it would inevitably have to be played in Belfast. It took Derry years and years of arguing with the IFA about the unfairness in that before the IFA eventually climbed down. However instead of these games being played in the obvious choice of Coleraine, the games were played in Ballymena, which is about 2/3 way to Belfast.

    In 1964 we won the Irish Cup and thus qualified for Europe. In the first round we played Steaua Bucharest home (Brandywell) and away, but we were beaten 5-0 on aggregate. That same year we won the league, and that meant that the following year we would be back playing in Europe. This time we drew the Norwegian team FK Lynn. In the first game we were beaten 5-3 in Oslo. The return leg in Brandywell was played in very bad weather. It had rained incessantly from the previous day, but that didn’t stop a full house watch Derry City win 5-1 and be the first team in the IL to win a two legged European Cup tie, and get past the first round. The fans went home drenched, but delighted, what they didn’t know was that there were forces at work out there, who would deny Derry their night of glory.

    In the next round Derry drew Belgium champions Anderlecht. As soon as the draw was made, the IFA through it’s chairman, Mr Harry Cavan, let it be made known that the Brandywell pitch would have to be inspected before the IFA would allow the game to be played. Only six members of the committee turned up on the night the IFA debated the issue, and they refused to let the Derry City representative attend the meeting, The committee recommended to the European Union that Derry City be banned from playing their home games at Brandywell. Derry City of course reacted in anger and said, “No Brandywell, No match.”
    Now Anderlecht officials visited the Brandywell and said they had no problem with the Brandywell pitch, and would willingly play the game in Brandywell. One of their officials had claimed that in another European game, they had played on a pitch of cinders. UEFA said that they had no problems with Derry playing at home, but added that it was up to Derry City’s own football association the IFA. The IFA stood by their decision, and after the first leg in Belgium, where Derry were beaten 9-0, they withdrew from the competition. What was so angering was the fact that the year before when Derry played Steaua and were beaten, Brandywell wasn’t a problem, but as soon as they won a game they were banned by Mr Cavan. Unique in the history of European football.

    By 1969 trouble had erupted all over the North, British troops had entered Derry to restore calm. Because of the ban on the RUC and the British military entering the Bogside, the IFA banned all games at Brandywell, because in their opinion they couldn’t be policed adequately. Derry played 10 successive games away from home and the club lost a lot of revenue.

    Harry Cavan, the IFA President, made a statement saying that there was no bias towards Derry City, and that they could again play in Europe, as soon as their ground was brought up to standard. However, although asked repeatedly by Derry City and some journalists, he was not prepared to tell anyone what that standard was, or in what way was the ground not up to standard.

    On Sept 25th the IL vetoed a Gold Cup against Ards. The Derry Citizens Action Committee guaranteed they would provide stewards for the game, and Ards to their credit, said they would play, but the IL wouldn’t listen. On Oct 18th Derry played their first home game against Ards, in the IL. But when Derry drew Linfield in the semi-final of the cup, Derry City were amazed to be told, that they had to travel to the Oval for the game. A very low gate of £900, showed how angry the Derry supporters were. The game was marred by hooligans from a section of the Linfield support, who poured into the empty seats in the main stand, and attacked and abused Derry fans with sectarian ranting. For the record, Linfield won 2-1.
    Derry’s home league game against Linfield, was moved by the IFA to Coleraine. The reason given for that was that there MIGHT be repercussions against the Linfield supporters, because of Linfield’s supporters behaviour in the cup-tie. And to rub it in, the IFA ordered Derry to pay Linfield £75, guaranteed to away teams. The gate was only £70, and of course Derry lost heavily. So the disgraceful behaviour of the Linfield hooligans was rewarded by the IFA.

    The following season, The Security Council banned home games against the Glens and Linfield. This again angered Derry, for they found it incredulous that they were being told, that it wasn’t safe for Glentoran and Linfield supporters to come to Brandywell, but it was ok for Derry supporters to go to Windsor Park and East Belfast. Derry played six away games before they played their first home game of the season at the Brandywell.

    On Nov the Security Council amazingly decided that Derry should play Linfield in Windsor Park. Derry refused to travel, as they said their players would be at risk, and couldn’t accept that their players were in no danger. The Irish League Rules Revision Committee (there’s a mouthful) accepted Derry’s reason for not travelling. But then ordered Derry to pay Linfield £300 and awarded the 2 points to Linfield. Amazing, but just another nail in the coffin.

    Again Linfield were Derry’s opponents in the semi-final of the cup, but this time the IFA relented and played the game at Coleraine. This was Derry’s last cup game against Linfield, and for the record Derry won 1-0.
    Derry faced Distillery in the final, and a major shock was, that Windsor Park was appointed as the venue. No amount of protest would budge the IFA, they were implacable, so under duress Derry went ahead with the game.

    This match became known as ‘The Silent Final’. Derry sold only 150 of 2000 stand tickets. The Final was also marred by trouble, when opposing Belfast factions rioted on the unreserved side of the ground. Cars were also attacked as they tried to leave the area around Windsor Park. What a contrast from the 1964 Final when 28000 watched the game against Glentoran without a hint of trouble.

    Harry Cavan also let it be known, that if Derry won the Cup they would not be allowed to play in Europe. Again the IFA showed they had absolutely no sympathy for Derry City when they ordered them to play their postponed game against Linfield again at Windsor Pk.

    In season 70-71, after three successive games at home Derry played Ballymena Utd. During the game, and unnoticed to those who were attending the game, a crowd entered the adjoining Showgrounds. There they took the Ballymena team bus, pushed it along the Lone Moor Road and on to Foyle Road, where they set it alight. This was to have disastrous consequences for Derry City, and was the start of the countdown to the demise of Derry City in the IL. Ballymena and their official were magnanimous in their praise of Derry City and their official who got them transport to take them home. Many then jumped on the bandwagon and demanded a ban of all games in the Brandywell. The IFA quickly accepted the ban.

    City tried to arrange to have their home games in the mean time played in Limavady, but ‘other interests’ in Limavady let it be known they would not be welcome. Derry then asked if they could use Finn Harps ground in Ballybofey, but that also was turned down, by the IFA. In the meantime Coleraine, offered their ground, and as Derry had no alternative, they accepted.

    When Derry was drawn at ‘home’ against Ballyclare Comrades in the IFA Cup, the IFA acted like something straight out of the comics. Coleraine were drawn against Distillery who were also homeless. They were supposed to play the game in Seaview, But Cruasaders were also drawn at home, so Distillery had to play their ‘home’ game in Coleraine, and Derry had to play their ‘home’ game in Ballyclare, where the hostility of the home crowd was very perceptible.

    On Aug 7th, the following season, the security forces and the IFA indicated they were ready to let games resume at the Brandywell. But the IL announced that it was not safe security wise. In other words, they were telling the security forces that they knew better than them. To spotlight the intransigence of the IL was the fact that the Derry City Greyhound Racing Company had commenced ‘the dogs’ and there had been no difficulty getting breeders from all over the north to participate.

    On Sept 6th Derry were informed officially by the security authorities in the city that as far they were concerned competitive senior soccer could be played at Brandywell. Derry immediately dispatched a letter to the Emergency Committee of the League, informing them of the security decision. Was that the end of it, was it hell.

    The Emergency Committee replied to the letter by informing Derry City that their registered ground was Coleraine. What a slap in the face. Derry naturally reacted by telling them, that like seven years earlier, “No Brandywell, no match”. The IFA in returned ordered Derry to play their ‘home’ game against Bangor in Coleraine. Derry simply said “No”…..The next move is up to the League”.
    Derry continued to play their away games, but it was getting more futile. Then the IL made an announcement, that a special meeting would be held by the Irish League Management Committee on Oct 7th. What had happened was, that Portadown asked the IL to rescind the ban on matches at the Brandywell

    At the meeting a vote was held among the senior teams. For going back to play at the Brandywell were, Portadown (the proposers) Bangor, Cliftonville, Ballymena Utd, and naturally Derry themselves. Against the motion were, Linfield, Glentoran, Crusaders, Ards, Glenavon and unbelievably Distillery. Our neighbours Coleraine abstained. That meant that the vote to keep the ban was won by a majority of votes 6-5. If Coleraine had of voted with Derry City it would have been a tied vote, and the ban would have failed, as a majority of votes was needed to carry it through.

    That night we found out who our friends really were.

    On Friday Oct 13th, the Derry Board met. The decision was to withdraw from the Irish League, and all it’s other competitions. The decision was unanimous, and so Derry City remained out of senior soccer for 13 years, until they were welcomed into the eircom League, in 1985.

    I hope this clears up some of the different opinions that have been knocked around about City’s exit from the IL. I would ask you to think how would you feel if your club was treated as shamelessly as Derry City were. Imagine being banned from playing in Europe by your own association. We the people in Derry know that the reasons for banning us not only from Europe, but also from participating in senior soccer was taken for sectarian reasons and for sectarian reasons only. Just look at the amount of trouble there has been in IL grounds over the years, and ask yourself what punishment did the clubs receive.

    Now on hindsight we have to say we owe Harry Cavan and his IL a debt of gratitude, and a big thank you for forcing us out. Our derby game now is against Finn Harps. The stand is packed by Derry City and Finn Harps supporters. We stand together, we cheer our respective teams together, and we leave the ground together. That could, and would not happen if we were in the IL.

    Anyway, you can all make up your mind. Myself i hope we never darken their doors.

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  • 10. At 10:01pm on 26 Oct 2009, windsor15percent wrote:


    Well informed piece on Derry except you fail to mention that it was the other Irish League clubs who vetoed the return to the Brandywell in 1972. And given the terrible violence that was ocurring in the vitual no go areas of the Bogside, can you really blame these clubs for not wanting to put life at risk by travelling to Londonderry.

    Don't blame the IFA or the other Irish clubs for the ban in 1972 remaining. Unfortunately it was the violent times orchestrated by the IRA Derry Brigade that was ultimately to blame.

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  • 11. At 10:26pm on 26 Oct 2009, candystripe-oakleaf wrote:

    Excuse me? You should read the article again.
    The security forces had cleared the brandywell of any risk.
    Some people just can't be talked to. I didn't realise that the troubles only happened in Derry and that everywhere else was a utopian paradise.

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  • 12. At 11:13pm on 26 Oct 2009, windsor15percent wrote:

    I still stand by my point. Why should the clubs at that time take the risk even with an RUC assurance. You seem to gloss over the burning of the Ballymena bus when really it was a serious incident with the subsquent ban on the Brandywell.

    The real point being discussed is Derry's failure to manage their finanical affairs off the park and their poor form on the park. That is where you are as a club are today. The Irish League don't want you and you probably don't want to have to apply to rejoin the league. Fair enough.
    But don't be surprized if the realists at the club jump at the chance to rejoin the league if it offers finanical salvation.

    Derry City will be almost certainly relegated along with Cork if the FIA stick to the rules they laid down to all the Eircom clubs at the start of the season.

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  • 13. At 09:01am on 27 Oct 2009, onaroll wrote:

    windsor15percent - I agree Derry have clearly failed to manage their financial affairs and not for the first time. There have been numerous 'bail outs' in recent years. Despite that however, Derry have a good side, great fans and have produced much talent in recent years. The standard of the football now being played in the Eircom league far exceeds anything I watched as a lad so I don't think your point 'where you are as a club today' really sticks in terms of the quality of the side or as a reflection of the quality of the football which has been played over the past 5 years or so. I really hope, whatever the outcome that sectarianism has as little a part to play in this as possible. That should be firmly constrained to the past, as hard as that might be for many people to accept.

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  • 14. At 10:42am on 27 Oct 2009, Blue Hammer wrote:

    As a Linfield fan of many years, I take no pride in our part in the loss of Derry from the IL. The full story above from "candy-stripe oakleaf" paints a very poor picture of the treatment received by Derry city from the IL and the other clubs, and is a sad microcosm of life here in the 70s. Maybe things can be better in the future . . . . .

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  • 15. At 11:20pm on 27 Oct 2009, scrapoffside wrote:

    I would welcome Derry City into the Irish League. Most of the objections are based on what happened many years ago. I believe we have all moved on and changed for the better today. If it would bebefit the Irish League Clubs and Derry City financially its a win win situation for both parties

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  • 16. At 11:33am on 28 Oct 2009, Wolfe71 wrote:

    One thing this article fails to do is to state what the financial motivation would be for Derry to join the Irish League? Their current woes have comes about because of unrealistic ambition rather than because they play in the League of Ireland, and I'm not convinced that moving to the Irish League would solve their financial worries.

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  • 17. At 11:39am on 28 Oct 2009, scrapoffside wrote:

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  • 18. At 11:51am on 28 Oct 2009, scrapoffside wrote:

    If Derry City moved to the Irish League there must be noticable savings on travelling expenses alone for the Club and their supporters. It must cost thousands to play Cork away. It would bring bigger crowds to the irish league games as well as Derry are a well supported team. I know if they were playing Portadown at Shamrock Park it would attract a big crowd

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  • 19. At 2:45pm on 28 Oct 2009, adib1s1 wrote:

    The main reason Derry City are in financial trouble is down to the fact that their two biggest sponsors went into liquidation earlier this year meaning they had to find over £100,000 in revenue elsewhere, which is not an easy thing to do in this current economic climate. They may be paying a little too much in wages but it is not unsustainable and it is certainly nowhere in the region of what Bohemians, Drogheda, St. Pats or Cork City have been paying theirs in recent seasons.

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  • 20. At 7:10pm on 28 Oct 2009, David Scott wrote:

    Full-time football is not viable in Ireland - 26 or 6 counties - because of the current set-up. Which of the two leagues Derry play in makes not diddley squat of a difference if we really wish to move forward. A true Irish league is the only way forward. We have almost as many people as Scotland.

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  • 21. At 1:22pm on 29 Oct 2009, Buckfast-Wine wrote:

    If derry did return to the IL which to be honest i cant see, Who would be the bigger match... Linfield V Glentoran or Linfield V Derry city??

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  • 22. At 6:07pm on 29 Oct 2009, windsor15percent wrote:

    This is a 'dead parrot' as Derry would never be allowed in the Irish League with their finanical history. As regards the 'Big Two', well thats says it all. Derry can't get enough fans throught he turnstiles and security concerns at the Brandywell would limit the Linfield and Glens travelling support. Derry are a club in terminal decline.
    No other league fixture in the Republic can match the 10,000 that turn up for the Boxing Day 'Big Two' clash in Belfast.

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  • 23. At 10:08pm on 29 Oct 2009, richAnfield1 wrote:

    If all the money people north and south of Ireland spend going to Anfield, Old Trafford, Celtic Park, Ibrox and the Emirates was actually spent supporting our own teams and helping them improve their stadiums and facilties then we'd have an All-Island league which would see our teams at least get into the Champions League group stages every so often. Shamrock Rovers or Linfield in the Champions League is possible if they were given the support they deserve by the people in Dublin and Belfast.

    Money talks; we could attract players from around the world if the clubs had money. Not top class players like in the Premiership, but 2nd rate Brazilians and South Americans who would be better than your average local player.

    The fault isn't with the clubs; it's with the fan culture north and south in Ireland which is obsessed with football in Britain - and putting all our money into English or Scottish clubs while our own stadiums and facilites are 3rd world standard.

    When you see Romanian teams etc. in the Champions League you have to be embarrassed about the standard of football on this island.

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  • 24. At 11:02pm on 29 Oct 2009, windsor15percent wrote:

    The fan culture in Ireland is no different from the rest of the world when it comes to the EPL. Over a hundred countries take the live feed when the SKY 4 play. It just so happens that Ireland is a short hop by air from Anfield, Ibrox, Stamford Bridge, Goodison Park, Old Trafford etc. Lets put this in perspective. I doubt if there are more than 10,000 fans travel to Scotland and England on any given Saturday from Ireland.

    Can you name me any country with a similair population size to Ireland that has a decent league? The Russian League is pretty pants with many Brazilians and foreign coaches, yet a Russian club has never come close to winning the Champions League. The population of Russia is ....

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  • 25. At 00:26am on 30 Oct 2009, richAnfield1 wrote:

    10,000 fans maybe, Windsor, but look at the replica jerseys etc.. and all the money spent on merchandising. Any sports shop in Dublin or Belfast has more than just Liverpool or Man U jerseys. They are full of club merchandise that obviously sells. Liverpool had plans to open an official club shop in Dublin before the recession, which shows the fanbase across the island for the club, and Manure are probably as popular. They make a lot more money here than they do in Scotland - because we have such a joke standard of local clubs.

    I'm not saying clubs in Ireland can ever expect to compete with the EPL, - they obviously can't - but even if Shamrock Rovers and Linfield had stadiums like Hibs and Hearts it would be a great improvement. Dublin and Belfast hold international football matches and attract great crowds. The same football loving public would fill 40,000 - 50,000 stadiums if Shamrock Rovers or Linfield made the Champions League like Celtic and Rangers often do and had proper stadiums for the fans. If Scotland can achieve it, why can't teams here at least reach Champions League level?

    Lack of support from the local public is why.

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  • 26. At 00:46am on 30 Oct 2009, Lee wrote:

    Candystripe, that is, without question, the best piece on a HYS I've ever read. Thought provoking, intelligent, and a damning verdict of the IFA of the time.

    Incidentally, to Windsor15%; you asked "How much longer should the rate payers of Londonderry have to partly fund this club?" I dunno, maybe just as long as the IFA subsidses yours? It's amazing you can ask a question like that, when your name just shouts nest feathering. It's no coincidence I'm sure that Harry Cavan was president of the IFA when that ridiculous 100yr noose, or rather, lease was signed, which so helps Linfield out.

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  • 27. At 09:03am on 30 Oct 2009, adib1s1 wrote:

    Here, here! Think you have a bit of a cheek asking that too when it's fans across Northern Ireland that fund your club. Windsor15% you may not get 10,000 at any one LoI game, but attendances on average are substantially higher in the south. Also, you certainly don't get half as much violence at LoI games as you do in the Irish League.

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  • 28. At 7:26pm on 30 Oct 2009, windsor15percent wrote:

    In answer to the points above...

    The EPL is a fantastic brand that sells and sells. Why would Irish fans simply ignore what is a very compelling sales pitch. Linfield have a stadium that holds 14,000 yet our crowds are around the 1,500 mark for a league game. As for away fans to Windsor I have on a few occassions been able to count 50 away fans. When Linfield play at away grounds we nearly always outnuber the home fans. The only ground where we are always outnumbered is Cliftonville. This due to the draconian security measures in place to prevent sectarian attacks on Linfield fans. And of course this fixture has featured as the SKY live game for the last three seasons.
    The Irish League is part-time and the standard of football reflects this.

    Just look at the disaster that is the full-time Eircom League. It is reported that amongst all of their debts, Derry owe their players £200,000. And don't even mention the finanical circus that Cork has become!

    The rate payers of Londonderry are not being asked if they wish for example to have £2,000 of their already streched funds diverted to Derry City to set up a hospitality tent to ply drink and sarnies on the officals of a visting european team. The IFA is a registered company with a business agreement with Linfield. No public funds are used in this agreement. Harry Cavan was chairman of Ards FC when this contract was drawn up. All Irish League clubs would have been aware of the impending contract but as they failed to develop their stadiums to hold international football, there was only ever going to be one outcome.
    The FAI plough money into Eircom clubs especially those that are involved in europe. The IFA contract is a business agreement for services provided ie use of a stadium for the staging of international football games. Just as FAI have paid to Croke Park, RDS, Thormond Park and Landsdowme Road for years.

    To now try portray Derry City as some down trodden club is misleading. They have got into this sorry state after falling into the trap that has befallen Cork. Trying to match the bigger Dublin clubs with unrealistic and unsustainable players contracts. The Derry club owe the players £200,000 or eight weeks wages. This after slashing the pay by 75%! Derry also went bust in the early 90s. Their limited fan base, local business and Derry Council have not been able to bail them out.

    As regards LOI/IL attendences are hard to calculate as the offical numbers are never given. Certainly our stadiums are better and I would argue attendences in the Irish League are perhaps higher. I only base this on what I see on MNS so I may well be wrong. As regards violence well I don't know how you would be able to state that there is less in Eircom. Could be as a welcome plus to lower attendences?

    As regards matching Celtic and Rangers. Please get real. Not even some EPL teams can match their fan base and stadiums. Unrealistic.

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  • 29. At 6:45pm on 31 Oct 2009, windsor15percent wrote:

    Read today that Derry City still owe Linfield 5k for tickets sold for Sentanta fixture. Is there any club in the Irish League that these people have not ripped off!

    Time for these charlatans to face the music and disappear to the lower leagues in ROI.

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  • 30. At 8:14pm on 01 Nov 2009, loyalredarmy wrote:

    Typical Linfield always thinking they're better than everyone else. Derry are welcome back anytime they should never have been discriminated against by the IFA in the first place. IFA = Linfield FC always has and always will

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  • 31. At 8:37pm on 01 Nov 2009, windsor15percent wrote:


    Not welcome as long as they continue to owe Irish League clubs and their own players money. I suppose its now the turn of the FAI to 'discriminate' against Derry.
    Glad to see that you agree with the IFA contract with Linfield and are hoping it 'always will be' in place. How refreshing!

    PS if you are Cliftonville fan, good luck in getting the money Derry owe your club from the Celtic debacle. Back of the line please!

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  • 32. At 11:40am on 03 Nov 2009, FRANK SPENCER wrote:

    And now they owe Dungannon £30,000 ! Think they will be on deal or no deal soon.

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  • 33. At 08:47am on 11 Nov 2009, SusieFlood wrote:



    When are we going to have an investigation into the murky century-long contract for the use of Windsor Park for international matches, which was signed in 1984 between Harry Cavan & Linfield FC?


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  • 34. At 6:10pm on 21 Nov 2009, SusieFlood wrote:


    I wish to report the passing of Joel Taggart-Blog, presumed lost in a fog of laziness, inertia and general layabout inactivity. Joel had been missing since 29 October, 2009, the last day he deigned to blog to the sports fraternity.

    Friends were not surprised at his demise. In recent years, Joel had become ever more increasingly obsessed with enhancing his public profile, whether it was scrimmaging for the crumbs offered by standing in for the Porkmeister Nolan or just being plain stupid by thinking his platitudinous observations on local football matches represented insightful commentary.

    Joel's career was one of under-achievement in which he rose (for a time) but without any noticeable trace. He had been given a final opportunity to redeem himself by making a mark with the BBC's Sport Blog (NI). Themes for the Blog were there for the taking: Glentoran in disarray, Derry City in financial meltdown and Ireland cheated out of World Cup qualification. Sadly, he blew it by not blogging on any of these key issues. He will be sadly missed by the cliché-addicted Mangers of local football clubs, notably Linfield & Glentoran, to whom he paid slavering, salivating homage at every opportunity. There will be few tears shed elsewhere.

    It is with some regret that we say goodbye to a failed Blogger whose career would have been better and more successfully spent had he been employed by rival sports channels that don't have the BBC's high standards.

    RIP, Joel, RIP. You didn't give two hoots and nor do the local sporting public!


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