What can be done to improve the League of Ireland?

The Saturday Panel explored options to better the domestic game

BY Simon Maguire 20:46 Sunday 26 November 2017, 20:46 26 Nov 2017

Stuart Byrne, Shane Keegan and Daniel Lambert were the guests on Off the Ball for The Saturday Panel as they delved into the current state of the League of Ireland.

Once described as the FAI's "problem child", the domestic league has come into the spotlight with the recent exploits of Dundalk in the Europa League and the high standard played by both the Lillywhites and Cork City last season.

However, the league often appears in a stagnant state with clubs struggling financially and players often leaving for England at the end of their contracts with the clubs receiving little to no compensation. 

Daniel Lambert, the Strategic Planning Manager at Bohemians, explained how clubs need to take more responsibility themselves instead of expecting the FAI to do it all.

"The marketing in the Premier League is [a] model and a beast that you're just no going to tackle and I think the mistake is being made too often - and the FAI can do more and should do more - but too often the blame is placed at the hands of the FAI. 'The FAI should do this or do that' and as I said there are things that they should do but the clubs have to look at themselves.

"We have, over the last few years, totally changed our approach in terms of trying to get people to games and what we offer at games.

"What the club is about as a club rather than a team that play in the Airtricity League and I think that when young people come to a game, there's no point in trying to tackle the Premier League head-on because you just won't offer the glamour, the non-stop coverage that they offer but there are things that the clubs can focus in on and begin to get people involved.

"And, I think the biggest mistake the clubs have made is that they've isolated themselves. They've basically been about one team. They've neglected underage systems predominantly, women's teams - they've neglected being about a broader club rather than just about the team and they haven't made themselves relevant to the areas that they're in and that's what GAA and rugby do - they make themselves relevant," he added. 

The full discussion can be heard here:

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