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Highlights on Off The Ball

Irish fans have forgotten how to follow the live football experience

Chief Operating Officer of Bohemian FC Daniel Lambert has urged football fans to seize on the cur...

Irish fans have forgotten how...

Irish fans have forgotten how to follow the live football experience

Chief Operating Officer of Bohemian FC Daniel Lambert has urged football fans to seize on the current moment and drive the sport in a new and better direction - no more so than within our own League of Ireland. 

A few hours after the hastily built Super League had been exposed and 12 of Europe's leading clubs began to make their apologies, Daniel Lambert was worried.

"This should be a tipping-point that forces people to analyse what football is about and bring it to a better place," he explained on Wednesday's OTB AM, "[but] I fear though that the status quo we had last week is going to be accepted as some sort of utopia."

Indeed, while the Super League's collapse has been a triumph for those who value the sport's competitive and cultural integrity, it did not exactly emerge from nowhere.

With a number of elite European clubs already operating in a financial realm that eclipses what the majority of clubs could ever hope to reach, the Bohs C.O.O. is not convinced that football fans will now look to overhaul this system entirely.

"Look at the list of owners in the Premier League," he noted. "These are people who for the most part are... morally bankrupt and I don't think they can ever understand the emotion, the value, the connections that people have with football clubs.

"These owners view these clubs solely as business, make no mistake about that. Normally, the people who own these clubs are also involved in the wholesale theft of resources from countries, extracting industries that are destroying the planet.

"Extracting maximum profit and shareholder value is their only aim here, they view these as items on balance sheets. It goes against the very essence of sport and the places these clubs have come from are so far from the minds of these people."

From a domestic point of view then, it stands to reason that the Premier League's struggle for authenticity could provide an opportunity for the League of Ireland.

"It an opportunity if people start questioning their allegiance to Manchester United or Liverpool," he admitted, English clubs providing a significant draw for Irish football fans.

Beyond simply hoping that such fans may turn their attention toward the League of Ireland, however, Lambert highlighted why the distinction between those who exclusively support foreign football and those who take an active interest in the domestic game is not easily surmountable.

"We've lost several generations of people in Ireland to the live game, the live football experience," he stated. "The majority of football fans in the country consume football now rather than be a part of it.

"They're very different things because to consume football through the TV or from a distance as some kind of soap opera is an entirely different experience - and to me a lesser experience - than going to a game locally and engaging with the people in your area."

Lambert addressed how social changes in Ireland - housing, work, religious faith - have also contributed to a growing transience among young people that makes the bonds with a football club harder to forge.

You can watch back Daniel Lambert and former League of Ireland player Stuart Byrne on Wednesday's OTB AM on OTB's YouTube channel here

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Bohemian FC Bohemians Daniel Lambert League Of Ireland Premier League Super League