The Burning Question – ‘League Of Ireland Day’, could it work?

The general consensus is that League of Ireland football is in a completely different world to its English counterpart. The multi-millionaires playing in front of 40,000 people per week is in complete contrast to semi-professionals and amateurs playing in the Brandywell or the Carlisle Grounds on a Friday evening in front of small but passionate crowds. But, as you drop down the leagues in the UK, clubs from League 1 down face the same problems. Many people would rather sit on their sofas than attend a game of football and it is having a huge negative effect on the grassroots of the game.

Non League day has been a huge success in England. Could it be a success in Ireland?

To combat this, Non League Day was formed 2 years ago to breathe life into the terraces of lower league football in England. This year’s edition takes place the weekend of October 13th. It is based around an international break, so the people who would usually go to watch a Premier League/Championship game or who would be an armchair fan would be able to go to a football match at a discounted rate, and the aim is that hopefully they will come back. Even though it is in its early stages, it has been considered a huge success.

So, is it time for the FAI to buck the trend and do something worthwhile in regards to their national league or should the clubs themselves take this on?

It is clear that something needs to be done. Attendances are not what they once were. For instance, Bohemians once used to get an average of over 2,000 spectators each game 4 years ago. The average attendance for this season is less than 1500 and they struggle to get 2000 when Shamrock Rovers come to town. It’s not just Bohs who suffer, either, other clubs in the league are suffering, most notably, UCD get on average of roughly 500 every home game.

Bohemians once got good crowds into Dalymount Park, now they struggle to get 1000.

So what incentives can be offered? Various clubs in England have offered incentives like ‘Kids Go Free with adults’ and ‘Kids for a quid up to an hour before kick off’ which seem to entice most fans into going to matches.

Some clubs have even offered free tickets to people who are dressed as pirates and one club has even offered tickets to fans that have retweeted their tweets on twitter.

However, the most innovative scheme seems to be the one that Aveley and Romford have set up jointly. Both clubs are close to one another and both have teamed up to offer fans a chance to buy a joint ticket so that they can go to watch both teams on the same day.

You may ask how this would work in the League of Ireland, but, it could easily be implemented. Shelbourne and Bohemians are located a mere 20 minute walk from each other in North Dublin and have played at home on the same day before this season. If a ‘League of Ireland day’ was introduced there is no reason why the two clubs could come together and introduce this.

Shamrock Rovers and St Patrick’s Athletic are both on the Luas Red line and punters could travel between Richmond Park and Tallaght stadium so there is also potential there for something to happen.

It is quite clear that something needs to be done. Fans forums have been set up over the coming weeks (Click here to find your nearest meeting) to mainly tackle problems such as this. League of Ireland football is suffering. A lot more things need to be done than just a promotional day for the league, but it would be a start.

Follow me on Twitter – Robbie_OR


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