Friday 9 December 2016

FAI urged to boost LOI prize money and revamp format

John Fallon

Published 29/09/2015 | 02:30

Clubs who have seen their prize pot slashed by 80pc in recent years will welcome Conroy's suggestion of increasing the fund, albeit the change in the 2016 season is described as
Clubs who have seen their prize pot slashed by 80pc in recent years will welcome Conroy's suggestion of increasing the fund, albeit the change in the 2016 season is described as "incremental".

The new League of Ireland strategic report, unveiled last night, has urged the FAI to boost prize money if the domestic product is to survive and thrive.

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All 20 clubs attended a two-hour briefing at the FAI headquarters in Abbotstown, where consultant Declan Conroy delivered the outcomes from his six months of interviewing the various participants inside and on the fringes of the league.

The 75-page document outlines a range of recommendations starting from next year's 2016 campaign up to the 2020 season.

Clubs who have seen their prize pot slashed by 80pc in recent years will welcome Conroy's suggestion of increasing the fund, albeit the change in the 2016 season is described as "incremental".

However, for clubs like Shamrock Rovers and Dundalk disgruntled by the lack of compensation for having their games televised and the resultant dip in attendances, there is little by way of immediate respite.

"Clubs do acknowledge that televised matches do add to the club's ability to leverage their agreements with existing and potential new sponsors for incremental revenues," reads an excerpt from the report.

Exploiting

Conroy states that any future additional TV rights revenues achieved by exploiting new markets outside the limitations of the current TV contracts should be allocated to clubs.

From a structural perspective, the creation of two divisions with 10 teams each from the 2017 season is sure to provoke debate, as the top-tier cohort will be reduced in size by one sixth.

In another change, a split along similar lines to the SPL is to occur after 27 games between the top six and bottom four teams, with a two-leg play-off proposed to decide the last remaining Europa League qualification place.

Much of the report is devoted to marketing ideas by attempting to rid the national league of the negative stigma long attached to it.

Dedicated marketing and media personnel for the league, a structure the FAI operated to in a previous era, are called for while the appointment of club ambassadors - current or former internationals - is floated.

The FAI are due to issue a statement on the blueprint today but the thrust of it seems to be lag far behind the 2005 Genesis report in terms of its substance.

"Transformation is required to change structure, management, performance and behaviour - all four vital ingredients of any process of change," opined the Scottish management consultants a decade ago. "What is needed is a "whole new ball game".

This latest attempt ensures the long wait continues.

Irish Independent

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