Wednesday 7 December 2016

Shamrock Rovers ask RTÉ to stay away from Tallaght to boost crowds

Published 10/09/2015 | 02:30

Shamrock Rovers manager Pat Fenlon
Shamrock Rovers manager Pat Fenlon

Shamrock Rovers have written to RTÉ to inform the national broadcaster that they would prefer if they didn't show any of their remaining home games for the rest of this season because they feel live coverage is costing them thousands of euro.

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Rovers have taken the action after studying the impact of the TV cameras on attendances, especially the dates which involved a switch to a 7.05pm kick-off which is unpopular with supporters making the trip out to Tallaght Stadium through rush hour traffic.

The Hoops hierarchy believe that the loss of ticket revenue for each live match is in the region of €10,000, with regular attendees opting to watch at home instead.

League of Ireland members do not receive compensation when their games are picked for TV exposure, a situation which is a major source of frustration amongst the leading outfits who are generally under the spotlight.

Clubs do not have the authority to say no when they are given notice that one of their home fixtures has been selected, although there have been occasions where officials have tried to fight their case.

However, Rovers decided to contact RTÉ to outline the difficulties which they believe are being caused by the live games. They hope that the decision-makers in Montrose will look elsewhere for the rest of this term.

League leaders Dundalk are due to visit Tallaght on October 9 for a match that could prove significant as they close in on the title.

It's understood that officials with other Premier Division sides are supportive of the Rovers stance.

Last August, RTÉ and the FAI announced a deal to show 78 live SSE Airtricity Premier Division and FAI Cup games from that point until November 2018.

Speaking at the time of the announcement, FAI CEO John Delaney said: "Television exposure is important for the development and promotion of the game and helps the association continue the work it does across all strands of the game in every part of Ireland."

Last night, the FAI reiterated that message to the Irish Independent.

"Live televised League of Ireland matches make the League attractive to sponsors such as SSE Airtricity and EA SPORTS," said an FAI spokesman.

"The TV coverage is also helpful to clubs when they are negotiating their own sponsorship deals and selling pitchside advertising.

"The TV deal announced in August 2014 was part of an overall television agreement which includes men's and women's senior and underage internationals, as well as men's and women's domestic matches. This will continue to deliver tangible and intangible benefits to the League."

The FAI statement added that five league clubs recorded their biggest attendances of 2015 for live TV matches, and say this is evidence it can have a positive impact.

But the domestic clubs believe lower profile matches take a huge hit and argue they should be paid when their game is shown - a practice that is standard around the football world - as recognition of the fact that their product is delivering two hours of television content.

Dundalk's FAI Cup quarter-final with Sligo Rovers will be shown on RTÉ tomorrow night and the league champions are fearing a fall in attendance in line with Cork's dramatic drop for the visit of St Patrick's Athletic in the last round.

Irish Independent

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