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Fenlon: Prize money gives Euro clubs advantage

SHAMROCK Rovers manager Pat Fenlon believes League of Ireland clubs are facing an "uphill battle" when they take on European opposition because of the lack of money in the Irish game.

Fenlon turns his attentions back to domestic matters at home to Limerick tomorrow after the Hoops' Europa League exit to Norwegian side Odds BK on Thursday night.

A 2-1 loss at the splendid Skagerak Arena in Skien last night merely confirmed it as the Norwegian side went through on a 4-1 aggregate to meet Elfsborg of Sweden in the third qualifying round.

Ultimately, given the staggering contrast in budgets and prize money in their respective leagues, it's little wonder Odds BK came out on top. The Norwegian Tippeligaen winners receive €2 million in prize money, mainly from a TV deal worth €200 million over four years. The League of Ireland champions get a paltry €100,000.

Odds BK, whose 12,500-seat Skagerak Arena cost approximately €23m, has an annual turnover of around €10 million compared to Rovers' €1.4 million. While it's disappointing, when you compare like to like we're fighting an uphill battle. There is no comparison," added Fenlon.

"The big gain for us was obviously getting through the first round to get some money into the club. You want to try to improve, and keep on improving.

"But when you see what's available here, you scratch your head sometimes, you really do."

Making sure Rovers qualify for Europe again next year now begins in earnest with the visit of Limerick. "That's what it's about. The prize money at stake in Europe is huge compared to what we get in our league," said Fenlon.