Tuesday 20 August 2019

Twitter meltdown as latest FAI attempt to revive 'cool' League of Ireland met with ridicule

John Delaney, FAI Chief Executive, in attendence during the SSE Airtricity League Brand Review at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
John Delaney, FAI Chief Executive, in attendence during the SSE Airtricity League Brand Review at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
A general view of the screen during the SSE Airtricity League Brand Review at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Jonathan Gabay, International Branding Expert, speaking during the SSE Airtricity League Brand Review at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Jonathan Gabay, International Branding Expert, speaking during the SSE Airtricity League Brand Review at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Jonathan Gabay, International Branding Expert, speaking during the SSE Airtricity League Brand Review at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

John Fallon

Twitter went into meltdown as the latest marketing attempt to revive the ailing League of Ireland’s profile was met with a combination of ridicule and laughter by fans around the country.

Brand expert Jonathan Gabay was tasked by the Football Association of Ireland with presenting a report including his findings on how the game can be better advertised, marketed and branded.

The Englishman detailed the results of his project, which began in August, and touched upon the many controversies engulfing the domestic product, including the €5,000 strategic grant for clubs, use of flares and criticism from fans of the FAI’s administration.

 

Gabay produced some interesting and peculiar prose in delivering his report.

Within the opening few minutes, he opined that John Delaney – the FAI CEO who infamously branded the league a “difficult child” for the association – has done an “amazing job” for the League.

Referring to the untapped market ready-made to address the measly attendance most clubs get at home games, he was eager to stress that the league “is not that bleak”.

And, later during his presentation, he suggested that the League of Ireland was “cool” to follow.

 

It was enough to have League of Ireland club in attendance at the event chattering in hushed tones, never alone the dedicated fan following events on social media.

A penny for the thoughts, too, of main sponsors SSE Airtricity.

The league’s biggest commercial supporter could hardly have been endeared by the recommendation to move their name to the end of the title, thereby naming the league: “The League of Ireland, sponsored by SSE Airtricity.

Of the many corkers in his report, Gabay espouses this classic:

“Attending the FAI Cup final, I witnessed flares being thrown onto the pitch by hardcore fans – at one point almost setting fire to the goal netting. The tribes also chanted abuse criticising the FAI.

“Given that the FAI – in all its broader aspects – from national administrators to associated volunteers – are in fact the League of Ireland’s greatest supporters, and that the brazen chants were yelled in front of leading public dignitaries attending the game, as an outsider, despite the football play on the pitch, the entire experience left the impression that the brand as a whole lacked solidity and pride.”

The FAI, for their part, say that no elements of the report have been ratified as association policy. Like most things in the League of Ireland, we wait with bated breath.

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