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Thread: Irish League clubs in Europe?

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    First Team JC_GUFC's Avatar
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    Irish League clubs in Europe?

    There's always talk of losing European spots if there was an All-Ireland League but the Irish League clubs results in Europe are nothing short of an embarrassment.

    On top of that there are countless stories of players being unavailable due to being on holiday etc.

    There can be no doubt that Distillery will lose money on this tie against some team from Georgia I've never heard of - they're already 4-0 down at the break.

    Just going on the results of the non big 2 Irish league clubs in recent seasons I don't think it would matter if the Irish League lost a place.

    08-09
    Cliftonville v FC Copenhagen - 0-11 aggregate

    07-08
    Dungannon v Suduva - 1-4 aggregate (won home leg)

    06-07
    Portadown v Kaunas - 1-4 aggregate

    05-06
    Portadown v Viking - 1-3 aggregate

    04-05
    Portadown v Zalgiris - 2-4 aggregate (drew home leg)

    03-04
    Portadown v Malmo - 0-6 aggregate

    I'm just focusing on these results because this is the place that the Irish League would be losing but with clubs not interested why would they care??
    I phoned the speaking clock to hear a voice speak, it said - "At the tone you will be very much alone"

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    Quote Originally Posted by JC_GUFC View Post
    There's always talk of losing European spots if there was an All-Ireland League but the Irish League clubs results in Europe are nothing short of an embarrassment.

    On top of that there are countless stories of players being unavailable due to being on holiday etc.

    There can be no doubt that Distillery will lose money on this tie against some team from Georgia I've never heard of - they're already 4-0 down at the break.

    Just going on the results of the non big 2 Irish league clubs in recent seasons I don't think it would matter if the Irish League lost a place.

    I'm just focusing on these results because this is the place that the Irish League would be losing but with clubs not interested why would they care??
    Tonight was bad for Distillery, Cliftonville got gubbed in Denmark and your points about weak squads in the holiday month and losing money are fair enough. But for a team that hasn't played in Europe for 12 years it would matter, actually. Otherwise why enter?

    The Irish League are unlikely to lose a place unless all the other minnows with their own leagues do too.

    There isn't going to be an all-Ireland league in the foreseeable future.

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    Seasoned Pro ifk101's Avatar
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    Copenhagen are 11 goals better than Cliftonville and tbh all of the LOI clubs would be looking to keep the score down against them. I don't think the other results that you highlight are that bad JC_GUFC as all of those games were against teams in mid-season.

    As for Distillery; they had 5 players on holiday for last night's game and that should be unacceptable but apparently this isn't the case.

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    I was surprised when I heard that, about the players on holiday. You would think that managers would start demanding their key players turn up for these games, especially since when they don't and you get results like this it reflects badly on the whole Irish league, which in turn is going to put people off watching it. They're disadvantaged enough by being a winter season system as it is without having a bunch of voluntary dropouts.

    IMO managers should build clauses into contracts that their players have to turn up in these games. It would undoubtedly improve the showing of those clubs.
    "Life is like a hair on a toilet seat. Sooner or later you are bound to get pi$$ed off."

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    Youth Team AnnaghRed's Avatar
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    The prestige is in qualifying, at least it was in the days when you could realistically draw the likes of FC Porto, Marseille et al, and have a couple of competitive domestic games under your belt before the european games.

    Personally, i'd rather suffer the ignominy of defeats at home to the likes of Zestafoni than move to summer football.

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    First Team EalingGreen's Avatar
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    I agree that IL results in Europe have been embarrassing in recent years, but there are two ways of looking at them (imo).

    Either the clubs show a distinct lack of ambition, on the basis that since the European competitions were radically overhauled (3 competitions reduced to 2, with seeding and qualifying stages and prelim games played much earlier in the year etc), IL clubs no longer take Europe seriously. A clear indication of this is allowing players to go on holiday in July.

    Or they are simply being realistic. That is, with a basically part-time set-up and a Winter season, there is no way that clubs may sustain what is almost a 12 month season (i.e. regular season ends in May, new season starts in July, with a need for at least some pre-season training in between).

    By contrast, with a much more nearly full-time set-up and a Summer season, the LOI should be far better placed to compete in Europe (at least in the early stages). Indeed, from what I gather, the incentive of European prize money etc to an extent led the move to Summer football and f-t status, rather than the other way round.

    Do LOI supporters consider this strategy to have been successful? I'd guess Derry City fans would say so, for instance.

    Or has this attempt to "chase the (European) dream" merely added to the financial difficulties which a number of clubs are presently facing, almost like a mini-version of Leeds United, whose entire finances were based upon always qualifying for the Champions League?

    Anyhow, with NI having a smaller population and (at least formerly!) a weaker economy, plus virtually no Government investment in football and 30 years of civil unrest etc, I have to say that insofar that it was a conscious policy decision*, the present approach by IL clubs of cutting their (financial) cloth to compete domestically on a part-time basis etc, was probably a sensible one.

    If nothing else, we have managed to come through a period of serious long-term decline in standards/crowds/finances/facilities etc, with surprisingly few 'casualties' amongst our senior clubs (Omagh Town and Castlereagh Park being the major ones?)


    * - OK, it probably wasn't!

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    First Team Gather round's Avatar
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    Good analysis EG. I doubt there's much enthusiasm to move to a summer season like the LoI, so maybe the best we can hope for is an occasional battling draw.

    Failing to take the UEFA/ Europa Cup seriously isn't confined to the bottom of the food chain, of course. Call the witnesses O'Neill and Redknapp...

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    Seasoned Pro ifk101's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EalingGreen View Post
    I agree that IL results in Europe have been embarrassing in recent years
    Define "recent".

    Quote Originally Posted by EalingGreen View Post
    Either the clubs show a distinct lack of ambition, on the basis that since the European competitions were radically overhauled (3 competitions reduced to 2, with seeding and qualifying stages and prelim games played much earlier in the year etc), IL clubs no longer take Europe seriously. A clear indication of this is allowing players to go on holiday in July.
    Ah yes - the removal of the glamour tie moan. Instead of trying to win a tie and earn their glamour tie, IL players would much prefer to lie on the beach.

    Quote Originally Posted by EalingGreen View Post
    Or they are simply being realistic. That is, with a basically part-time set-up and a Winter season, there is no way that clubs may sustain what is almost a 12 month season (i.e. regular season ends in May, new season starts in July, with a need for at least some pre-season training in between).
    Well IL clubs have suffered hammerings year on year and haven't tried to improve their lot. Realistic isn't the word I'd used here but then again obviously the standard of the IL is very low.

    Quote Originally Posted by EalingGreen View Post
    Or has this attempt to "chase the (European) dream" merely added to the financial difficulties which a number of clubs are presently facing, almost like a mini-version of Leeds United, whose entire finances were based upon always qualifying for the Champions League?
    It doesn't matter if it's 1992, 2009 or 2030, there'll always be a LOI club in financial trouble. And I'm sure if we scratch the surface a little, there're plenty of IL clubs in financial bother. Surely as a Glentoran fan you are well aware of this.

    Quote Originally Posted by EalingGreen View Post
    Anyhow, with NI having a smaller population and (at least formerly!) a weaker economy, plus virtually no Government investment in football and 30 years of civil unrest etc, I have to say that insofar that it was a conscious policy decision*, the present approach by IL clubs of cutting their (financial) cloth to compete domestically on a part-time basis etc, was probably a sensible one.

    If nothing else, we have managed to come through a period of serious long-term decline in standards/crowds/finances/facilities etc, with surprisingly few 'casualties' amongst our senior clubs (Omagh Town and Castlereagh Park being the major ones?)
    All irrelevant of course.

    If the IL wanted to improve its results and performance in Europe, but doesn't want to go the summer season route, why not introduce a compromise solution similar to what the Danish and Austrian leagues do - ie a Winter break with a shortened Summer break? IL clubs don't need to go full-time to improve - they just need to get their players' arses off the beach/ out of the pub.

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    Originally Posted by EalingGreen:
    "I agree that IL results in Europe have been embarrassing in recent years"
    Quote Originally Posted by ifk101 View Post
    Define "recent".
    I'd say they have been "embarrassing" for a good 10 years, and "very poor" for 10 years before that. However, IL clubs have been competing in Europe for nearly 50 years now, and for the early part of that time, performances and results were reasonably good, better eg than those of comparable Leagues such as the LOI.
    I'd say the decline of IL clubs in Europe followed the decline in IL standards generally (i.e. 25-30 years ago), and was exacerbated by the changes to the competition formats etc instigated by UEFA in more recent years.

    Quote Originally Posted by ifk101 View Post
    Ah yes - the removal of the glamour tie moan. Instead of trying to win a tie and earn their glamour tie, IL players would much prefer to lie on the beach.
    Unrealistic. The IL season ends in May, with the most meaningful games towards the end of the season (obviously). The European season starts in early July. The vast majority of IL players are part-timers, with family and f-t career inevitably a greater priority.
    When are they and their family going to take their main holiday of the year - bearing in mind school holidays, plus the "Twelfth Fortnight" when many employers in NI traditionally scale down their operation (or even close entirely)?
    Remember, to prepare seriously for European games at the start of July would mean playing/training throughout June, thereby leaving NO time for an off-season break.
    Quite frankly, for IL clubs to hope to compete in Europe would require 3 things:
    1. A radical restructuring of their domestic League;
    2. A move to Summer football;
    3. (Likely) A move to f-t status for the leading clubs.
    And even if the first two were possible/desirable, the third could not be sustained, given their present circumstances (imo).
    Therefore, they would risk "throwing the baby out with the bathwater" to even try, I'd say.

    Quote Originally Posted by ifk101 View Post
    Well IL clubs have suffered hammerings year on year and haven't tried to improve their lot. Realistic isn't the word I'd used here but then again obviously the standard of the IL is very low.
    The IL is a very low standard - no-one is denying that. This is the result of a decline which has occurred over two to three decades (at least). Of course, some of the reasons behind that decline are/should have been avoidable (eg v.poor leadership and administration etc), but many more are/were not (eg the rise of the EPL and Sky TV etc, 30 years of domestic conflict).
    In any case, if that decline is going to be halted, then reversed, then the IL needs to "walk before it can run".
    There are already some small signs for hope eg stadium improvements, a small increase in crowds this season, better organisation by the IFA etc. Plus, of course, the further we move away from "The Troubles", the greater the grounds for optimism.
    But if you imagine that the IL is now ready to address the European challenge, then it is you who is being utterly unrealistic, not me.
    Of course, if we were still having debate in another 10-15 years, then I'd be v.disappointed. But at the moment, I'm just glad that the IL and its senior clubs have been able to survive this last 25 years in some sort of recognisable shape.

    Quote Originally Posted by ifk101 View Post
    It doesn't matter if it's 1992, 2009 or 2030, there'll always be a LOI club in financial trouble.
    Fine. It's not for me to defend, condone or condemn such a situation. I am concerned with the situation of the League in which my club plays.

    Quote Originally Posted by ifk101 View Post
    And I'm sure if we scratch the surface a little, there're plenty of IL clubs in financial bother. Surely as a Glentoran fan you are well aware of this.
    Indeed.
    But imo, it is precisely because plenty of our clubs are in financial difficulties that it is imperative that we do not get "ahead of ourselves". For had we done so, I've no doubt that many even of our leading clubs would by now be extinct. And extinction is forever (unless you're a fan of Cork football, it would seem! ).
    Remember (and this is not "special pleading"), with a population of under 2 million, a weak economy, volatile politics, a strong local GAA, little or no Government support and the counter-attractions of the EPL and SPL etc etc. football in NI has been existing much "closer to the edge", with correspondingly far less margin for error, than eg their counterparts South of the border.
    [Btw, the loss of the major club from our 2nd city, for whatever reasons, was a major blow to domestic football in NI. Or do you not think the LOI would notice if, hypothetically of course, Derry City were to return to the IL?]

    Quote Originally Posted by ifk101 View Post
    All irrelevant of course.
    What? Because you say so? I've never claimed that there is nothing which could be done to improve the lot of IL football - there clearly is plenty.
    But neither do I believe in pretending serious problems don't exist, either. We all have to live in the real world and "cut our cloth" accordingly.

    Quote Originally Posted by ifk101 View Post
    If the IL wanted to improve its results and performance in Europe, but doesn't want to go the summer season route, why not introduce a compromise solution similar to what the Danish and Austrian leagues do - ie a Winter break with a shortened Summer break? IL clubs don't need to go full-time to improve - they just need to get their players' arses off the beach/ out of the pub.
    I daresay IL clubs would like to improve their results in Europe. It's just that considering everything else which needs to be done, they don't see it as a major priority.
    As someone who was first attracted to IL football by an outstanding performance by the Glens against the mighty Juventus in the European Cup in 1977, I would love to see a return to those days.
    But I'd like to see our "bread and butter" issues sorted before we start thinking of a nice "cake" (with icing and a cherry on top)!
    Last edited by EalingGreen; 06/07/2009 at 12:39 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EalingGreen View Post
    Remember, to prepare seriously for European games at the start of July would mean playing/training throughout June, thereby leaving NO time for an off-season break.
    Quite frankly, for IL clubs to hope to compete in Europe would require 3 things:
    1. A radical restructuring of their domestic League;
    2. A move to Summer football;
    3. (Likely) A move to f-t status for the leading clubs.
    And even if the first two were possible/desirable, the third could not be sustained, given their present circumstances (imo).
    Therefore, they would risk "throwing the baby out with the bathwater" to even try, I'd say.
    It depends on how you define "compete". If we're talking competitive if the first round of European competition - nothing revolutionary needs to take place. It's simply a case of time management.

    Quote Originally Posted by EalingGreen View Post
    Fine. It's not for me to defend, condone or condemn such a situation. I am concerned with the situation of the League in which my club plays.
    And then the question follows why did you bring it up in the first place?


    Quote Originally Posted by EalingGreen View Post
    [Btw, the loss of the major club from our 2nd city, for whatever reasons, was a major blow to domestic football in NI. Or do you not think the LOI would notice if, hypothetically of course, Derry City were to return to the IL?]
    Yes of course the LOI would notice the loss of a club like Derry. They are an integral and welcomed club in the league.

    Quote Originally Posted by EalingGreen View Post
    What? Because you say so?
    What you wrote was off-topic and irrelevant to this thread imo.

    Quote Originally Posted by EalingGreen View Post
    As someone who was first attracted to IL football by an outstanding performance by the Glens against the mighty Juventus in the European Cup in 1977, I would love to see a return to those days.
    The "mighty Juventus". I never heard of Juventus before but your use of the adjective mighty aroused my curiousity to the extent that I googled their name. And indeed they are mighty (in comparison to Glentoran).

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    Quote Originally Posted by ifk101 View Post
    It depends on how you define "compete". If we're talking competitive if the first round of European competition - nothing revolutionary needs to take place. It's simply a case of time management.
    By "competitive", I mean win some, lose some, with no great hammerings along the way.
    On which point, I do not see it as a priority of IL clubs significantly to re-organise their whole set-up, with the subsequent increased financial risk etc which may follow, simply in order to see half of the qualifying teams make it through to the 2nd round in Europe, at which point most will likely go out anyhow.

    Quote Originally Posted by ifk101 View Post

    And then the question follows why did you bring it up in the first place?
    If you read back through the thread properly, you will see that I am actually neutral on the topic of "chasing the European dream" generally, as evidenced by my acknowledgement of Derry City's success, alongside my citing of Leeds Utd's failure.
    Therefore, whilst LOI clubs must do what they think best, I don't think it appropriate or sensible for IL clubs to follow them at this point.

    You know, you seem to approach this topic almost as a "them and us" points-scoring exercise between the LOI and IL. I can't see why, since even when drawing parallels between the two leagues, I have at all times tried to be objective.

    Quote Originally Posted by ifk101 View Post
    What you wrote was off-topic and irrelevant to this thread imo.
    Once again, you claim it to be "irrelevant", but without explaining why. For clubs in any minor League to "up their game" and make a credible and sustained challenge at a higher level such as Europe, this will inevitably require significant changes to be made. And for the IL, those changes would inevitably carry an increased risk with them.
    Which might normally be fair enough, except that due to the particular, often unique, circumstances in which the IL finds itself, I consider that we have less margin for error than (ostensibly) comparable Leagues, therefore the risk-reward ratio is heavily against us.
    But even if I'm wrong about that, you cannot make such an assessment without taking into considerations all the factors which define your circumstances. Which is why I feel what I posted is entirely relevant; but if I'm wrong about that, I am open to correction by reasoned and logical argument.

    Quote Originally Posted by ifk101 View Post
    The "mighty Juventus". I never heard of Juventus before but your use of the adjective mighty aroused my curiousity to the extent that I googled their name. And indeed they are mighty (in comparison to Glentoran).
    It was just a turn of phrase, of no great significance on my part, therefore if you wish to use it as an opportunity to share your great wit with us, knock yourself out.
    That said, the game I referred to was during a period when Juve had to actually win Serie A in order to get into the European Cup, as opposed to merely finishing in the top four to qualify for the (so-called) "Champions League".
    Which change perhaps partly explains why, despite their being Italy's most successful team generally, they have failed to win any* European trophy since 1996.


    * - I don't actually count the late, unlamented Intertoto Cup they won 10 years ago, btw.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EalingGreen View Post
    ..... significantly to re-organise their whole set-up, with the subsequent increased financial risk etc which may follow, simply in order to see half of the qualifying teams make it through to the 2nd round in Europe, at which point most will likely go out anyhow.
    Like I said it comes down to time management. Distillery had 5 lads on holiday for their game. Does it really necessitate significant re-organisation and subsequent increased financial risk to field your best team for these games?

    Quote Originally Posted by EalingGreen View Post
    If you read back through the thread properly, you will see that I am actually neutral on the topic of "chasing the European dream" generally, as evidenced by my acknowledgement of Derry City's success, alongside my citing of Leeds Utd's failure.
    Therefore, whilst LOI clubs must do what they think best, I don't think it appropriate or sensible for IL clubs to follow them at this point.

    You know, you seem to approach this topic almost as a "them and us" points-scoring exercise between the LOI and IL. I can't see why, since even when drawing parallels between the two leagues, I have at all times tried to be objective.
    I really don't know what you are japping on about here. If you read my posts carefully you'll see that what I'm saying is that a bit of time management would help IL clubs immensely when it comes to European matches. The IL doesn't have to follow the summer season route taken by the LOI. Btw there were under factors behind the move the LOI move to a summer season - it wasn't all to do with "chasing the European dream".

    Quote Originally Posted by EalingGreen View Post
    Once again, you claim it to be "irrelevant", but without explaining why. For clubs in any minor League to "up their game" and make a credible and sustained challenge at a higher level such as Europe, this will inevitably require significant changes to be made. And for the IL, those changes would inevitably carry an increased risk with them.
    Which might normally be fair enough, except that due to the particular, often unique, circumstances in which the IL finds itself, I consider that we have less margin for error than (ostensibly) comparable Leagues, therefore the risk-reward ratio is heavily against us.
    But even if I'm wrong about that, you cannot make such an assessment without taking into considerations all the factors which define your circumstances. Which is why I feel what I posted is entirely relevant; but if I'm wrong about that, I am open to correction by reasoned and logical argument.
    Again - it's all about time management. IL clubs are not fielding their strongest sides in these games. Does it really require significant and fundamental changes to field your strongest side for these games? How is it relevant to quote population, the economic climate, "the troubles", government investment, the financial state of LOI clubs, the low number of IL clubs going bust in the said topic of discussion - the embarrassing results of IL clubs and the clear disinterest the majority of IL clubs have for European competition?

    Yeez do you really need to make a mountain out of a molehill (everytime)? Most of these European games are once-offs for the majority of IL clubs (Glentoran and Linfield are the exception). Is it that hard for clubs to field their strongest sides and have a go in these games?

    Btw I'm sure if they drew Juventus, none of the Distillery players would have been on holiday - (even taking into account school holidays, and the "Twelfth Fortnight").

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    Quote Originally Posted by ifk101 View Post
    Like I said it comes down to time management. Distillery had 5 lads on holiday for their game. Does it really necessitate significant re-organisation and subsequent increased financial risk to field your best team for these games?



    I really don't know what you are japping on about here. If you read my posts carefully you'll see that what I'm saying is that a bit of time management would help IL clubs immensely when it comes to European matches. The



    Again - it's all about time management. IL clubs are not fielding their strongest sides in these games. Does it really require significant and fundamental changes to field your strongest side for these games?
    So you're whole argument really just boils down to "time management", then?

    I'm afraid it is much more than that. For we already have a 10 month season (August to May). Therefore, by playing European games so early in July, by the time you have 2-3 weeks preparation (minimum) during June, you will actually be left with virtually a 12 month season.
    These are part-time footballers you're talking about, whose main job, plus family come first.

    Therefore, there are only three possible ways to "time manage" this situation:
    A. Give the players time off during the regular domestic season; or
    B. Re-arrange the whole domestic season significantly; or
    C. Go full-time.

    As regards the first, there is no way any club would risk weakening/disrupting its team during the regular season, for the sake of two, maybe four, European games. Remember, even had eg Linfield fielded their 1st choice XI against Randers, the chances are they would still not have gone through, since a Danish team in mid-season is always likely to be stronger than an IL team just starting its season.

    As regards the middle option, again I do not think that a couple (or four) of European games, for one or two IL clubs, is worth re-arranging the whole set-up for.

    And as regards the last, when Linfield fans complained last season eg about Spike Ferguson being away on his family holiday, I pointed out that if they want 1st call on him (i.e. over that of his employer), then they would need to pay him comparable wages, including those of his (teacher?) wife. They had no answer to that, funnily enough.
    Quite simply, there is no way IL clubs could go mostly/fully full-time in the present climate.

    Quote Originally Posted by ifk101 View Post
    How is it relevant to quote population, the economic climate, "the troubles", government investment, the financial state of LOI clubs, the low number of IL clubs going bust in the said topic of discussion - the embarrassing results of IL clubs and the clear disinterest the majority of IL clubs have for European competition?
    The reason I quoted those things was as an explanation of why the IL is currently so weak, and as a consequence, why they have much more important things to sort out before they can think of being competitive in Europe.
    Yes, IL clubs' attitude to Europe is one of disinterest (actually "lack of interest"); but any realistic appraisal of their situation explains why - they lack the resources to mount a credible challenge.

    Quote Originally Posted by ifk101 View Post
    Is it that hard for clubs to field their strongest sides and have a go in these games?
    They could do, but as I have tried to argue, the knock-on effect would hurt them further down the line in their domestic season, which ultimately is much more important to their existence. Or do you consider it crucial eg to Distillery that they should merely lose 2-1* at home to a Georgian side, rather than 5-1

    * - Remember, by way of comparison, 2-1 was the score by which Sligo Rovers lost at home to an Albanian team the same night...

    Quote Originally Posted by ifk101 View Post
    Btw I'm sure if they drew Juventus, none of the Distillery players would have been on holiday - (even taking into account school holidays, and the "Twelfth Fortnight").
    That is my whole point.
    For under the present set-up, there is no way Distillery could ever hope to meet a club of the stature of Juventus in a European tie on 2nd July.
    That is, an IL club would need to get through maybe three two-legged preliminary ties before meeting the team which had won a major League like Serie A.
    For when the Glens played Juve in 1977, it was in a 2nd round tie in October, by which time the IL season was well under way, and the Glens had already "warmed up" by beating Valur of Iceland in the 1st Round (in September?).

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    Quote Originally Posted by EalingGreen View Post
    So you're whole argument really just boils down to "time management", then?

    I'm afraid it is much more than that. For we already have a 10 month season (August to May). Therefore, by playing European games so early in July, by the time you have 2-3 weeks preparation (minimum) during June, you will actually be left with virtually a 12 month season.
    These are part-time footballers you're talking about, whose main job, plus family come first.

    Therefore, there are only three possible ways to "time manage" this situation:
    A. Give the players time off during the regular domestic season; or
    B. Re-arrange the whole domestic season significantly; or
    C. Go full-time.

    As regards the first, there is no way any club would risk weakening/disrupting its team during the regular season, for the sake of two, maybe four, European games. Remember, even had eg Linfield fielded their 1st choice XI against Randers, the chances are they would still not have gone through, since a Danish team in mid-season is always likely to be stronger than an IL team just starting its season.

    As regards the middle option, again I do not think that a couple (or four) of European games, for one or two IL clubs, is worth re-arranging the whole set-up for.

    And as regards the last, when Linfield fans complained last season eg about Spike Ferguson being away on his family holiday, I pointed out that if they want 1st call on him (i.e. over that of his employer), then they would need to pay him comparable wages, including those of his (teacher?) wife. They had no answer to that, funnily enough.
    Quite simply, there is no way IL clubs could go mostly/fully full-time in the present climate.
    Here's a simple and sensible solution.

    Have a Winter break and start the season a month earlier in the Summer. This helps avoid waterlogged postponements in the Winter and allows teams to be better prepared in the Summer for the European matches. The Danish team (Randers) are in their off-season btw.

    Quote Originally Posted by EalingGreen View Post
    The reason I quoted those things was as an explanation of why the IL is currently so weak, and as a consequence, why they have much more important things to sort out before they can think of being competitive in Europe.
    Yes, IL clubs' attitude to Europe is one of disinterest (actually "lack of interest"); but any realistic appraisal of their situation explains why - they lack the resources to mount a credible challenge.

    They could do, but as I have tried to argue, the knock-on effect would hurt them further down the line in their domestic season, which ultimately is much more important to their existence.
    Read my simple and sensible solution above

    Quote Originally Posted by EalingGreen View Post
    Or do you consider it crucial eg to Distillery that they should merely lose 2-1* at home to a Georgian side, rather than 5-1

    * - Remember, by way of comparison, 2-1 was the score by which Sligo Rovers lost at home to an Albanian team the same night...
    Considering that Sligo still have a chance of progressing in their tie, I'd have to answer yes.

    Quote Originally Posted by EalingGreen View Post
    That is my whole point.
    And misses my point which was that if Juventus was the team facing Distillery in the first round rather than Zestafoni, I'm sure Distillery would have been able to field their strongest side. In other words, I don't think the players (event junkies that they are ) would have any problem postponing/ missing their holidays for the mighty Juventus.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ifk101 View Post
    Here's a simple and sensible solution.

    Have a Winter break and start the season a month earlier in the Summer. This helps avoid waterlogged postponements in the Winter and allows teams to be better prepared in the Summer for the European matches. The Danish team (Randers) are in their off-season btw.
    Simple - yes, sensible - ostensibly, but feasible? I don't think so, for two reasons.

    First, when do you actually have your one month midwinter break? Christmas and New Year are out, since that is when crowds are traditionally high. And if you opt for January to have your break, what happens if you get real bad weather in February - hardly unknown in NI! - leading to postponed matches? (Obviously vice versa applies also)
    Either way, you have a fixture backlog to recover in March and April, when pitches are in their worst condition of the year and the weather can still be poor.

    Second, players still have to take their main holiday of the year sometime. Are you really going to tell a part-timer who is married and with kids (or married and with kids and grandkids, like Glenn Ferguson!), that they cannot take a fortnight off during the Summer, when the schools are out and businesses closed down etc, but instead must take the kids out of school in February or March?

    What you are overlooking is that the old European format of 3 Cups with straight knockouts, starting in September and ending in May, has now been replaced by 2 "mini-Leagues" (i.e. far more matches), which means the European season now has to start at the beginning of July, if it is still going to finish in May.

    Therefore, the only realistic way that IL clubs may accommodate this imposition is either by going full-time (i.e. so they may have 1st call over their players and their holidays etc); or, by moving to a Summer season.

    Quote Originally Posted by ifk101 View Post
    Considering that Sligo still have a chance of progressing in their tie, I'd have to answer yes.
    Of course Distillery would prefer to still be in with a chance in the 2nd leg, like Sligo. But that is not what I asked, which was whether progressing to the next round (or even a chance of doing so) was crucial to Distillery's season. (Answer: No)

    Quote Originally Posted by ifk101 View Post
    And misses my point which was that if Juventus was the team facing Distillery in the first round rather than Zestafoni, I'm sure Distillery would have been able to field their strongest side. In other words, I don't think the players (event junkies that they are ) would have any problem postponing/ missing their holidays for the mighty Juventus.
    I'm sorry, but to contest that the Distillery players would have cancelled their holidays had they been playing Juve etc, is spectacularly missing the point.

    For due to the Seeding element, there is no way that someone like Juve could ever be playing Distillery or Sligo etc in the 1st Qualifying Round of the Europa League in July.
    The big clubs don't actually come into the competition until later Rounds, and if they are from a major League, they don't even have to enter the Europa League at all - they get into the (so-called) Champions League, (i.e. even if they finished 3rd or 4th in Italy, Germany, Spain or England etc).

    Or to put it another way, how many "big" clubs can you spot in the following?
    http://www.uefa.com/competitions/uefacup/index.html
    http://www.uefa.com/competitions/ucl...id=841704.html

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    Quote Originally Posted by EalingGreen View Post
    ....... do you consider it crucial eg to Distillery that they should merely lose 2-1* at home to a Georgian side, rather than 5-1

    * - Remember, by way of comparison, 2-1 was the score by which Sligo Rovers lost at home to an Albanian team the same night...
    You could also use by comparison the results the Welsh teams got that night (1-0 win away and 2-1 defeat away), both of which give said sides a good chance of progress. Surely the Irish league must think itself capable of at least matching the Welsh Premier, yet it is not even doing that at present.

    As I said before, if a more professional attitude were adopted then progress would probably follow, if not initially then eventually. And I don't know about you, but a tie against a side like Basel, Rapid Vienna, Pacos Ferreira, Gent, Steaua Bucharest, or NAC Breda (just some of the teams in the second round draw) is worth fielding a full squad for. Saying 'we can't get through and anyway we're playing a small team so why bother' is a bad attitude.
    "Life is like a hair on a toilet seat. Sooner or later you are bound to get pi$$ed off."

    "In this league, a draw is sometimes as good as a win" - Steve Morison

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cymro View Post
    You could also use by comparison the results the Welsh teams got that night (1-0 win away and 2-1 defeat away), both of which give said sides a good chance of progress. Surely the Irish league must think itself capable of at least matching the Welsh Premier, yet it is not even doing that at present.
    Fair point - both good results (though I can't help thinking that Llanelli hit Motherwell at just the best time).

    Quote Originally Posted by Cymro View Post
    As I said before, if a more professional attitude were adopted then progress would probably follow, if not initially then eventually. And I don't know about you, but a tie against a side like Basel, Rapid Vienna, Pacos Ferreira, Gent, Steaua Bucharest, or NAC Breda (just some of the teams in the second round draw) is worth fielding a full squad for. Saying 'we can't get through and anyway we're playing a small team so why bother' is a bad attitude.
    Were last week's results a reflection of Welsh clubs making a conscious effort to "up their game" for Europe? If so, then fair play to them.
    However, I don't think we can quite overlook other recent results where Welsh clubs were also embarrassed e.g. Bangor losing 10-1 (aggregate) to Midtylland, or Carmarthen 3-14 (agg) to Brann.

    There may also be mitigating circumstances to explain individual IL results.
    For just as Motherwell had just lost Mark McGhee, Distillery also lost their highly successful manager of 15 years(?) during close season (thanks to a Boardroom coup), which also caused a number of their leading players to walk out - all this just before their European tie.
    As for Linfield, for some reason, they are traditionally crap in Europe (though they seem to rate the Setanta Cup).
    By contrast, Glentoran have generally done OK in Europe in recent seasons.

    Don't get me wrong, I cringe to see those IL results as much as anyone (except where it's Linfield ), and would love to see them taking it more seriously and doing better. However, I can also see why it is not at the top of their list of priorities, and why it would take more than just a bit of pre-match motivation etc, for IL teams to sustain a credible and rewarding challenge in Europe.

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    In fairness Bangor and Carmarthen got horrible draws those years, although I admit they were terrible results. But they aren't happening on a consistent basis these days. Carmarthen played a Danish side I think it was the year before that (the year they beat Longford anyway) and the scoreline was respectable (2-0 defeat in each leg). But with Irish sides it was the same last year, and the year before that. And let's be honest, Zestafoni aren't one of the strongest sides in the first qualifying round. Linfield's result was half exusable because it was away against a strong Randers side (and apparently Linfield had held them for 60 minutes or so) but Lisburn losing 5-1 at home to a team like Zestafoni is embarrasing.

    As for the Welsh results, yes, I do think that a more serious approach to Europe has paid dividends. If you look back to the turn of the century, only Barry Town ever achieved any decent results in Europe, everyone else got hammered consistently whereas these days even if we don't go through the results are much closer. Partly the improvement can be put down to less naivety on the part of our teams these days but a lot of it also has to be said for a better attitude.
    "Life is like a hair on a toilet seat. Sooner or later you are bound to get pi$$ed off."

    "In this league, a draw is sometimes as good as a win" - Steve Morison

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cymro View Post
    In fairness Bangor and Carmarthen got horrible draws those years, although I admit they were terrible results. But they aren't happening on a consistent basis these days. Carmarthen played a Danish side I think it was the year before that (the year they beat Longford anyway) and the scoreline was respectable (2-0 defeat in each leg). But with Irish sides it was the same last year, and the year before that. And let's be honest, Zestafoni aren't one of the strongest sides in the first qualifying round. Linfield's result was half exusable because it was away against a strong Randers side (and apparently Linfield had held them for 60 minutes or so) but Lisburn losing 5-1 at home to a team like Zestafoni is embarrasing.

    As for the Welsh results, yes, I do think that a more serious approach to Europe has paid dividends. If you look back to the turn of the century, only Barry Town ever achieved any decent results in Europe, everyone else got hammered consistently whereas these days even if we don't go through the results are much closer. Partly the improvement can be put down to less naivety on the part of our teams these days but a lot of it also has to be said for a better attitude.
    Merthyr Tydfil?

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    I was talking specifically about the Welsh Premier League. Merthyr's result against Atalanta was back in the 70s, well before the league was even suggested.
    "Life is like a hair on a toilet seat. Sooner or later you are bound to get pi$$ed off."

    "In this league, a draw is sometimes as good as a win" - Steve Morison

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