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Thread: Where might new clubs come from?

  1. #101
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    Quote Originally Posted by EalingGreen View Post
    If I may make some observations from afar, might I suggest that the basic problem about attracting new teams and bolstering the 1st Division, even introducing a pyramid etc, is as follows.

    For any such system to work, it is necessary to have 16? 18? 20? teams (minimum) which are all broadly competitive?

    By which I mean not that each has an equal chance of winning the title etc, but that the worst team shouldn't be that far off the best team (i.e. usually losing, but not by 5 or 6 goal hidings every time).

    And since the Premier Division went full-time, that opened up a gap between Premier and First which is incredibly hard to bridge, unless FD clubs gamble and start spending money they don't have. And if/when they do, that makes it harder again for emerging clubs from further down to make the step-up to the FD.

    Worse still, with the advent of big European prize money, there is even a danger of the PD dividing into "haves" and "have nots" (outliers like Bohs notwithstanding).

    So that as things stand, ROI isn't capable of sustaining the number of stable, f-t clubs necessary to operate a pyramid incorporsting Promotion and Relegation, and to encourage emerging new entrants to come through etc.

    I only say this because the Irish League, for all its other faults, esp lower standard of play, is able to sustain a successful and stable pyramid, with two Senior divisions and Internediate divisions feeding through to them and Junior league clubs having the opportunity to rise to Intermediate level. As a result, we have had far fewer clubs folding, while smaller (or newish) teams like Ballinamallard, Warrenpoint and Institute have been (broadly) able to hold their own.
    But that has been achieved on the basis that all are/were effectively part-time.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northe..._league_system

    Of course, that is now under threat as several teams (Linfield, Crues, Glens, Larne, even Cliftonville?) are now f-t, or actively planning to get there. And with European money also beginning to skew the finances, we may end up with a situation closer to that in the LOI - but that's for the future, and I am reasonably confident that the existing structure and administration, which is relatively (emphasise) efficient, may mitigate the worst effects.

    Of course if you were to take, say, the top 10 LOI clubs and add the top 8 IL clubs, you might have the basis of a working top tier, with a sufficient number of teams below able (just about) to sustain P&R etc.

    Now why didn't somebody think of that before?
    I would agree with you broadly on the above, but would suggest that the main reason the Irish League has been stable and not had any boom or busts in clubs is because it hasn't had any money either. No big financial gaps between clubs were suddenly created, so no pressure put on anyone else to up their spending to keep up. And the IL is essentially a closed-shop (it's extremely hard, even with the pyramid, for new clubs to establish themselves properly at the top level). So without any money, you don't get a Sporting Fingal there.

    That could all be about to change with investments in Larne, Glentoran etc.

    If I can be honest there sometimes appears to be a smugness/superiority complex amongst some sections of northern fans (not yourself) that the LOI is a basket case whilst the north is wonderful and all steady-as-she-goes, without understanding or analysing why that is. I suspect a few shocks may be in store as there is more and more money in the game north of the border and it starts to be impacted by some of the madness that afflicts football everywhere else (and not just in the LOI).
    Last edited by EatYerGreens; 10/05/2020 at 5:35 PM.

  2. #102
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    Quote Originally Posted by EatYerGreens View Post
    I would agree with you broadly on the above, but would suggest that the main reason the Irish League has been stable and not had any boom or busts in clubs is because it hasn't had any money either. No big financial gaps between clubs were suddenly created, so no pressure put on anyone else to up their spending to keep up.
    Whether clubs have £5 in the bank, or £5m, it's all the same, you have to live within your means.

    This lesson had to be learned by the IL a decade or more ago, when the likes of Glentoran and Coleraine spent money they didn't have to try to keep up with the one club who did have plenty of it relatively-speaking, Linfield (from their IFA contract for Windsor).

    When those two clubs nearly went bust, it served as a cold shower for them and the rest which, added to better administration of the league and the retention of p-t football, meant clubs/leagues are mostly stable. It also helps that most senior clubs own their own grounds, so aren't at risk from rogue owners or property developers etc. (Two who don't, Linfield and Ballymena, both have reliable landlords and Ards, well they struggle by.)

    Quote Originally Posted by EatYerGreens View Post
    And the IL is essentially a closed-shop (it's extremely hard, even with the pyramid, for new clubs to establish themselves properly at the top level). So without any money, you don't get a Sporting Fingal there.

    That could all be about to change with investments in Larne, Glentoran etc.
    Not so. There are 8 "established" Premier teams - Linfield, Glentoran, Cliftonville, Crusaders, Dungannon, Coleraine, Glenavon and Ballymena.

    Over the last decade alone they have been joined at various times by Institute, Carrick R, Warrenpoint, Larne, Newry C, Ards, Ballinamallard, L. Distillery, Donegal C amd Portadown (10). Now that Newry are sorted, all of those are stable, bar Donegal Celtic(?), with Portadown easily having the potential to become the 9th establishment club, if they ever sort themselves out. (Though tbf, they looked certs for promotion this season until Covid-19 intervened.)

    Meanwhile, Armagh C, Ballyclare, Dundela, the Welders, Limavady, Loughgall and Bangor (7) are all long-established, some have been in the top tier, and each might hope to be the next "breakthrough" club, given time and investment, like eg Ballinamallard and Warrenpoint have done.

    So even if the IL operates at an obviously more modest level than the LOI, it nonetheless has a depth which your league doesn't appear to have. (To me, at any rate - I'm open to correction)


    Quote Originally Posted by EatYerGreens View Post
    If I can be honest there sometimes appears to be a smugness/superiority complex amongst some sections of northern fans (not yourself) that the LOI is a basket case whilst the north is wonderful and all steady-as-she-goes, without understanding or analysing why that is. I suspect a few shocks may be in store as there is more and more money in the game north of the border and it starts to be impacted by some of the madness that afflicts football everywhere else (and not just in the LOI).
    Tbh, I'm not that close to the IL either these days, but I'm prepared to accept that observation.

    And yes, there is a very real danger that as and when more money comes into the IL, with the prospect of even more from Europe, we could be about to see a resumption of "the arms race."

    But having been there before and come through it without too many casualties, we should (stress) be better placed to cope. And without wishing to appear smug, for all its many faults, the IFA isn't screwing the league set-up so badly as the FAI appears to have been doing, which must offer us some hope.

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  4. #103
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    Quote Originally Posted by pineapple stu View Post
    So the reason I see a 16-team Premier as being the best way forward (not a panacea - just the best option at present) is that it actively encourages the stronger non-league sides to want to step up. Give it decent prize money, give them the buzz of promotion (I think the way Cabo came into the league hamstrung them from the very start), give them big games (on TV if possible), give them something to try help generate local interest and grow the club. If they end up relegated, well they just go back to where they came from and can try again. Let LoI B teams compete up to the second tier - another problem solved (it's effectively the LSL, and B teams compete there anyway).

    Yes, you're right that this would probably lead to an uneven division - although most LoI clubs have shown they can be competitive given a bit of financial support - but I think it would help grow some new clubs. You've got to pick which one you want, and I think the latter is the preferable option.
    There's a lot of sense in the stuff which preceeded the above extract, but I still don't see how a 16 team PD would work.

    I mean, with an existing 10 team set-up where the bottom 2 or 3 struggle to keep up, what hope would the next six have?

    And even if they did compete, wouldn't that effectively "fillet" the FD, thereby killing any hope of constructing a pyramid further down?

  5. #104
    Biased against YOUR club pineapple stu's Avatar
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    Don't really agree. As I mentioned, most of the current FD have the potential to be vaguely competitive with some support behind them. That's why the suggestion wasn't just a 16-team Premier, but had other aspects to it, including E2m prize money (the FAI were supposed to be debt-free by 2020, thereby freeing up E3m a year of interest). The top half of the FD all have the potential to be competitive in the PD if invested in rather than funding the FAI. And anyway, as also mentioned, getting new clubs to step up is more important at the moment than ensuring all PD games are tight affairs.

    It would completely get rid of the FD - that's the entire point. The second tier would be better structured as LSL/MSL/USL/CSL (maybe merge the last two). So you're keeping close to current structures but putting a clear pathway between the two levels.

    Get rid of daft stuff like county district leagues for each county, two Limerick leagues, clubs switching from LSL to AUL to UCL. It's an utter absurdity of a system designed at generating big fish in small ponds who've no interest in improving. And that can only hinder the game here

  6. #105
    International Prospect Nesta99's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nigel-harps1954 View Post
    Yeah, I get what you're saying.

    And yeah, you've completely lost it.
    Brutal honesty is good and a 50% hit ratio! ;p Tired post of drivle after a sh!t show of a long nightshift is my excuse. At least there is plenty to catch up on in this thread. Good to get proper football related debate that isnt about covid!! Even if some of the issues cropping up have often been discussed before - we need Legendz back for this!

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    Problem with the current league structure in my opinion is that it's half pyramid half ring-fenced setup with the worst aspects of both. We don't have to money in football in this country for a ring-fence model and until now the FAI haven't had the balls to enforce a pyramid structure so well have to see if that changes or if we keep this sort of ******* hybrid. We need to fully commit to one or the other not try compromise.

    And for what it's worth 2 or 10 winners in a decade I don't think makes a difference purely depends how teams do in Europe. If you have a case where either system sees equal results in Europe then the 10 winners would probably win out because in theory you'd have teams pushing eachother more.

  9. #107
    Banned. Children Banned. Grandchildren Banned. 3 Months. Charlie Darwin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nesta99 View Post
    There is merit in redistribution I know. I should have said bad idea for the clubs that are in Europe currently. As ye know I will happily get on board with the idea if Peak6 up sticks and we need money and stability. The prospect of a widening gap financially would be a concern also but it is hard feign sincerity on this when your team happens to be in the mix. I would like to be able to say in the future, among other things, ' for the benefit of the league Dundalk needs more competition, lets share prizemoney'.
    I remember John O'Sullivan saying that Rovers proposed redistributing Euro money before but it was voted down.

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  11. #108
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    Quote Originally Posted by pineapple stu View Post
    It wouldn't be spat if their self-interest was met I think. And that's always been the way with the league.

    Rovers* and Dundalk were the two main clubs against the PCA document, particularly the suggested expansion of the Premier (possibly because of the suggestion of the partial redistribution of European money too). And I can understand why purely looking it from their point of view. From the bigger picture though, the First Division is a huge and unhelpful barrier to entry, and the league as a whole can't really improve with it in its current format. The league should be doing everything it can to get more clubs taking the step up to senior level. Every other country in Europe operates that way.


    * - Rovers suggested that each club should be forced to buy 250 adult tickets in advance for each away game. If they sold them all, then there was no issue. If they sold, say, 50, then that would make up for Rovers subsidising the likes of Bray. That's the level of petty self-interest clubs operate on. Let's not kid ourselves about that.
    Don't know about Dundalk but Rovers were against the proposal because of the proposed redistribution of transfer fees received which considering the plans Rovers had in motion at the time impacted them far more than any other club.
    And the problem with the expansion was that it was to be done instantly which doesn't make sense for any party.


    I also don't recall rovers suggesting the buying 250 away tickets in advance

  12. #109
    Biased against YOUR club pineapple stu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RathfarnhamHoop View Post
    Don't know about Dundalk but Rovers were against the proposal because of the proposed redistribution of transfer fees received which considering the plans Rovers had in motion at the time impacted them far more than any other club.
    Which is fair, albeit that it comes under the self-interest category again.

    Quote Originally Posted by RathfarnhamHoop View Post
    And the problem with the expansion was that it was to be done instantly which doesn't make sense for any party.
    No it wasn't? It in fact can't be done instantly because the leagues need to be joined up first.

    Quote Originally Posted by RathfarnhamHoop View Post
    I also don't recall rovers suggesting the buying 250 away tickets in advance
    It was said as part a general feedback request.

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    Seasoned Pro oriel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EalingGreen View Post
    Not so. There are 8 "established" Premier teams - Linfield, Glentoran, Cliftonville, Crusaders, Dungannon, Coleraine, Glenavon and Ballymena.

    Over the last decade alone they have been joined at various times by Institute, Carrick R, Warrenpoint, Larne, Newry C, Ards, Ballinamallard, L. Distillery, Donegal C amd Portadown (10). Now that Newry are sorted, all of those are stable, bar Donegal Celtic(?), with Portadown easily having the potential to become the 9th establishment club, if they ever sort themselves out. (Though tbf, they looked certs for promotion this season until Covid-19 intervened.)
    Are you sure Dungannon would be included in this group of 'established' clubs, last time I looked them up their avg was well below 500, as for the second grouping you listed, you can remove Newry from that, I have friends living up there, tiny support and the club is largely ignored throughout the town. I would say by far Portadown would be next best placed, possibly Larne too.
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    Quote Originally Posted by pineapple stu View Post
    Which is fair, albeit that it comes under the self-interest category again.


    No it wasn't? It in fact can't be done instantly because the leagues need to be joined up first.


    It was said as part a general feedback request.
    Wouldn't call it self interest, especially in LOI, because if you have that clause in the LOI then you take away a lot of the advantages of offering long term contracts which is ultimately what we want.

    I meant instantly as in the league would have jumped from 12 to 16 in one go, not as in it would be done straight away.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RathfarnhamHoop View Post
    Wouldn't call it self interest, especially in LOI, because if you have that clause in the LOI then you take away a lot of the advantages of offering long term contracts which is ultimately what we want.
    You do, but the flip side is that the benefit gained by having the FAI buy-in and increased investment should, in theory, outweigh that. An FAI who are actively invested in seeing Rovers get to the group stages of Europe or make more money from transfers would be very beneficial for Rovers. It's obviously ridiculous that they wouldn't be doing that anyway as, you know, part of their job, but that's the position we're in.

    Quote Originally Posted by RathfarnhamHoop View Post
    I meant instantly as in the league would have jumped from 12 to 16 in one go, not as in it would be done straight away.
    OK. I still don't agree tbh - the point is to get rid of the First Division and that's not something you can do in dribs and drabs (you can't reduce down to a 12/6 PD/FD split, and then a 14/4 split for example). You'd need to have the leagues aligned and licensing matters sorted before going ahead with it of course, but I don't see how you do it other than in one go.

    But lookit - moot point really!

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    Quote Originally Posted by pineapple stu View Post
    You do, but the flip side is that the benefit gained by having the FAI buy-in and increased investment should, in theory, outweigh that. An FAI who are actively invested in seeing Rovers get to the group stages of Europe or make more money from transfers would be very beneficial for Rovers. It's obviously ridiculous that they wouldn't be doing that anyway as, you know, part of their job, but that's the position we're in.


    OK. I still don't agree tbh - the point is to get rid of the First Division and that's not something you can do in dribs and drabs (you can't reduce down to a 12/6 PD/FD split, and then a 14/4 split for example). You'd need to have the leagues aligned and licensing matters sorted before going ahead with it of course, but I don't see how you do it other than in one go.

    But lookit - moot point really!
    Yeah of course my point was just that being against the 16 team league proposal couldn't just be marked down to self interests because ultimately what appears to be self interest on the surface actually isn't when you consider the wider implications.

    Yeah you can't do it in dribs and drabs but doing it in one go would just result in essentially two divisions in one, the proposal lacked and clarity on how it would be managed to avoid that so while going to 16 team league might actually be a good idea it would have to be done in the right way which I know was what some clubs problem with it was, not the end result but the how in order to get the best end result

  17. #114
    Biased against YOUR club pineapple stu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RathfarnhamHoop View Post
    doing it in one go would just result in essentially two divisions in one, the proposal lacked and clarity on how it would be managed to avoid
    Still don't agree with that actually. The point of the significant investment was to increase the standard across all club; €100-€150k extra for teams 9-16 would make a big difference (more than the same amount given to the top teams obviously), particularly when you look at the player drain the LoI seems to suffer, which has it as one of the youngest leagues in the world.

    And I think even focusing on that over the flip side of the argument of needing to develop new clubs is also an inherently self-centred stance. Which, again, it's quite understandable. But I think to bring this back on topic a bit, this all stemmed from Nesta's comment that "Would Dundalk and Rovers really give out about [an expanded league] when it came to the crunch?" and then listing some of the exact arguments which you're raising now. So I think it's clear that Rovers/Dundalk would give out about it, which was where I was going with my original point.

    (It also wasn't a proposal btw; it was a discussion document. The idea was to get some debate going on what the league could/should look like, rather than go into specifics on details, timelines, what margin of wins wouldn't be satisfactory initially, etc)

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    First Team EalingGreen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pineapple stu View Post
    Don't really agree. As I mentioned, most of the current FD have the potential to be vaguely competitive with some support behind them.
    "most of... ... potential... ... vaguely... ... some support".
    Not the deepest of foundations to be building a house on, I'd say.

    Quote Originally Posted by pineapple stu View Post
    That's why the suggestion wasn't just a 16-team Premier, but had other aspects to it, including E2m prize money (the FAI were supposed to be debt-free by 2020, thereby freeing up E3m a year of interest).
    Far from being "debt free", the FAI's debts were €62m at the start of the year, they've already used this years UEFA money as an advance and are relying (I think) on an €18m govt. bail-out just to keep the lights on.
    The new lot might stop taking their annual €300k from the LOI, but that's a helluva way short of finding extra sums like €2m p.a. in prize money. And if the NT doesn't qualify for the next couple of tournaments (a possiblility), that's further huge revenues they'll miss out on.

    Quote Originally Posted by pineapple stu View Post
    The top half of the FD all have the potential to be competitive in the PD if invested in rather than funding the FAI. And anyway, as also mentioned, getting new clubs to step up is more important at the moment than ensuring all PD games are tight affairs.
    "... all have the potential" - there's that word again.
    And even if it's correct, whilst each individual club may have that potential, they're not all going to realise it en bloc in a season or two. At a very minimum, each would need major investment - both on and off the field - and that's nowhere in sight just now.
    Further, this thread is asking where new clubs could come from. Cabinteely, Drogs, Longford, UCD, Bray and Cobh are all existing clubs, not new ones.
    So that even if they could "step up", that just kicks the can (problem) further down the road, as outlined below.

    Quote Originally Posted by pineapple stu View Post
    It would completely get rid of the FD - that's the entire point. The second tier would be better structured as LSL/MSL/USL/CSL (maybe merge the last two). So you're keeping close to current structures but putting a clear pathway between the two levels.

    Get rid of daft stuff like county district leagues for each county, two Limerick leagues, clubs switching from LSL to AUL to UCL. It's an utter absurdity of a system designed at generating big fish in small ponds who've no interest in improving. And that can only hinder the game here
    OK, let us assume those 6 teams could step up to the PD.
    That could only be sustained over a period with major, long-tern investment.
    Even if there were people/organisations/businesses out there who might be inclined to consider it (huge "if" imo), are they going to invest in a club which could get relegated after a season or two to eg the MSL or USL/CSL?
    Think of it in English terms. Championship clubs generally incur huge debts in order to reach the PL, with more while they try to become established. So that just in case they go back down quickly, they need huge parachute payments to withstand the shock. Even then, it isn't always enough, meaning that even big clubs like Sunderland and Ipswich can go down again.
    Your suggested set-up could never hope to have anything like that sort of "safety net", meaning the "step-up" clubs you suggest and/or potential backers simply will not take that chance.
    None of which should be a surprise, since it's basically why clubs currently below the two tiers of the LOI won't take a chance on applying for the FD, even when there's plenty of places.

    Which is why I think the only hope of attracting stable, competitive new clubs which will not fold after a few years is by either:
    (a ) devising, implementing, funding and operating professionally an all-encompassing plan for league football in the ROI over, say, the 20 year period necessary to allow new clubs to grow and develop organically and sustainably;
    or
    (b ) join up with the IL in an AIL of some sort.

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    International Prospect Martinho II's Avatar
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    We saw years ago when Kildare Co were formed it didnt work out. I dont know why Newbridge Town didnt enter a team back then as they have a high enough profile in the town considering I think ex Town player Paul Perth was/is mgr of them. Pity it didnt work out that.
    As for the north they have the more stable structure. I have being following the NI league for at least 20 years and the only team I can remember going bust were Omagh Town. Now I could be wrong.
    I for one think the timing is right for an all island league as theres a hell of a lot of grounds in the North I have never being too. I have only attended matches in the Oval and Windsor Park and drove past Newrys ground and would love to see that happen before I die imo.
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    Quote Originally Posted by oriel View Post
    Are you sure Dungannon would be included in this group of 'established' clubs, last time I looked them up their avg was well below 500, as for the second grouping you listed, you can remove Newry from that, I have friends living up there, tiny support and the club is largely ignored throughout the town. I would say by far Portadown would be next best placed, possibly Larne too.
    Swifts are a small club, no doubt, but having been founded in 1949, they've managed to build and develop Stangmore into a very tidy wee stadium, perfectly adequate for their own needs in the top tier. I suspect they're near enough debt-free, or at least with serviceable debts, since I can't recall them ever being in huge financial trouble, never mind going bust. And they've now survived in the top tier for nearly two decades unbroken (they did once have to survive a relegation play-off; as against that, they've also twice finished fourth).

    To do that on very small gates over such a period is a tribute to their management, and is what I meant by "established".

    And again, not wishing to appear smug or score points etc, how many comparably-sized LOI clubs could say the same (esp provincial ones)?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Martinho II View Post
    We saw years ago when Kildare Co were formed it didnt work out. I dont know why Newbridge Town didnt enter a team back then as they have a high enough profile in the town considering I think ex Town player Paul Perth was/is mgr of them. Pity it didnt work out that.
    As for the north they have the more stable structure. I have being following the NI league for at least 20 years and the only team I can remember going bust were Omagh Town. Now I could be wrong.
    Tbh, Omagh has never really been a proper "football" town imo, it's strong GAA territory. And such football as there is is divided between a number of clubs in/around the town, who are more interested in outdoing each other than combining to pool their resources. Meanwhile, even when Omagh Town were giving it a go, there were, shall we say, question marks over the finances of the club. (Think "Father Ted" and "money resting in accounts").
    Meanwhile, Newry Town went bust, but soon came back as "Newry City" and whilst again a v.small affair, they do still have The Showgrounds and do seem to be getting by in the second tier.
    Beyond that, 2 or 3 bigger clubs came very close to going bust a decade or more ago, most notably Glentoran and Coleraine, but they all seem finally to have got their house in order since. (Bangor FC saw a crisis coming and decided the Premier Division wasn't for them, preferring instead to cut their cloth in the Championship. They're now in the third tier, but at least they never went bust owing people money afaik).
    The key was that they all stopped paying big wages they couldn't afford for "name" players, in order to keep up with Linfield, instead staying p-t and living broadly within their means.
    The senior clubs taking over the running of their leagues also helped, along with an IFA which whilst never the most progressive or professional of organisations (understatement!), at least avoided the worst of the mistreatment meted out on the LOI by the FAI.

    Quote Originally Posted by Martinho II View Post
    I for one think the timing is right for an all island league as theres a hell of a lot of grounds in the North I have never being too. I have only attended matches in the Oval and Windsor Park and drove past Newrys ground and would love to see that happen before I die imo.
    I'm not in a position to comment on LOI grounds, nor have I been to every current IL ground. But I get the strong impression that IL grounds are overall better suited to clubs' needs and better maintained/updated than those in the LOI. Plus clubs nearly all own their grounds, with Linfield (IFA) and Ballymena (Council) having secure tenure.
    Plus there is somethinh like £30m funding(?) set aside at Stormont for regional football grounds development, which was delayed when the Assembly was suspended. It should still be there, but with this Covid crisis, it wouldn't surprise me greatly if doesn't materialise.

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  23. #119
    Seasoned Pro oriel's Avatar
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    I didnt realised Dungannon were in the IL top div for almost 20 years.

    On the question re established IL clubs v LOI, not sure fair comparsion, as IL is almost all part time, so far less pressures, I'd imagine even the running of clubs are vastly different between daily and biggest full time clubs like of Dundalk and Rovers to top 2 or 3 in IL.

    Possibly mid table LOI say from 4th to 7th would be even operating at a higher level than top 3 in IL?

    Then again being part time has its benefits too, less financial pressures, but less potential income streams.
    Last edited by oriel; 11/05/2020 at 3:32 PM.
    #DundalkFC - 5 titles in 6 years 2014-2019 / FAI CUP Winners 2020

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    Quote Originally Posted by oriel View Post
    I didnt realised Dungannon were in the IL top div for almost 20 years.

    On the question re established IL clubs v LOI, not sure fair comparsion, as IL is almost all part time, so far less pressures, I'd imagine even the running of clubs are vastly different between daily and biggest full time clubs like of Dundalk and Rovers to top 2 or 3 in IL.

    Possibly mid table LOI say from 4th to 7th would be even operating at a higher level than top 3 in IL?

    Then again being part time has its benefits too, less financial pressures, but less potential income streams.
    All fair points.

    As against that, though, I think I'm right in saying a few LOI clubs depend, or have depended upon rich benefactors funding them - eg Derry and Waterford.

    The only two IL clubs to which that applies are Larne and Glentoran, both very recent.

    With Larne, their guy is a genuine fan from boyhood, who looks to be good for the money (hope Covid doesn't prove that wrong) and who is spending money on stadium and training infrastructure as well as players. That could see them established over the long term so that eventually they could hold their own in the top tier without the need for subsidy.

    As for the Glens, it should always raise an eyebrow when "Wealthy Anglo-Iranian Businessman invests in Belfast football club", but so far, at least, the fans think him bona fide. And their (once huge) debts have finally all been cleared. And I know I'm biased, but I have no doubt that properly run, the Glens have the potential to be as big as any club in Ireland. After all they've been there or thereabouts before during their long history, with the support and infrastructure to match, so there's no good reason to believe they can't be again.

    Meanwhile, it seems a hefty chunk of Stormont's Regional Stadium Development money has been earmarked for The Oval (maybe as much as £10M?).

    P.S. One other factor. IL clubs have had to manage this whilst also copping for 20% VAT on all gate receipts, unlike the LOI (Derry excepted). Well all declared gate receipts at any rate!

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