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Thread: Warrenpoint & PIL Restructure

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    Seasoned Pro EalingGreen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by joey B View Post
    I read somewhere that the USL and the Intermediate League were to have a meeting in relation to some kind of merger,the USL is done and they we’re looking for an alternative,
    I’m pretty sure the meeting came to nothing though and the clubs are going go back into to the Donegal and Inishowen leagues….
    From another forum: "They wouldn't be allowed to play a league between the 2 jurisdictions, the very most they could play would be a non affiliated cup/"
    I'm no expert (understatement!), but I'd say that is correct.

    Even in the case of individual clubs seeking to play in another country/jurisdiction, there needs to be a pressing need, or historical precedent, before the respective Associations and FIFA/UEFA would consider it.

    While cross-border competitions between teams from different leagues may be permitted (eg Setanta, Baltic, Scandinavian Royal League), an actual merged league throws up much greater issues - see eg UEFA's absolute opposition to the European Super League.
    Last edited by EalingGreen; 11/06/2023 at 12:25 AM.

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    Tyrone side Coagh United FC this evening became the 14th team in the expanded Premier Intermediate League (NIFL third tier), after a last-minute 1-0 victory over Lurgan club Oxford Sunnyside FC.

    A draw would have sufficed for Oxford to go up instead of Coagh.

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    The former club of current NI Stuart Dallas, as google informs me. Can't say I've ever been, but Coagh is a tiny village, and there's not much to their ground!
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    Quote Originally Posted by nigel-harps1954 View Post
    The former club of current NI Stuart Dallas, as google informs me. Can't say I've ever been, but Coagh is a tiny village, and there's not much to their ground!
    All very true no doubt, but I'd guess the club should be reasonably competitive, and the ground adequate, for third tier football?

    I think (unsure?) they've been there before, so we'll see how it turns out this time.

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    Is there any restriction from getting promoted from PiL to Championship in terms of the facilities?

    I think most of the PiL teams have played at a higher level at some time so I guess the only issue would be promotion to Premiership, like Loughgall have faced.
    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
    Is there any restriction from getting promoted from PiL to Championship in terms of the facilities?
    I believe there is, but don't quote me on that. With respect to the Warrenpoint fiasco, it appears that in order to qualify for promotion, PIL clubs need a Championship licence by the start of their second season at the higher level.

    EDIT: On reflection, I think the Licence for PIL teams may be the same as for the Championship, it's just that teams getting promoted to the PIL from the fourth tier are permitted one season before they have to meet the requirements for a PIL/Championship Licence?

    Quote Originally Posted by JC_GUFC View Post
    I think most of the PiL teams have played at a higher level at some time so I guess the only issue would be promotion to Premiership, like Loughgall have faced.
    Except that standards have been increased over time, meaning that grounds which might have passed at a higher level a decade or two ago, may not now be deemed suitable.

    Overall, though, it has to be a balance between raising standards i.e. can't let just any old team in with a pitch in a farmer's field with a rope round it; and being realistic i.e. Scottish football's former requirement for all-seater stadia with a minimum 10k capacity, even for teams which hardly ever needed it.

    Also, you need to be flexible regarding timetables. That is, don't necessarily require strict adherence from Day One in the new, higher level, then find the team is relegated again after a season or two.
    Last edited by EalingGreen; 13/06/2023 at 11:54 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EalingGreen View Post
    Oto, the Northern Ireland Intermediate League could be in jeopardy, since it is thought Newtowne are rejoining the Ballymena Intermediate league next season, with rumours that Newbuildings may join them. While it seems Dungiven Celtic may be dropping down to Junior football.

    Dunno where that would leave the remaining few stalwarts - Strabane Ath, Maiden City, Trojans and Ardstraw?
    Apparently Strabane Ath. today confirmed that they have been accepted into the Ballymena Provincial League.

    While I believe Trojans have reverted to Junior football, joining the NW Junior League.

    Not sure about Ardstraw or Maiden City, but that seems to be the end of the NI Intermediate League?

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    Capped Player nigel-harps1954's Avatar
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    By all accounts the NI Intermediate League is gone. There was chat of a non-affiliated league between some USL sides and NI Intermediate League teams but I'm not sure that's of benefit to anyone.
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    Quote Originally Posted by nigel-harps1954 View Post
    By all accounts the NI Intermediate League is gone. There was chat of a non-affiliated league between some USL sides and NI Intermediate League teams but I'm not sure that's of benefit to anyone.
    If it's non-affiliated you'd imagine it would run into some issues at some stage. For geographical reasons I could see why Inishowen/Derry/Strabane etc. would join together but it would be some can of worms to open!
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    Quote Originally Posted by JC_GUFC View Post
    So Dungannon beat Annagh in the Promotion Relegation playoff so next season in the Prem it's just Loughgall replacing Portadown.
    Correct. And despite being a village of fewer than 300 people(!), Loughgall have made an encouraging start to the Premiership, both results and crowds:
    Fri.11/08 Loughgall 3 v 2 Coleraine (Att.910)
    Tue.15/08 Loughgall 0 v 1 Glentoran (1,050)
    Fri.25/08 Loughgall 2 v 2 Glenavon (1,020)
    Sat.23/09 Loughgall 0 v 2 Linfield (1,555)
    Tue.26/09 Loughgall 1 v 0 Larne (TBA)

    Add in 2 Wins, 1 Draw and 1 Loss in Away games, and after 9 games they have 14 points, leaving them in 6th place (of 12) in the table:
    https://www.nifootballleague.com/pre...024/standings/

    Of course after the novelty has worn off, and should results also tail away, they may not sustain this progress even for this season, never mind beyond. But still, and I'm not trying to have a dig* when I say this, there must be loads of Loughgalls (or bigger) in ROI, who could make a similar contribution to the LOI First Division at least, but will never do so so long as you lack a pyramid.

    * - Well maybe just a little bit

    Quote Originally Posted by JC_GUFC View Post
    In the Championship relegation playoff Knockbreda beat Ballymacash, so the Championship have lost Loughgall (promoted) and Warrenpoint (demoted) and gained Portadown and Bangor (promoted from PiL).
    After a poor start Portadown, who were expected to "walk" the Division, have begun to find some form and currently lie 2nd with 15 points from 8 games, leaving them 3 points behind (surprise?) leaders Newington, who've Won 6 and Lost 2.
    While Bangor, who were also favoured this season, have recovered from a slow start to lie 5th, with 14 points from 8 games.
    As for Knockbreda, last season's relegation play-off victory merely seems to have delayed the inevitable: plumb bottom of the table, with zero points after 8 games and a GD of -18:
    https://www.nifootballleague.com/cha...024/standings/


    Quote Originally Posted by JC_GUFC View Post
    In the Premier Intermediate League they have gained Warrenpoint while Bangor were promoted. It will be expanded to 14 teams because of the Warrenpoint situation - so PSNI have been saved relegation and there is a 3-way playoff on going between 3 of the 4 winners of the 4 regional intermediate leagues. Newbuildings United, champions of the NI Intermediate League weren't eligible for promotion. So Rathfriland Rangers (champions of the Northern Amateur League), Coagh United (champions of the Ballymena & Provincial League) and Oxford Sunnyside (champions of the Mid Ulster League) will play a round robin tournament with the top 2 promoted to the PiL.
    The PIL has finally got under way, after a series of shenanigans involving Disputes and Appeals etc threatened to run beyond the scheduled season commencement before being settled, leading to an expanded PIL of 14 teams, which found a home for Warrenpoint, preserved PSNI from relegation and (eventually) saw Coagh United and Rathriland Rangers promoted to the division.
    With the season not starting until 26 August, and Intermediate and other regional Cup games taking priority over league fixtures, some teams have played only two league matches, others three, meaning it's too early to assess which way that division may be going, though Limavady have made a strong start:
    https://www.nifootballleague.com/pre...024/standings/

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    Quote Originally Posted by EalingGreen View Post
    Correct. And despite being a village of fewer than 300 people(!), Loughgall ......

    Of course after the novelty has worn off, and should results also tail away, they may not sustain this progress even for this season, never mind beyond. But still, and I'm not trying to have a dig* when I say this, there must be loads of Loughgalls (or bigger) in ROI, who could make a similar contribution to the LOI First Division at least, but will never do so so long as you lack a pyramid.

    * - Well maybe just a little bit
    Sure. But no harm to mention the rural location of some LOI grounds. For example, Wexford's ground is rural and a good distance outside Wexford town. Loughgall's ground is located in the 300 person village? and close to two population centers in Armagh and Portadown. Presumably Loughgall is pulling some home support from Armagh/ Portadown, and perhaps tourists add some juice to their attendance numbers as well?

    But agree a pyramid system would be preferable. And who knows, if the IFA hadn't taken 130 odd years to implement a pyramid maybe there's no FAI.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ifk101 View Post
    Sure. But no harm to mention the rural location of some LOI grounds. For example, Wexford's ground is rural and a good distance outside Wexford town. Loughgall's ground is located in the 300 person village?
    Lakeview Park is actually just outside the village, kinda - nowhere is very far from the village centre!
    https://www.google.com/maps/place/Lo...l=en&entry=ttu
    Looks to be a good wee set-up, what with the adjacent training centre and social club etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by ifk101 View Post
    ... and close to two population centers in Armagh and Portadown. Presumably Loughgall is pulling some home support from Armagh/ Portadown, and perhaps tourists add some juice to their attendance numbers as well?
    Armagh already has a Premier Intermediate club, which has previously been as high as the top tier. While Portadown currently has two teams in the Championship, Ports and Annagh, while Dungannon Swifts are only 10 miles away, with Lurgan/Glenavon not much more. Meaning that while there are nearby population centres, each is already well served by their own clubs.

    Of course they will be benfitting from the novelty factor, also the visits of the Big Two early on in the season when the weather is good etc. While there may be a few Groundhoppers and neutrals who've trotted along as well. But however you measure it, being able to attract three times the population of the whole place is pretty good (imo), even if it likely won't last.

    Quote Originally Posted by ifk101 View Post
    But agree a pyramid system would be preferable. And who knows, if the IFA hadn't taken 130 odd years to implement a pyramid maybe there's no FAI.
    Don't quite understand that last bit - the FAI broke away 41 years after the formation of the IFA i.e. long before league pyramids were a feature of professional, or semi-professional, football anywhere.
    I mean, even the English Football League (founded 1888) didn't introduce automatic promotion from non-league until 1987, and then only for one club at a time.
    Full pyramids are a relatively (stress) recent introduction to professional leagues, UK and Europe.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EalingGreen View Post
    Lakeview Park is actually just outside the village, kinda - nowhere is very far from the village centre!
    .....
    All very good but the Wexford reference was to alert you to the existence of LOI clubs (making a contribution) with a more rural/ population sparse location than Loughgall.

    Quote Originally Posted by EalingGreen View Post
    Don't quite understand that last bit - the FAI broke away 41 years after the formation of the IFA i.e. long before league pyramids were a feature of professional, or semi-professional, football anywhere.
    I mean, even the English Football League (founded 1888) didn't introduce automatic promotion from non-league until 1987, and then only for one club at a time.
    Full pyramids are a relatively (stress) recent introduction to professional leagues, UK and Europe.
    You are portraying the pyramid in the North as forward-thinking, revolutionary, and innovative, and using this portrayal to indulge in a little dig. Yet acknowledge pyramids are a recent development, the 2010/11 season in the North. While I agree pyramids systems are preferable, I’d be more interested in the player development aspect, in terms of offering a pathways to the top tier and from there senior international level. It doesn’t seem to be having a positive impact for the North in this respect, but given the short existence of the pyramid, it’s still too early to say either way.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ifk101 View Post
    All very good but the Wexford reference was to alert you to the existence of LOI clubs (making a contribution) with a more rural/ population sparse location than Loughgall.
    So Wexford's ground is outside the town. Same applies eg to Warrenpoint. I'm not sure what point you're trying to make and regardless of what it is, whose "fault" is it in either case (if the term "fault" may be applied)?

    My own simple point was that thus far, at least, Loughgall have been drawing surprisingly big crowds to their ground on the edge of a tiny village, in a region with a lot of other clubs nearby.

    Quote Originally Posted by ifk101 View Post
    You are portraying the pyramid in the North as forward-thinking, revolutionary, and innovative, and using this portrayal to indulge in a little dig. Yet acknowledge pyramids are a recent development, the 2010/11 season in the North. While I agree pyramids systems are preferable, I’d be more interested in the player development aspect, in terms of offering a pathways to the top tier and from there senior international level. It doesn’t seem to be having a positive impact for the North in this respect, but given the short existence of the pyramid, it’s still too early to say either way.
    This is shaping up to be a hot topic in NI, since NIFL Chairman Gerard Lawlor is currently promoting a new 5 Year Plan for the NIFL, the main feature of which is a switch to a summer season. And while he promises "consultation" and "agreement" etc, it seems pretty clear that his own mind is made up and he'll push it through if he can.

    In which context I am opposed, since as we've seen with the LOI, one consequence of any major switch would be to cut the Senior game off from the rest of the game in NI, thereby preventing the growth of the game outside the same small closed shop of established clubs. And whatever other benefits* which might accrue from this, and imo these are debateable, they would surely be outweighed by the overall damage this could do to the game throughout the whole of NI.

    P.S. Maybe it's me, but I still don't get your reference: "And who knows, if the IFA hadn't taken 130 odd years to implement a pyramid maybe there's no FAI.". As I said, it took the English Football League nearly 100 years to implement their own pyramid and other countries even longer. And there's no FAI what?



    * - Greater progress in Europe? The LOI's UEFA Coefficient scores suggest it hasn't been very marked, and even where this has happened, it may be more correlation than causation, stemming eg from greater professionalism, or greater player recruitment from outside Ireland.
    Bigger crowds? NIFL crowds are growing strongly as it is, so why fix it before it appears broke?
    As for player development, I'm not sure how this should inevitably be hindered by having a pyramid, or enhanced by not having one. Much more important (imo) are Coaching/Youth Development/Academies etc, i.e. before youngsters even get to experience Senior, adult football. Besides which, elite player development is hardly the sole rationale for Senior football, is it? Just look eg to the "Soup" article by a Finn Harps fan posted elsewhere on this site for a great illustration of what having a Senior football club does for a whole community. Should we be cutting that off from every other Loughgall or Ballybofey?

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    Quote Originally Posted by EalingGreen
    So Wexford's ground is outside the town ....
    Fine. The reference was in response to your initial dig comment. You can google where Wexford’s ground is in relation to the town. Warrenpoint’s pitch is in the town, no?

    Quote Originally Posted by EalingGreen
    P.S. Maybe it's me, but I still don't get your reference: ....
    An interconnected league with a ladder system of promotion/ relegation incorporating regionalisation is nothing new and was in existence elsewhere at the time of the FAI’s foundation. And yes, not a pyramid in strict interpretation. But I wonder if the Leinster Senior League as a regionalised underbelly offering promotion to/ relegation from the Irish League would have helped to address some grievances at the time, and perhaps enough to discourage the FAI’s formation. Simplistic thoughts I know – awaiting the death by text wall reply ?

    Quote Originally Posted by EalingGreen
    the rest
    Time constraints so need to summarise responses here.

    Agree switch to summer would be detrimental to the pyramid, understand your opposition.

    Feels like there is a greater player drain from the LOI than the NIFL, although don’t have statistics to support this. Also, feels as it the age profile of the typical LOI player is quite young. Considerations with an impact on results in Europe/ the coefficient. Of course, other factors at play in addition to these brief comments.

    Crowds everywhere are benefitting from a post C19 boost, no? Hopefully this increasing trend can withstand down turning economies.

    Obviously player development isn’t the be all, end all. Just personal interest as stated. The current thought in my adopted country is that football should be non-competitive up to certain age groups (12-13 years old) and playing time should be divided into small groups (3 against 3 etc) to ensure all are maximizing time on the ball. After this, academics etc can take over with teaching the mechanics of the game. Keeping the “fun” element for longer is assumed will help limit the number of teenagers falling out of the game. With more staying in the game, overall standards are expected to improve, and a pyramid in turn can help late developers to move up the system, feeding into the top tier and by extension the national team.

    Haven’t read the post you mentioned. And not to dilute the contents of that post as I haven't read it, but sports clubs are central for communities from my experience regardless of code/ level etc.

    Have a good weekend.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ifk101 View Post
    Fine. The reference was in response to your initial dig comment. You can google where Wexford’s ground is in relation to the town. Warrenpoint’s pitch is in the town, no?
    Somebody had commented elsewhere about how small a place Loughgall (pop.284) is to be hosting a top flight club. I pointed out that thus far at least, their crowds have been pretty impressive, which caused you to note that the ground of one particular LOI club, Wexford, is outside the town. As non sequiturs go, that is highly impressive; in fact I'm still baffled as to its relevance to Loughgall FC.

    You then went on to point to towns/population centres within 15 miles of Loughgall, presumably to demonstrate a large catchment area for the Lakesiders, whilst ignoring that those towns already have established Senior/Intermediate clubs of their own as an obvious alternative to supporting Loughgall. Meanwhile, the nearest towns to (ahem) Wexford with an LOI club of their own are Waterford (35 miles) and Bray (74 miles), so leaving a large catchment around Wexford (pop.21.5k) to boost their attendances from their current average of 694, no?

    Quote Originally Posted by ifk101 View Post
    An interconnected league with a ladder system of promotion/ relegation incorporating regionalisation is nothing new and was in existence elsewhere at the time of the FAI’s foundation. And yes, not a pyramid in strict interpretation
    No, not a pyramid by any interpretation, with absolutely no place amongst the myriad reasons why the FAI split from the IFA a hundred years ago. You know, many decades before pyramids were a "thing" in professional football.

    Quote Originally Posted by ifk101 View Post
    But I wonder if the Leinster Senior League as a regionalised underbelly offering promotion to/ relegation from the Irish League would have helped to address some grievances at the time, and perhaps enough to discourage the FAI’s formation. Simplistic thoughts I know – awaiting the death by text wall reply ?
    "Simplistic"? I personally would call it nonsense and suggest you refer to Cormac Moore's excellent book for further information on the situation, including the stance taken on occasion by the Leinster FA during talks aiming to heal the split:
    https://www.corkuniversitypress.com/...-soccer-split/

    Quote Originally Posted by ifk101 View Post
    Haven’t read the post you mentioned. And not to dilute the contents of that post as I haven't read it, but sports clubs are central for communities from my experience regardless of code/ level etc.
    Reproduced here: https://finnharps.ie/community-conne...soul-and-soup/

    My own view is that while the production of players for our respective NT's is a "nice to have", the rationale behind/purpose of having Senior football at clubs like Loughgall or Finn Harps is a whole lot wider than that, as Rory White's above article, or this visit by the BBC's "Football Focus" to Loughgall (below), both illustrate beautifully:
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/av/football/66970763
    (Unsure whether the 6 minute video embedded in this link is available outside the UK)

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    Quote Originally Posted by EalingGreen View Post
    …. in fact I'm still baffled as to its relevance to Loughgall FC.
    You used the example of Loughgall to muse “there must be loads of Loughgalls (or bigger) in ROI, who could make a similar contribution to the LOI First Division at least, but will never do so so long as you lack a pyramid.”

    The example of Wexford, a “more rurally” isolated club than Loughgall, is used to dismiss this comment as contribution is not solely determined by the existence/ non-existence of a pyramid. Wexford successfully sought “election” to the LOI, in much the same way Loughgall has sought election during its club history to advance itself.

    Quote Originally Posted by EalingGreen View Post
    You then went on to point to towns/population centres within 15 miles of Loughgall ……
    … to offer explanation for the 700 odd shortfall between village population of 300 and crowd numbers 1000+. Or is the away team and its support making the contribution?

    Quote Originally Posted by EalingGreen View Post
    No, not a pyramid by any interpretation, with absolutely no place amongst the myriad reasons why the FAI split from the IFA a hundred years ago. You know, many decades before pyramids were a "thing" in professional football.

    "Simplistic"? I personally would call it nonsense and suggest you refer to Cormac Moore's excellent book for further information on the situation, including the stance taken on occasion by the Leinster FA during talks aiming to heal the split:
    https://www.corkuniversitypress.com/...-soccer-split/
    The FAI formation to replace IFA arose from an internal power struggle or, more correctly, lack of power sharing. If the IFA had chosen to democratise internal structures and to limit the scope for division (perhaps making a start in addressing grievances with a league structure facilitating the game’s growth down “south”), and was mindful its remit was an all-island association and not just for mates in Belfast, maybe there is no FAI.

    Will have a read of the article and watch the video.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ifk101 View Post
    You used the example of Loughgall to muse “there must be loads of Loughgalls (or bigger) in ROI, who could make a similar contribution to the LOI First Division at least, but will never do so so long as you lack a pyramid.”
    How is my assertion incorrect? (See next reply)

    Quote Originally Posted by ifk101 View Post
    The example of Wexford, a “more rurally” isolated club than Loughgall, is used to dismiss this comment as contribution is not solely determined by the existence/ non-existence of a pyramid. Wexford successfully sought “election” to the LOI, in much the same way Loughgall has sought election during its club history to advance itself.
    Whatever happened to those two clubs in the past, my point is that in the present, there is no effective mechanism in ROI to see another Loughgall/Wexford achieve Senior status. Which is why in recent years, in order to keep numbers up in the top two tiers, the LOI has variously had (A) to admit Shamrock Rovers "B" for a season; (B) parachute in a small -Boys? - club, Cabinteely, in their place, who effectively folded after a few seasons; (C) had to go with 9 teams in the FD for a season; and (D) have had to concoct a brand new and amateur club, Kerry FC, to make league numbers up to 20, even though they've as yet been unable to compete.

    This is despite ROI having a population two and a half times that of NI, rather wealthier, and with none of the religious/political problems which blight our game. With this lack of a pyramid, and corresponding summer season, explaining why the ROI has just 16 Senior pro- or semi-pro clubs, needing two amateur clubs, a student club and another from NI to make up two 10 team divisions.

    By contrast, the IL has 24 Senior clubs, with P&R down to another 14 clubs in the PIL, some of them semi-pro, and all without by far the biggest club in NI's second city. (Where would the LOI be if eg they lost Cork City?)

    Which gets us right back to Loughgall, in that if the LOI had a proper pyramid, then the way would be open to clubs from any number of towns with considerably greater population, catchment and potential etc, to spread and develop the game throughout the entire country.


    Quote Originally Posted by ifk101 View Post
    … to offer explanation for the 700 odd shortfall between village population of 300 and crowd numbers 1000+. Or is the away team and its support making the contribution?
    Of course the great majority of support comes with the visiting teams, rather than from nearby towns, all of which have clubs of their own to support. This away support will presumably tail off as the novelty wears off as seen eg by their most recent attendance of 555 at home to Larne. The latter do not ordinarily bring many travelling fans, and are one of only a couple of Premiership clubs to have visited Loughgall in recent seasons, so no "new ground" attraction there. Further, it was also a Tuesday evening game in poor weather, on a school night, and only four days after attracting three times that crowd against Linfield.

    But my point remains, even if half of the 555 were Larne fans (generous guess?), that means the home/neutral support will still have been somewhere equal to the entire population of the village. Of course no-one expects Wexford to attract 21k fans every week(!), but even 5% of that would be an improvement. Or does nobody in the town have a car in which to drive all the way out to the ground, maybe carrying a couple of mates with them?

    Quote Originally Posted by ifk101 View Post
    The FAI formation to replace IFA arose from an internal power struggle or, more correctly, lack of power sharing. If the IFA had chosen to democratise internal structures and to limit the scope for division (perhaps making a start in addressing grievances with a league structure facilitating the game’s growth down “south”), and was mindful its remit was an all-island association and not just for mates in Belfast, maybe there is no FAI.

    Will have a read of the article and watch the video.
    Read Cormac Moore's book, and you'll see that whatever the many reasons for the breakaway, the absence of an IL pyramid, decades before any such was introduced anywhere, was never one of them.

    Otherwise the FAI/LOI would have introduced one of their own when in a position to do so! Yet still we're waiting, 101 years later...

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    Loughgall have a German gk, Berraat Turker playing for them and ZDF (German equivalent of BBC or RTE) recently sent a film crew to Loughgall to take a look at the club. Bits are in German, but the rest is in English:


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    Warrenpoints ground is about a 20/25 min walk from the town. They also would struggle to make 100 fans at a home game while in the premiership while are currently getting about 40 at the current PIL games. Their away attendance is pretty much non existent but the attendance at the games are due to other aspects in the town.

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