Sunday, June 24, 2012

Ireland's infrastructure and venues for Euro 2020

Ireland’s asset to Euro 2020



Croke Park

Aviva Stadium

Pairc Ui Chaoimh

Thomond Park
Pearce Stadium

            The 3 nations (Scotland, Ireland and Wales) have entered into an endeavor to win the Euro 2020 tournament. Can the 3 nations work together and accomplish this task? All 3 nations area about similar in size, population and each have one huge city. I would imagine that Euro officials would like each country to host in at least 2 different cities. This would give the Celtic Bid at least 6 cities to market their bid. Most guess Euro officials would also want  9 to 10 stadiums. With only 3 bids to pick from Euro officials may just take the best option. The question becomes how attractive can the Celtic Bid be.
            Since there are now 24 nations (expanded in 2016) that will mean there will be 6 groups of 4 teams. FIFA World Cup USA 1994 had 24 nations. This World Cup also only had 9 venues. Group A&B shared 3 venues, Group C&D shares 3 venues and Groups E&F shared 3 venues. I would imagine the Celtic nations will take a similar approach. Each Celtic nation would want to host at least 2 groups apiece if at all possible. That will mean each nation will only have to come up with 3 stadiums each. That would mean 2 stadiums in each of the largest cities (Glasgow, Dublin and Cardiff) and one more stadium in another City. Edinberg for Scotland, Limerick for Ireland and Swansea for Wales.
Ireland’s infrastructure

Luas Tram in Dublin Add caption
Ireland has a quick look at Ireland.  Ireland announced Transport 21 which is a 34 Billion dollar Euro investment into the motorways and public transportation (buses and rail). Ireland has a new motorway system that branches out from Dublin to all the main cities of (Galway, Limerick and Cork).
            Dublin's transit system utilizes electrified suburban trains, diesel commuter rail, trams and an extensive bus network to provide service to the population of the Greater Dublin Area. Pictured above is the new and popular Luas light train tram in Dublin. The Luas reached profitability ahead of schedule, after only 1 year of operation. Successful infrastructure improvement in Dublin is very attractive.                  
            This new rail system in Dublin and Ireland’s new motorway throughout Ireland will score very high in the bid. Ireland also has the accommodations will score very high in this area also. Euro officials do not like more than one venue in a major city however if fans can get to venues then exceptions will be made.                     
 Ireland has the hotel space because a huge part of their economy is tourism.  My feeling is that the Republic of Ireland would want to host 2 groups in at least 2 different cities. This tournament would be great for Ireland for something to look forward to. This tournament would provide a great economic shot in the arm for the depressed economy.
Ireland has the infrastructure, the passionate fans base, a good history of soccer. This is the most expensive part however Ireland already has the road and rail network. Ireland just has to come up with 3 viable stadiums.
Irelands Stadiums
            Ireland’s national soccer team stadium plays Aviva Stadium. This stadium is located in their top market of Dublin. Aviva Stadium is owned by the FAI and Irish Rugby Football Union  (IRFU). The FAI should be able to feature this stadium as the Irish showpiece. This stadium is the best stadium in Ireland and one of the best in the Celtic Bid. This stadium was open in 2010 and is state of the art. The Dublin Arena has seating capacity for 51,700 spectators. The FAI, Euro officials and other national teams would want to play here.
            Since over 35% of the Irish population lives in the Dublin Urban area, it is safe to say that FAI would want a second stadium in Dublin.                                                                                         
            The other stadium in Dublin is the famous Croke Park. Croke Park is owned by the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA.). The GAA does not like foreign sports (like Soccer) to be played on their grounds. It could take away from their Celtic sport. The GAA has since relaxed this attitude over time and now is a bit more open to engage in talks with the FAI over this issue. The GAA has let the FAI play international games be played in Croke Park when the old Lansdowne Stadium was demolished and Aviva built.  However a game is one thing, a tournament is a different story. I can see the GAA negotiate for a game or 2 but a tournament that could take as long as a month is a completely different story. Croke Park is the best GAA stadium by far in Ireland. This is Irelands Super Bowl of Stadiums. I believe the FAI, a marketing team; the Rep of Ireland tourism department must persuade the GAA to allow soccer to be played here. This tournament would be great for Ireland especially Dublin.                                                                                                            
 No other stadium even comes close to it’s size or wonderful design or experience. Croke holds a whopping 82,300 which is the 4th largest stadium in Europe. This stadium would be great for the FAI to fulfill their part in providing at least 3 stadiums.                                                                            
Limerick and Cork                                                    
            Since I believe the games should encompass all of Ireland I am hoping for another stadium in another city. Dublin is the biggest city, (Belfast and Derry are in Northern Ireland) Cork is the second, and Limerick has the 3rd largest population.
            Thomond Park is a brand new (2008) stadium in Limerick. This is a Rugby stadium however a soccer match would play well in these confines. Thomond Park has already been mentioned by the FAI as a venue that is very attractive to them. This makes for a great atmosphere and comfortable seating. It would be a very enjoyable experience to get into this new stadium. Thomond Park has the seating capacity of 26,500. Temporary stands in each end zone could increase it to meet EURO requirement of 30k. This would be a great city that would greatly benefit the area if the Euro’s were held there. The IRFU owns this so negotiating with them for its use is imminent. This would be a terrific location and a great stadium to host as Ireland 3rd venue.
            There is a rail line that cost about $64 to get from Dublin to Limerick. This trip only take 2 hours and 12 minutes. This would provide fans very accommodating transportation and a great price. A car ride would take about the same amount of time with the new motorway.
            At this point there these are my 3 front runners for Ireland to host 3 groups. We could always speculate about another possible venue if Thomond Park or Croke Park falls through.
            Ireland could also look to Pairc Ui Chaomh Stadium in Cork. Pairc Ui Chaomh is looking to do a complete 40 Million remodel the stadium, which would be funded by the GAA.. Work could begin as soon as this year. The GAA owns this stadium and they are looking to expand the stadium to 50,000, making it the 4th largest in Ireland. This stadium could be used as one of the 3 venues for Wales, which may have difficulty having 3 stadiums. Cork was a ferry to Wales so logistics would be worked out. Cork would benefit greatly from this tournament. Having 8 of the best nations in Europe play in Cork and  have their fans travel there would be great for the City.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Ireland was robber again!

Why does it seem that Ireland always get's the bad calls. These are just not bad calls there are blatant, unjust and border on a conspiracy against Ireland. This blue player is clearly offsides, there is not even a question. This was not close.

This reminds me of the non Henry offside and hand ball not once but twice that went against Ireland.

This also reminds me of the 2000 US Cup. This was a 4 nation tournament with USA, Mexico, Ireland and S Africa. The Irish had the lead 1-0 against USA in the second game. All the Irish had to do was beat the leaker South Africa nation to win the tournament. The Irish retained their lead until Ante Razov evened the match with a controversial goal. Earnie Stewart hit a clearly off-side Razov who scored as the Irish players stood still anticipating that the referee would whistle the ball dead. Instead, the referee and linesmen, all from Mexico, allowed the goal. The Irish hinted after the game that there was a conspiracy to have either USA or Mexico wins this tournament. Ireland did beat South Africa but lost the tournament to the USA….because of this non call.                                                                                                                                           

 This was the last of 7 successful tournaments because the lack of professionalism and fan pessimism as to the legitimacy of the refs and honesty of the tournament. It was a shame sine the Irish national team had great fan support in the states.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Ireland is buzzing

There are an estimated 20,000 Irish fans traveling to poland. The nation will be watching all their games. Most Irish are quite pessemistic about thier chances of qualifying.

Their group has the #1 ranked Spain.

Spain has top stars at almost every position. Fernando Torres at Striker, the midfield has David Silva and xavi Hernandez who dominate the middle of any field and Febregas. Their midfield will work well agains any 4-4-2 system. Spain should go through just on talent. So it is a guess as to who else qualifies.

Italy is in the mist of a gambeling scandel in their home country. The players could rally to each other or be distracted with the constant questions. They open agains Spain so we will see how they respond.

Croatia has those unforgetable red and white square uniforms. Do not let these uniforms underestimate this team. Croatia has the injury bug:  Ivo Iličević is out while Vedran Ćorluka also limped out of this afternoon's training session because of a muscle strain. Watch for winger Darijo Srna to attack from the right side with great tatical efficiency.

Ireland is a defensive powerhouse that no one wants to face. When you play Ireland who know it because of the tackeling and stubborn defense. They are now unbeaten in 14 matches. Their solid defense centers aroung Dunn in the middle. their attack will come from their wide winerrs Duff and McGeady who will place nice crosses in...however ti will be up to their FW to get a head on it since the Defence will rarely chance being out of shape. LA Galaxy Robbie Keane is the scoring machine who will drop back and go after any loose ball in the box.

Lacking in some areas.

City Metro

1.110 ,627

Dublin City
South Dublin
Derry (Northern )


Northern Ireland

Total Clubs


                Here in the states, MLS placed clubs in the biggest marketing cities (New York, LA, Chicago ect.).  The Republic of Ireland’s population is about 4,722,000 (Million) according to the CIA estimate. Looking at Ireland’s cities, we can see there is Dublin and the rest. Dublin’s population makes up over 35% of the Republic of Ireland’s population. Viewing population wise only there are 4 locations the League of Ireland is lacking exposure in. These locations are Fingal(Dublin county), Limerick, Galway and Cork.
Dublin County is broken into 4 areas. These areas are Dublin City, South Dublin, Dun Laoghaire-Rahttown and Fingal. Each section/area has about 250,000 people except the city which has over 500,000. Dublin City (1) already has supported 2 famous clubs in Bohemians F.C and Shelbourne F.C. With a ½ million people to draw from these two clubs had withstood the test of time. Bohemians F.C. are located in (Philisborough) and Shelbourne F.C. is located in Drumcondra. This is a great local derby in the inner city of Dublin.                                                             
Then there are 2 clubs in South Dublin (4) across the Liffey River. The Shamrock Rovers are located in Tallaght (Tallaght is about 75,000 population) while St. Patrick’s Athletic F.C. in located in Inchicore. The Shamrock Rovers have the best attendance the last 2 years. St. Pat’s are usually at the league average in attendance. This area of Dublin is spoken for. These are your 4 big clubs in the League of Ireland that tend to have the best derbies and largest crowds.                                                                                       
 The 3th section of Dublin is called Rathtown(2) located south east of Dublin City along the coast. Dun Laughaire-Rathtown has many towns and this is where Belfield is located. Belfield has the main campus of the University College of Dublin (UCD). This is also where the students have their stadium. UCD is not supported by the local community like the other clubs. UCD relies on the students of the college to support them. UCD usually has the lowest attendance every year because of this. UCD is in the premier league because they have a competitive club.                                                                                                                        
 The last part of Dublin County is north of Dublin City called Fingal (3). The population of Fingal has about (273,051). Fingal’s population is more than South Dublin.  There was a club that started in Sporting Fingal. Sporting Fingal was in the League of Ireland from 2008 to 2010. This was great to see a club in this part of Dublin. The city council had ideas of building a stadium in 2008 that would have Sporting Fingal as their main tenant.  Sporting Fingal unfortunately had an average attendance of only 917. Fingal has since dropped out of the League of Ireland and no more plans for a stadium have materialized. At this time Fingal does not even have a club in the U-19 league.  The league needs supporters and they just do not seem organized enough in this area yet. There was even talk of building a stadium for Bohemians F.C. in this area but not word yet on this development. I believe Fingal would be a good location for a League of Ireland needs exposure in. Fingal would also create another derby for the Dublin clubs.  
            The second largest city is Cork. Cork City is the Rep. of Ireland’s 2nd largest population.  Cork City tallies in at over 198,582 however Greater Cork population is close to 400,000. This city can compete against the big Dublin clubs (attendance wise). Cork City F.C. does outstanding in attendance. The lead the league in attendance in 5 of the last 6 years they were in the Premier Division. Is it time to explore maybe a second club from the City? Let’s say Cork United was reintroduced. Cork United could also take the 5 past Championship (1941, 1942, 1943, 1945, 1946.) to add to their resume.  Maybe Cork Athletic could be revised with their 2 past championships. Either one of these clubs would instantly be a club with interest. Cork United/Athletic could mimic the success Cork City F.C. by gaining supporters. A great aspect aspect of this is that Cork City would double its chances of having a club in the Premier League each year. Blarney United and Everton are clubs from the Cork City area. Blarney play in the Munster senior league.  Could either one of these clubs get enough supporters to join the league?  This is an idea to ponder. A second club out of the 2nd largest city in the Republic of Ireland could create a great derby outside of Dublin. This local derby Cork City F.C. vs. Cork City F.C. United could also create great interest with in Cork City. It could be possible to also share Turners Cross so each week Cork City would be hosting a League of Ireland game.                                   
Limerick is the 3rd largest City in the Republic but it is not represented in the Premier league. Limerick Population comes in at 91,454 (Wikipedia figure). Limerick is located is a strategic location ½ way between Cork and Galway. Limerick ties the 3 big southern cities (Galway-Limerick-Cork) together. I think it is important to have a competitive club from this city, year in and year out. Limerick presently has a competitive club in 2nd place in the First Division.                                                                                                                                
 Limerick got a great boost for a local business man. The old spiritual ground of The Market’s Field was purchased for the club. There is also a proposal to refurbish the stadium however nothing has materialized yet. Limerick is the best chance to place a club in the Premier League next year. This would be great for exposure for the league to have a club in this vital city.                                                                                                                                                                 Galway is your 4th largest city in the Republic of Ireland. Galway is located on the West coast right in the middle of Ireland. Galway is directly west of Dublin. Galway is situated in an essential location for a club for the League. Galway connects the 2 big southern cities of Limerick and Cork to Derry City in the North. It is a 2 hrs and 10 min from Galway to Dublin. Travel to Cork City is 2hrs & 35min. Galway is the gateway that connects the west coast cities to Ireland. Presently Galway has 2 clubs floundering in the First Division. Floundering both in attendance (interest) and play wise (bottom of the table). They are SD Galway and Mervue United. The supporters, Galway United Supporter Trust (GUST) wanted a club to run for themselves. They applied for a license in 2012 but were denied by the FAI. (Who now run the League of Ireland). The old Galway United directors folded the old team. However it was GUST who ran the club the last year.  These supporters, I am hoping, will again apply for a license and have a club of their own. It question becomes, Will the FAI hold GUST responsible for the collapse of Galway United and not risk granting a license to volatile entity.                                       
 The FAI must realize it is the supporters are who make the league. Without supporters/fans/interest the clubs disappear (Sporting Fingal, Cork City, Derry City F.C. ….). Galway has as much of a population at Tallaght does. We all know how many supporters the Shamrock Rovers have. It is not only important to have a club in the Premier Division but a club that can be competitive and stay in the Premier League. I am hoping GUST is granted the license and Galway United is playing next year. I believe GUST will get the fans, supporters and the local businesses and community to back this club. The league needs a club from this vital area.                                                                                                                                                          
 There is a bit of a drop off after Galway however Waterford, Dundalk and Drogheda each have found supporters and success in the league.  These other locations are a essential part of the league. These 3 have done a very good job fielding quality clubs over time in the league. Dundalk F.C. has 9 League of Ireland Titles and 9 FAI Cups. Drogheda United recently won the FAI Cup in 2005. Then they won the Setanta Cups in 2006 and 2007. Drogheda finally won their first title in the League of Ireland Championship in 2007. Waterford has 6 League of Ireland Championships and 2 FAI Cups. These clubs are great when they challenge the Dublin clubs for the hardware.
            The city/towns get a lot smaller from here. Clubs from Sligo, Bray Wanders and the like are good additions but nothing like the big cities. It would be nice to have a club represent these large urban areas of Ireland.                                                                                                      
 Derry City has a population at about 83,699 which would place them 4th largest in Ireland behind Dublin, Belfast; Cork City F.C.) Derry City is located in Northern Ireland however they play in League of Ireland. Derry City F.C. has a “good” supporters group that following their club. They have had outstanding travelers when they entered into the Europa League. I can not see Derry City supporting a second club at this time.                                                                      
 Locations like Fingal, Limerick, Galway and possibly a second club in Cork City are highly populated area in Ireland that could be good for the league.