Saturday, January 19, 2013

League of Ireland stadium redevelopement

The League of Ireland When I look at the League of Ireland (LOI) I see a very weak league in terms of finance and attendance. Over the last 3 years the league average attendance has been about 1,650 per season. This average is well below the big Leagues in Ireland. Only twice did the league break over 2,000 averages (2003 and 09 in the last 12 years). I do not see this attendance rising dramatically in the next few years unless something dramatic happens. The LOI clubs only have a limited budget for contracts with their players. Many clubs release almost all their players once the season is over. The players go on the dole until the next season starts up. During this huge transition many players can choose themselves what club they want to play for. This creates instability with each club when there is such a huge turnover. There are plenty of Irish soccer fans but they would rather watch the English Premier League on television. Many fans cross the Irish Sea to attend games in England. Ireland is bombarded with Sky Sports who promote the multimillion dollar Premier League and their clubs. The LOI is like a 2nd or 3rd tier league compared to the English Premier league. Another big problem the league has is their dilapidated stadiums throughout the league. These stadiums just do not give the fans a comfortable and desirable setting to double attendance. The reason why I have been following the league is because of the potential I see in the league. Soccer is the number one sport played in the country. It (Soccer) is probably the most watched (English Premier League) on TV. The league is starting to address some of these issues.
Stadiums Improvement Shamrock Rovers built their own 6,000 seat stadium in Tallaght, Dublin. Tallaght is the best LOI stadium for soccer. Shamrock Rovers have had the best attendance in the league since Tallaght Stadium opened in 2009. Turners Cross in Cork redeveloped their stadium in 2009. The Cross seats 7,365 and is the only stadium that has covering for all the seats (the other being Aviva Stadium). Cork City F.C. lead the league in attendance before Tallaght was built. Cork also had an average of 2,764 in 2012 and they were never the 1st place club. Cork has a tremendous following. Cork City F.C. is also owner by their fans.
Sligo Rovers F.C. are the reigning Champions of the League. They stayed in 1st place for most of 2012. They had the second most attendance with over 3,000 (3,007). They play in the very cozy stadium called the Showgrounds. The mist recent development of the Showgrounds was the new Volkswagon Bank End stand with 1,300 seats. This replaces the former railway End terrace. The cost was 200,000 Euro’s and this increases total seating to 4,000. This is also one of the better stadiums. Athlone Town Stadium is another newer stadium with 2,500 seating capacity. This stadium was built in 2007.
This is the new Volkswagon End of the stadium. Derry City received money to renovate their stadium from the British government. Northern Ireland received money to redeveloped their stadiums and the Brandywell will get a piece of this. Derry City F.C. is also owned by their fans and have one of the more popular teams in terms of attendance. Drogheda United F.C. is about to announce the building of a new stadium. Officials there want a new stadium since they believe that the Leagur of Ireland and the Northern Irish League will soon become one league. This new league will have restrictions on clubs that just do not have the stadium requirements. Limerick F.C. will be playing in the beautiful Rugby stadium of Thomond Park until Markets Fields is renovated. Money is in short supply however the clubs that are owned by their fans are putting up the monies to redevelope their stadiums.