Ahern calls for All-Ireland football team

Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern has called for the IFA and FAI to amalgamate and an All-Ireland league established. However, the status quo seems to be ok for the FAI who are content to:

strengthen the co-operation and development links that are already established with the IFA.

A NI fans spokesperson said:

We’ve had good times and bad times, but we’re quite happy with our lot

UPDATE It is reported in today’s Sunday Life that such a proposal is impossible under FIFA rules.PS I am looking feedback on my blogging here.

  • Realist

    The Football Association of Ireland has issued the following statement in response to remarks made by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern, TD, at the Soccer Writers’ Association of Ireland Annual Banquet in Dundalk tonight.

    Statement

    There is already a very high degree of positive co-operation between the Football Association of Ireland and the Irish Football Association and it is growing year by year.

    We are already in the third year of the Setanta Sports Cup which is an All-Ireland club competition that expanded from six to eight teams last year and is a huge success.

    The respective executive teams from the FAI and the IFA meet regularly to discuss a wide range of areas of mutual interest.

    At UEFA level the two associations collaborate for the good of Irish football and we continually assess, with our colleagues in the IFA, every relevant issue that impacts on football on both sides of the border.

    The FAI intends continuing to strengthen the co-operation and development links that are already established with the IFA.

    ENDS

  • Realist

    true fan,

    Would you support the establishment of an all UK team?

    By the way, the Union Flag does not fly in any official capacity at Northern Ireland international fixtures.

    You would be well served not to impose your “national identity” and “culture” upon others.

    Many of us go to matches to support players representing Northern Ireland, nothing more, nothing less – those players come from differing “cultures”.

    Not all are of “unionist identity”.

    If you want to express your “unionist identity”, set up a petition for a combined UK team and put it to the Northern Ireland fanbase.

    You’ll get the same message as Dermot.

  • BP1078

    Very Curious

    I personally couldn’t care less if/when some Ni fans act or behave badly, its water off a ducks back, all they do is disgrace themselves in the eyes of the wider world. They don’t achieve anything for themselves.

    That’s a strange non-sequiter, from the rest of your comment…but anyway,

    This is not the first time Mr Ahern has made comments that have upset people in Northern Ireland

    It’s the truth, his statement upset people in NI, Boyce didn’t specify “all” the people in NI.

    Given that the ROI team represents all those in the Republic and also northern nationalists then the ni soccer team really is a team for the Unionist people of ni.

    Ah, I see, at least you’re not making a claim that the ROI team represents all the people of Ireland, it’s for Southerners and Northern Nationalists only.
    Does that include their selection policy also? How many players from a “non-nationalist” background in NI have they approached do you think?

    Thats its raison d’etre and thats fair enough but please stop the bewildered protesting as to why nationalists won’t support your team.

    How can I put this politely?
    Don’t overestimate your importance in the wider scheme of things.
    I couldn’t personally give a flying fxxk if you or other nationalists support my team-if your politics dictate otherwise, then support the team that plays in Dublin instead of the one in Belfast. But be honest for your reasons for doing so.

    I support the FFA campaign because I want to enjoy myself watching NI games minus sectarian and racist chanting and behaviour. If as a side result, others who haven’t felt comfortable before start to watch the team then thats’s a very welcome added bonus.

    Quite clearly (as the videos “norman and co” delight in posting show) it has not yet achieved 100% success in its aims. The point is at least some of us are actually working towards combating sectarianism in sport, as opposed to sitting in our backside and making snide comments.

    What have the likes of yourself, Billy, Grimsey and norman (in his various guises) done to combat sectarianism in sport…or maybe you think you haven’t got a problem??

    (Think very carefully before you answer that last question)

  • Realist

    BP1078,

    As you well know, the Billys and Normans of this world delight in sectarianism.

    They recoil in mock outrage at sectarianism coming from unionist inclined football fans, but ignore sectarianism that comes from nationalist inclined fans.

    Such people have nothing to offer in the battle to eradicate sectarianism, from wherever it comes. Nothing at all.

    “I couldn’t personally give a flying fxxk if you or other nationalists support my team-if your politics dictate otherwise, then support the team that plays in Dublin instead of the one in Belfast. But be honest for your reasons for doing so.”

    Nail, head, hit.

  • I’m a person in NI and Mr. Ahern’s comments certainly haven’t upset me, i think Mr. Boyce means, of course, the Unionist people in Northern Ireland. Given that the ROI team represents all those in the Republic and also northern nationalists then the ni soccer team really is a team for the Unionist people of ni.

    Very very true, very curious.

    Objectively, a tiny island in the world having two football teams cometing internationally is very silly, but the NI team is very close to the heart of the unionist/protestant people of the North.
    Roughly 85% of the island support the Republic, lets leave the other 15% support the North. I’m also delighted to see more and more northern players declaring for the republic. After all they feel Irish and they don’t certainly feel “British” with all the empire trappings of the Union Jacks and God save the Queen. A loyal team for a loyal people. By the way is Mick Fealty a pseudonym? with the Mick part for the fenians and the Fealty part for the huns? (I’m not trying to be insulting Mick, just curious)

  • true fan

    ‘By the way, the Union Flag does not fly in any official capacity at Northern Ireland international fixtures’

    Maybe not, Realist, but there’s plenty of them in the stands carried by supporters-it’s no crime is it?

    People like you are so busy pandering to the media, that you try to disguise the true identity held by our supporters. One of the beggars put a clip on of our fans singing The Sash before the Wales game. If he done this to embarrass us, then’s he’s made a fool of himself. As I said earler, The Sash is part of our heritage and does not contain any objectionable lyrics.-That’s why we sing it.
    The reality is that the team in Dublin draws its support from Northern Catholics as well as Tuderners. That’s their choice. If it leaves only Northern Protestants choosing to support NI, then why should we not express thatidentity .

    Do Croatia supporters choose not to fly their colours for fear of upsetting their Serb neighbours-not bloody likely-same differencve or what?

  • BP1078

    true fan

    If it leaves only Northern Protestants choosing to support NI, then why should we not express thatidentity

    Which identity is more important to you, your “Northern Protestant” one or your Northern Irish one?

  • true fan

    Northern Protestant

  • Realist

    True Fan,

    “there’s plenty of them in the stands carried by supporters-it’s no crime is it?

    Comparatively few, and ever decreasing.

    No, it’s not a crime.

    Do the carriers of these Union Flags favour an all UK side?

    “People like you are so busy pandering to the media, that you try to disguise the true identity held by our supporters”

    What would that identity be?

    The only identity I choose to express at a Northern Ireland match, is my support for a Northern Ireland team.

    “The Sash is part of our heritage and does not contain any objectionable lyrics.-That’s why we sing it”

    Good for you.

    I believe there are other reasons why you sing it, all surrounding insecurities about your identity.

    Thankfully, we have not had to listen to “The Sash” inside the stadium at Northern Ireland games for quite some time.

    “The reality is that the team in Dublin draws its support from Northern Catholics as well as Tuderners. That’s their choice. If it leaves only Northern Protestants choosing to support NI, then why should we not express thatidentity”

    What has anybodies religion got to do with it?

    If you wish to express your “protestantism”, I would respectfully suggest that you try Church – not Northern Ireland matches.

    Our teams (ie. what you are there to support) at all levels, always have, do, and always will, contain players of differing religions and none.

    I think you’ll find that “true fans” couldn’t give a flying one about tiny differences of interpretation about two very similar strands of exactly the same religion.

    We go to matches to watch footballers from our part of the world play football – not to engage in theological discussion about which player believes in.

    Now, do you support the concept of an all UK side?

  • grimesy

    Corkman,

    “By the way is Mick Fealty a pseudonym? with the Mick part for the fenians and the Fealty part for the huns? (I’m not trying to be insulting Mick, just curious)”

    What sorta langer are you boy, eh?!!

    Google the chap’s name & you’ll find Mick’s occupation pretty quickly…

    To think that he delibrately chose a “green” christan name & “orange” surname…the “Whole in the Hall Gang” wouldn’t even stoop that low!

    The booze in Mutton Lane must be gone-off…

  • true fan

    ‘Thankfully, we have not had to listen to “The Sash” inside the stadium at Northern Ireland games for quite some time. ‘

    No but it is sung with pride and gusto at all away games and on the march down from Hunters to Windsor, as you well know.

    Deny this and you are a liar.

    I would prefer a UK team to an All-Ireland Team

  • Realist

    True Fan,

    “No but it is sung with pride and gusto at all away games and on the march down from Hunters to Windsor, as you well know.

    Deny this and you are a liar”

    Well, let me see.

    It certainly wasn’t sung by anyone when we travelled to Armenia, the Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Leichtenstein , the Caribbean, Switzerland and Estonia in recent years.

    But then, I guess “true fans” wouldn’t go to such matches.

    I remember on a recent trip to Poland, a Northern Ireland fan entered a sports bar where a hundred or so Northern Ireland fans were enjoying themselves, singing etc.

    He tried to start up “The Sash” and was greeted by a chants of “Spot the Looney” and “On your own”. He left with a red face.

    It hasn’t been sung inside ANY stadium in which Northern Ireland have been playing for quite some time.

    Should it occur inside a stadium again, it’ll be drowned out.

    What people do in pubs and clubs away from the stadium is entirely up to them.

    If you think that being a Northern Ireland supporter is an expression of “Protestantism”, you are deluded.

    You say you would prefer an all UK team to an All Ireland team.

    I think you’ll find that the vast majority of Northern Ireland fans would prefer just to support a Northern Ireland team.

    I was just wondering – how many Scotland and Wales fans carry Union Flags at their matches?

    Come to think of it, they don’t use GSTQ either.

    I don’t think it’ll be long before England use a new anthem too.

    Sooner we have our own, unique, Northern Irish sporting anthem the better.

    But hey, don’t let that detract from your delusion that the Northern Ireland team is a “Protestant team, for a Protestant people” 🙂

  • John East Belfast

    very curious

    “The thing is John, I live in Northern Ireland now, and I am as good a citizen as any but don’t expect me to give up my politcal aspirations.

    There is a state to the south to which I give my allegiance”

    My theory on northern nationalists is that when it comes to six counties competing with the 26 counties on any sphere other than Gaelic sports then northren nationalists will support the latter everytime.

    Does that make that person a good citisen of NI ?
    There is more to being a good citisen than paying your taxes.

    Let me ask you this.

    Let’s say Microsoft are considering a major multi billion investment in Ireland – they cant make up their mind on one site in NI and five in the ROI. Let us also say that each site is of equal radius from your own home.

    Where in the pecking order of 6 would you personally place the NI site ?

    Its a pretty simple question so give me your heart reaction please.

  • grimesy

    JEB,

    Interesting poser.

    Joe Macri (Intel’s Irish Head) stated this week that RoI’s rising cost base is fuelling wage demands, thus pressurising the South’s remaining competitive advantage – low corporation taxation.

  • John East Belfast

    grimesy

    I think it is an interesting poser too – I have asked it before and only ever got one answer from a Republican who said he would wish it to go to the ROI.

    A bit like Gerry Kelly wanting England to beat NI.

    ie anyone but the state they live in.

  • BP1078

    True fan
    I asked:

    “Which identity is more important to you, your “Northern Protestant” one or your Northern Irish one? ”

    You answered:

    “Northern Protestant”

    Nothing whatsoever wrong with that.
    But I’m curious. Over the last few years, many(eg Billy Hutchinson) who would think the same way have felt more comfortable supporting England than to continue with N.Ireland. Thye felt their identity, be it British, Loyalist, N.Protestant or whatever, is better accomodated within the England support.

    As a result, we’ve a lot less Rangers shirts at games now, less Union jacks and most of us are content and proud to wear *the green*.

    My question is with all these changes and things like FFA, why have you continued to support NI?

  • kensei

    “Ah, I see, at least you’re not making a claim that the ROI team represents all the people of Ireland, it’s for Southerners and Northern Nationalists only.
    Does that include their selection policy also? How many players from a “non-nationalist” background in NI have they approached do you think?”

    If you are going to engage in this, don’t ask so fucking stupid questions. How many non Nationalists want to play for the Republic?

    “I think it is an interesting poser too – I have asked it before and only ever got one answer from a Republican who said he would wish it to go to the ROI.”

    Lies, I have answered it ast least twice, and I said that ti would depend on the precise nature of what is being offered – for example, if it was going to Dublin or Belfast I’d prefer Belfast, but if the choice was Ballymena or Derry I’d prefer Dublin, because that’s where I would rather work. And if it didn’t directly impact me, I wouldn’t care as long as it comes to Ireland.

  • easter1916

    Was it not the dieing wish of George Best to see the island of Ireland and it´s two football teams united as one.

    I am told that he even asked for a priest to hear his last rights, I am currently writing a folk song on this topic and hope to up load it soon on you tube.

    If George thought this why don´t the rest of the prodesons do the same.

  • John East Belfast

    kensei

    “Lies, I have answered it ast least twice, and I said that ti would depend on the precise nature of what is being offered – for example, if it was going to Dublin or Belfast I’d prefer Belfast, but if the choice was Ballymena or Derry I’d prefer Dublin, because that’s where I would rather work. And if it didn’t directly impact me, I wouldn’t care as long as it comes to Ireland.”

    now that you have answered it 3 times I still dont know what you mean

    It really is a simple question

    Do you want ROI or NI to prosper more ?

    You cant say you dont care if NI propsers or not if you live there – surely ?

  • kensei

    “now that you have answered it 3 times I still dont know what you mean”

    You asked if I preferred investment to go North or South. I said it would depend where North or South and if it made any difference to me.

    “It really is a simple question

    Do you want ROI or NI to prosper more ?

    You cant say you dont care if NI propsers or not if you live there – surely ?”

    That is a different question. I want both parts of the island to prosper and unite. The “prosper” bit really is helpful in the event of unification particularly if the economies get in sync. So again, it would depend on the precise circumstances and overall conditions in both parts of the island. You keep pushing a distinction that means nothing to me.

    Though I tend to prefer Belfast winning than anywhere else, anyway.

  • John East Belfast

    kensei

    ok lets say SF have the Ministry for Enterprise in the next Assembly.

    Microsoft are faced with the dilemma I was talking about.
    Would you expect that SF Minister to be working his ass off to ensure that NI gets that investment as opposed to ROI ?

  • BP1078

    If you are going to engage in this, don’t ask so fucking stupid questions. How many non Nationalists want to play for the Republic?

    An international team checks the eligibility of those entitled to play for it.
    They select player.
    At that stage the player decides whether to play for them or not.
    All players born in NI are eligible to play for the ROI.

    Why are only players from a certain background selected by the ROI-are they better players?

  • kensei

    “An international team checks the eligibility of those entitled to play for it.
    They select player.
    At that stage the player decides whether to play for them or not.
    All players born in NI are eligible to play for the ROI.

    Why are only players from a certain background selected by the ROI-are they better players? ”

    Why approach people to whom the mere question might be an insult and might end up in a political shit storm? This is the fucking stupidest piece of whatboutery I’ve ever seen. But, sure, I am happy for the Republic to take every player that wants to come and if that means as a matter of course contacting every decent player that is eligible, then they should go for it.

    “Would you expect that SF Minister to be working his ass off to ensure that NI gets that investment as opposed to ROI ?”

    That would be his bloody job, wouldn’t it. I would expect any SF representatives in the South who were effected to be pushing their case at the same time, or people from Belfast arguing with people from Derry.

  • rab

    “Why are only players from a certain background selected by the ROI-are they better players?”

    I presume unionist players would rather play for the unionist team.

    Its a players choice as to who he feels best represents him internationally, and its clear that it’s the players who have forced the FAI to end its unwritten agreement with the IFA over selection, thus, the growing numbers of players from the north playing for Ireland at international level.

    Interesting also that the Derry City chairman basically called Jim Boyce a liar after his outburst yesterday.

    Boyce claimed there was no appetite for an all ireland league, while The Derry chairman said he had held discussions with several Irish League chairmen over the setting up of an all ireland league(and all were in favour) and that Boyce was fully aware of this.

  • willowfield

    BILLY

    Many Catholic people who were also foolish enough to attend NI matches in the 70’s 80’s and 90’s have posted on this site with experiences exactly the same as mine. So, we made it all up did we? – that’s all right then. NI didn’t have loads of fans in Rangers or Linfield tops (especially on the Spion Kop). There were not frequent renditions of the Sash, the Billy Boys and other disgusting anti-Catholic songs …

    Nice try at evasion. No-one claimed that there were no sectarian songs sung in the past.

    Why don’t you have the integrity to admit that you told lies when you said that “the IFA only started trying to deal with this in the spotlight of worldwide bad publicity over the Neil Lennon death threats”?

    And why don’t you admit that you lied when you said that until the Neil Lennon incident “Renditions of the Sash, Billy Boys and various other anti-Catholic songs were commonplace”?

    Of course, it all culminated in the death threats to Neil Lennon. Since then, the IFA has taken action.

    The action began a number of years before Lennon received death threats. Stop repeating your lies.

    If I and other Catholic posters made all this up, why have the IFA had to make such massive efforts to turn it around?

    The fact that, several years after the FFA campaign began, you lied by saying that it only began after Neil Lennon received a death threat, has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on the IFA’s decision-making about community relations.

    If the situation that I and others have described didn’t exist, all these initiatives wouldn’t have been necessary.

    Irrelevant comment that doesn’t alter the fact that you lied.

    I am honest enough to admit that the IFA have made great improvements in recent years.

    So why lie about when it began?

    However, anyone who attended NI matches at Windsor in the 70’s – 90’s knows how bad the sectarianism was. You can deny it all you want, the people who were there know the truth.

    I’m denying nothing: I’m merely exposing your lies about the timing and motivation for the FFA campaign.

    I also note that – unsurprisingly – you have failed to provide even a shred of evidence for your outrageous claim that “anti-Catholic chanting and flag burning wasn’t just tolerated – it was effectively encouraged”.

  • Realist

    rab,

    “Boyce claimed there was no appetite for an all ireland league, while The Derry chairman said he had held discussions with several Irish League chairmen over the setting up of an all ireland league(and all were in favour) and that Boyce was fully aware of this”

    Have you got a link to where Boyce claimed “there was no appetite for an All Ireland league”?

    I’m curious to see exactly what he said.

    I certainly feel there is some appetite amongst Irish League fans.

    Not least, I would imagine, amongst the fans of Jim’s beloved Cliftonville FC.

    What IL clubs has the Derry City Chairman spoken to?

    I know Glentoran FC are broadly supportive of the concept and Linfield FC are for an expansion of the Setanta Cup but against an All Ireland league.

    I presume that the smaller clubs are very much against it.

  • true fan

    We should pull out of the Shilleleagh Cup in protest at the actions of the beggars in stealing players like O’Connor and Kane from us.
    As for Derry City, nothing I have seen in recent times has changed my original view that we are well rid of them and the rest of the refugees in the West Bank.

  • blandy

    they don,t sing about being up to their necks… at croke.

    they do however sing songs celebrating those who were actually up to their necks in prod (and fenian) blood!! every bit as offensive.

  • grimesy

    Blandy,

    OK, I was asked earlier on this thread for specific examples, so now it’s your turn, namely:-

    – Which songs were sung?

    – Which game were you at?

    – When did it occur?

    Been going to hurling matches there for 17 years.

  • true fan

    Big deal Grimesy-you’re a fan of Air Hockey-so what?

    Actually I think Blandy is wrong on this one as the singing at GAA matches is shite. Invariably. it will be ‘Mayo (insert your own team’s name at this point), clap, clap, clap’.

    and err, that’s it.

    There’s better singing on the X Factor for God’s sake

  • Realist

    true fan,

    “As for Derry City, nothing I have seen in recent times has changed my original view that we are well rid of them and the rest of the refugees in the West Bank”

    Being a “true fan”, you might like to point that out to members of the Derry City NISC (you’ll see their big fleg) when you are on your next NI away trip singing The Sash.

    If you had of been at the Linfield v Portadown game yesterday, you would have been able to tell that to the faces of the Derry City fans who were in the Viewing Lounge.

    I suppose you boo Derry City players that represent Northern Ireland, at various levels, too?

    Plenty of them, over the years.

    Maybe “true fans” don’t do Under 21 or Under 19 matches?

  • grimesy

    TF,

    Point is, I’ve never heard the songs he’s referring to sang & I’ve been there dozens of times.

    Which you’ve just confirmed – and no, I’m not trying to point score.

  • true fan

    Realist (or Mac as I know you when we talk on OWC)

    I have been on many away trips and I have already booked for Leichtenstein.

    As for all that ‘hand accross the divide’ crap, you appear to be living the dream of a bad Spandau Ballet song.

    So Middle-aged Linfield-supporting anoraks occasionaly meet up with Middle-aged Londonderry supporting anoraks for Beer and Burgers.

    What do you want the Nobel Peace Prize, you numptie!!!

  • Very Curious

    BP1078

    ” I couldn’t personally give a flying fxxk if you or other nationalists support my team-if your politics dictate otherwise, then support the team that plays in Dublin instead of the one in Belfast. But be honest for your reasons for doing so. ”

    This is getting tedious…re-read my posts again. I have been very clear in my reasons for supporting the ROI over NI. How you came to any other conclusion is beyond me.

    “That’s a strange non-sequiter, from the rest of your comment…but anyway,”

    Why? The NI soccer team means nothing at all to me..zip. If some of their fans want to disgrace themselves with secterian chanting etc. it doesn’t bother or hurt me any way in the slightest. I couldn’t care less. Their behaviour only hurts the NI soccer team and the well behaved supporters. If NI fans were the best behaved supporters in the world (and it seems the majority actually are) it still wouldn’t make me support NI because thats not the issue. I support the ROI because I am an Irish Nationalist and my allegiance lies with the ROI. Simple, non?

  • true fan

    ‘I support the ROI because I am an Irish Nationalist and my allegiance lies with the ROI. Simple, non?’

    That’s lovely for you VC-If you’re ready, i’ll ring you a Taxi and you can straight down there to Tudernerland right now-don’t forget to sign off before you go!

  • Realist

    Note to Moderator:

    I’m not so sure that Slugger posters should be attempting to guess and reveal the monikers of posters on other boards?

    true fan,

    “I have been on many away trips and I have already booked for Leichtenstein”

    So have I – good for you.

    Tell you what – why don’t you try and get a rendition of “The Sash” going in the stadium in Vaduz.

    Did you make for the last game we played in Vaduz?

    You remember, when we were shite – were you amongst the 24 travelling fans?

    “As for all that ‘hand accross the divide’ crap, you appear to be living the dream of a bad Spandau Ballet song”

    Nothing to do with “hands across the divide” and there’s nothing wrong with Spandau Ballet either.

    No dream either. The dreamers are those who clutch at the believe that supporting Northern Ireland is an expression of “Protestantism”. 🙂

    “What do you want the Nobel Peace Prize, you numptie!!”

    Nope. I seek no prizes. Your name calling is rather infantile too – especially on a Sunday.

    Shocking stuff, especially from a good Prod like you.

    I have no doubt you will call me worse to my face in Vaduz 🙂

  • Very Curious

    “My theory on northern nationalists is that when it comes to six counties competing with the 26 counties on any sphere other than Gaelic sports then northren nationalists will support the latter everytime. ”

    In international competition I will support the ROI over NI every time. Gaelic Games are not played on an internationl level (int rules with Australia aside) so they are completely different. Let me elaborate. The support in Gaelic Games usually works as follows. There are two levels, club and county. At club level you normally support your club until it is knocked out. Then you would support the reps of your county at province level. And the reps of your Province at all-Ireland level. At county level, you support your own county as far as it goes, then you support whoever is representing your province on an all-Ireland stage. Obviously this doesn’t always follow. For instance I know a few Armagh fans who were rooting for Kerry in the 2005 all-Ireland final because they don’t like Tyrone. To hammer home how your point just isn’t true, in the Ulster championship I won’t automatically support Tyrone over Donegal just because Tyrone are from NI. I would root for Donegal because they are the underdogs.

    “Does that make that person a good citisen of NI ?
    There is more to being a good citisen than paying your taxes. ”

    Oh please, I’d love to hear your full checklist of good citizenship of NI. Tell me, do the “loyalists” who razed their own areas in Belfast in 2005 have to pass the test as well?
    (My good citizen taxes were resurfacing the roads in their areas much to my dismay)

  • Realist

    true fan,

    I’ve just had a quick look over at OWC.

    There are no Members or Patrons of that board who use the moniker “true fan”.

    It is therefore highly unlikely that you have ever “talked” with me on OWC.

    Unles, of course, you use a different moniker on OWC.

    In which case, perhaps you would have the courtersy to reveal it here – as obviously you have no problem in attempting a guess at my moniker on OWC.

    PS. Whilst I was not in the Viewing Lounge yesterday (it was too bunged), I am reliably informed that the Derry fans were certainly not “middle aged”, and that they skipped on the burgers.

  • Very Curious

    true fan,

    You really are a little pest aren’t you?… but not to me, oh, no, no. You see, you prove exactly what I have said in my 8.15pm post.

    The people who you are a headache to and the ones who have to deal with you and your ilk are the NI fans. They are the ones who are debating with you on this thread to try and make you behave yourself.

  • BP1078

    Why approach people to whom the mere question might be an insult and might end up in a political shit storm

    Kensei
    We’re in agreement then.

    So, the ROI operates a selection policy which discriminates on grounds other than football ability.

    How do they decide on which player to approach?
    Is a political questionaire sent out to all potential players, or do they simply check what school/church the player attended?

    rab
    Why are only players from a certain background selected by the ROI-are they better players?”

    I presume unionist players would rather play for the unionist team

    “Unionist” players?
    Pray tell, how do they determine an 18 year old is a “Unionist” player?
    Do they check which school/church he attended?
    If so, isn’t that ever so slightly sectarian a selection policy?

  • true fan

    Realist,
    don’t call in the internet police (RUC not PSNI of course)

    Why do you feel the need to stalk me on OWC?

    From a recent ‘exchange’ we had there, you should know who I am.

    I will certainly see you in Vaduz for a beer .

    sure it’s only a bit of craic, ma chara.

  • Ziznivy

    First of all Northern Ireland is not disputed territory. It is recognised internationally, by the Irish government and even by Sinn Fein (tacitly) as part of the UK. Secondly Mr Ahern should keep is coniving nose out of football.

  • John East Belfast

    kensei

    “Would you expect that SF Minister to be working his ass off to ensure that NI gets that investment as opposed to ROI ?”

    That would be his bloody job, wouldn’t it.”

    No it wouldnt be his job. That would be a civil servant’s “job”.
    A Minister in the Government of the place called NI would be expected to put his heart and soul into championing NI the world over.

    You see you say you have allegiance to a jurisdiction other than the one within which you reside.
    There is nothing wrong with having aspirations to unite the two different parts of Ireland by argument and persuasion.
    However until that occurs the logic of the GFA, the SAA, sharing power with your other fellow citisens in NI – called unionists – and supporting the structures and authorities of that entity is you support that country’s football team ?

    Surely it is an absurd frame of mind to have any other ?

    Infact if I shared it I would feel the need to pack up and move there.

  • Realist

    true fan,

    “Why do you feel the need to stalk me on OWC?”

    I don’t feel the need to stalk anyone on OWC.

    It was you who brought OWC monikers into the thread here. Why, I don’t know.

    “From a recent ‘exchange’ we had there, you should know who I am.”

    No disrespect peeps, but I have lots of “exchanges” on different sites, including OWC.

    I haven’t a clue what you post as on OWC, nor am I particularly interested, to be honest.

    “I will certainly see you in Vaduz for a beer”

    No thanks to your beer offer. Happy to chat with anyone about any issue pertaining to the Northern Ireland football team and it’s supporters anywhere.

    If you wish to chat with me in Vaduz concerning why you believe supporting Northern Ireland is some kind of religious experience, I’ll happily oblige you.

    When I start pissing myself laughing, just remember that it’s only a bit of crack.

  • kensei

    “We’re in agreement then.

    So, the ROI operates a selection policy which discriminates on grounds other than football ability.”

    Yes, they operate a selection policy base don people who want to play for them.

    “How do they decide on which player to approach?
    Is a political questionaire sent out to all potential players, or do they simply check what school/church the player attended? ”

    I have no idea. Let’s not be naive here. Looking at the school/church might give you a rough idea if they are interested. It is a common sense thing to do. But I’m sure feelers are sent out and it operates both ways. I have no idea what exactly you are trying to get at here.

    Though thinking about it, they should do everything in their power to get Ulster prods on the team. They we could truly claim to represent everyone.

  • John East Belfast

    very curious

    That was the worst attempt to both avoid the issue and engage in one up manship I have read in a while.

    I am not in the least bit interested in the mechanics of Gaelic sports but I am more interested in your

    “In international competition I will support the ROI over NI every time.”

    Does this also extend to Industry and commerce – ie my microsoft test which you didnt answer ?

    Would it also extend to lets say the world “tiddly winks competition” – eg a young catholic lad (likely a nationalist) from West Belfast is representing Northern Ireland against a counterpart from Dublin – are you going to support the ROI on that occasion on the basis that the young catholic lad is a traitor ?

    are you saying you have no affinity to your northern brethern catholic or prostestant and on every occasion you will put your heart with peole by and large you rarely meet and who likley want nothing to do with you ?

  • true fan

    Ulster Prods would never sell their soul to play for a foreign country, Kensei.-keep on dreaming

  • joey

    Is Tiddleywinks a partionist sport?

  • kensei

    “are you saying you have no affinity to your northern brethern catholic or prostestant and on every occasion you will put your heart with peole by and large you rarely meet and who likley want nothing to do with you ?”

    You know, I think I’ve fair answering questions and stuff, but that’s just such a new low. You refuse to listen to what anyone here says about their nationality and identity, and insist on setting “tests”. Seriously examine your own attitudes first.

  • Realist

    “Ulster Prods would never sell their soul to play for a foreign country, Kensei.-keep on dreaming”

    true fan,

    Some “Ulster Prods” were born and reared in the Republic of Ireland.

    In fact in other sports we see non “Prods” from the Republic Of Ireland representing Ulster.

  • kensei

    “Ulster Prods would never sell their soul to play for a foreign country, Kensei.-keep on dreaming ”

    Fortunately, I’m not asking anyone to sell their soul.

  • joey

    ok-sorry about that.

  • John East Belfast

    kensei

    I am trying to explore nationalist and republican attitudes to NI post SA Agreement.

    The kind of things you are saying re NI Sport v ROI sport should be ditched along with the other antipathies republicans have to the state.

    Nationalists should join the G&W army and help change from within – GSTQ and the Union Flag are not required for the NI team.
    Indeed now is the time for a new NI Flag.

    You are claiming loyalty to a state that doesnt exist (yet ?)

    Either way I am trying to advise you as a unionist you will be better placed to argue the case for an All Ireland football team or a United Ireland if you are first generating goodwill from within.
    Otherwise you are just emphasising our separateness and any attempt at unity will fall on deaf ears.

    Whether you or other nationalists listen to that is up to you.

    You can be Northern Irish and still Irish – the northerners always were different for many reasons including geography and the plantation. Northern Ireland just recognises that so why dont you just enjoy the ride ?

    Anyhow a state of mind for the next 50 or 60 years that hankers after somewhere else would be unbearable.

  • kensei

    “I am trying to explore nationalist and republican attitudes to NI post SA Agreement.

    The kind of things you are saying re NI Sport v ROI sport should be ditched along with the other antipathies republicans have to the state.”

    You don’t get it. I tolerate the state, because I can’t get rid of it, and I ensure it isn’t discriminating against me. But I am Irish, not “Northern Irish” or “Ulster”ish, and the things that mean anything to are things like the Tricolour, Bunreacht na hEireann, Amhrain na bhFiann, the 1916 Proclaimation, the Irish language, Irish traditional music and the like. Articles 2&3 were given up, but in their place it was ensured there was no question my right to citizenship of the Republic by birthright and that I am full and complete part of the Irish Nation.

    “Nationalists should join the G&W army and help change from within – GSTQ and the Union Flag are not required for the NI team.
    Indeed now is the time for a new NI Flag.”

    How are you going to represent me? “Northern Ireland” and it’s symbols means nothing to me. Any flag of “Northern Ireland” is just a symbol that I am split from 75% of my Nation who are happily enjoying the benefits of independence and success to boot. A thing of pain. Are you going to fly the Tricolour aside the Union Jack? Are you going to play the Soldiers Song too? It is not just that NI doesn’t represent me: at fundamental level it can’t. The cultural barrier that you can’t seem to cross is that you are trying to split me from the rest of my fellow Irishmen, and I don’t want to be split.

    I appreciate this argument can in some sense, run both ways. But Unionists seem to have at least some degree of “Irish” identity. I have zero “British” identity.

    “You are claiming loyalty to a state that doesnt exist (yet ?)”

    I claim loyalty to the Irish republic. In so far that the current Irish state approximates it, I am loyal to it.

    “Either way I am trying to advise you as a unionist you will be better placed to argue the case for an All Ireland football team or a United Ireland if you are first generating goodwill from within.
    Otherwise you are just emphasising our separateness and any attempt at unity will fall on deaf ears.”

    I agree, if a Unionist was to make the case for a United Ireland, it would be a lot better than coming from me. But I am not a Unionist. There are a number of things I can do, but there are points I just can’t cross.

    “Whether you or other nationalists listen to that is up to you.

    You can be Northern Irish and still Irish – the northerners always were different for many reasons including geography and the plantation. Northern Ireland just recognises that so why dont you just enjoy the ride ?”

    This fundamentally Unionist thinking. On some level, yes, we are all different. Good grief, I’m not from Cork for heavens sake. But neither is someone from Dublin or Donegal or Athlone. But on a fundamental level, we are all Irish. Their symbols are my symbols. Their history, their culture are my history, my culture. Their aspirations are my aspirations. I have no desire to be divided and indeed being so is painful. And I have particularly no desire to be ruled from elsewhere and little say in any of the important matters.

    And it was different for you. It wasn’t so different for us.

    “Anyhow a state of mind for the next 50 or 60 years that hankers after somewhere else would be unbearable.”

    Congratulations, you are beginning to get Northern Nationalism.

  • Doctor Who

    Kensei, I find your whole nationalist Irish fixation a yawn, as I do most people who harp on about loyalty to a certain flag.

    You clearly express that nothing stops you from expressing your Irishness.

    You actually choose not to. You have never attended either Landsdowne Road or Croke Park, from another thread I remember you saying that you didn´t speak Gaelic. you are sperated from 75% of your countrymen, how can this be when you proclaim you are a citizen of the ROI.

    Now that over the last 10 years the South is enjoying a little bit of prosperity, you are missing out on wealth and this is all the fault of these nasty “stupid unionists”.

    You appease anti semitism at Roi matches, racism and excuse sectarian singing fom ROI fans, but because someone rang a clerk at the BBC call centre and said “Neill Lennon is dead” (could well have been a Celtic shirt weraring pillock from Ballymurphy), all NI fans are bigots.

    The nimrods who have posted here claiming that a huge number of young players from Catholic backgrounds in the North are now opting to play for the ROI should remember the following¨,

    1. Not one single Northern player has recently played at senior level for ROI.

    2. Not one of the young players recently poached expressed any concern in playing for NI up to under 19 level.

    3. I and 99% of NI fans are proud that OWC is representative of all religions in the six counties of Northern Ireland.

    4. Ask Pat Jennings or Gerry Armstrong if they would have rather played for the ROI.

    5. Windsor Park is a hotbed of sickening sectarianism, but only when the followers of Cliftonville come.

    6. Dermot Ahern is not talking about a united team, he is talking about the eradication of the Northern team. He should keep his neb out.

    7. GAWA ARE OFFICIALLY THE BEST FANS IN EUROPE!!!

    Kensei don´t you think it´s about time you changed that tri colour duvet, it really is starting to stink.

  • kensei

    “Kensei, I find your whole nationalist Irish fixation a yawn, as I do most people who harp on about loyalty to a certain flag.”

    I am on a political website, talking about identity politics on a thread that covers said topic. So, with dude respect, if you have fuck all to say, fuck off then. I am not even going to deal with the rest of your post, except for this:

    “You appease anti semitism at Roi matches, racism and excuse sectarian singing fom ROI fans,”

    I don’t believe that was what I said and I meant no such thing. If I there is anything written here that would give that impression I apologise and refute it completely, utterly and without exception or reservation because that is the exact opposite of what I believe.

    Now, if you make that completely false statement again, I want to make it clear you are libeling me and I want the moderators to stop it.

  • mike

    dr w

    Pat Jennings was continually subjected to sectarian abuse during his international career as he mentioned during an interview after the Lennon death threat issue.

    “It’s sad the Neil Lennon situation,” he said. “For me there is no room for sectarianism in football, but if he’s receiving threats what else can he do? It’s just crazy and I experienced it right through my international career as a Catholic. I got a fair bit of stick, probably because I was closer to the support than any of the other players.”

    Jennings , along with George Best & Derek Dougan have all talked of their belief in an all island team.

    Michael Walker football correspondent for The Guardian Wrote about his own early experiences of attending matches at Windsor Park

    “As I graduated from the paddock to the Spion Kop to watch as Billy Bingham assembled a side that would qualify for the World Cup in Spain as Bobby Sands died on hunger strike, the sheer purity of the hatred expressed towards Catholics, even those on the team such as O’Neill and Pat Jennings, was dismal.”

    Try not to gloss over the sectarianism that existed, and continues to exist within the support base of n.i football fans.

  • Doctor Who

    Kensei

    “Now, if you make that completely false statement again, I want to make it clear you are libeling me and I want the moderators to stop it.”

    Ah dry yer eyes, typical. On the we exist thread, which I cannot access, you stated that it was the right of ROI fans to protest against the Israel team.

    You also stated that I was accountable as a Jew for the actions of the state of Israel.

    You have recently described all Unionists as stupid. You endlessly harp on about irish Nationalism, to the point of boredom. You think that all culture is linked to Nationalism and if it´s not then it aint worth it.

    You don´t practice your national identidy, you just cpmplain that you can´t express it.

    So go on SUE ME !!! LOL

  • Doctor Who

    Mike

    Pat Jennings played 119 times for Northern Ireland and always maintained that a small amount of supporters gave some Catholic players a rough time.

    An All Ireland team would certainly on paper have been interesting, some NI legends have said as much, don´t forget that they have also said there are major obstacles. It was the separtists of the FAI who caused the split in the first place.

    When Nationalists or Republicans talk aboout an all Ireland team what they really want to see is an end to a Northern Ireland team, as another eradication of a state institution of incredible history.

    Not a single palyer has ever been forced to play for Northern Ireland and my question was ask jennings or armstrong who they would rather have played for. You couldn´t answer it, instead you engaged in the usual whataboutery.

    GAWA OFFICIALLY THE BEST FANS IN EUROPE!!!

  • Billy

    Dr Who

    I remember some time ago that you were saying that the RoI were breaking FIFA/UEFA rules in poaching NI players – that if the RoI tried to play any of these players in any sort of competitive fixture, they would get kicked out.

    I’m a football fanatic and watch it and read about it avidly.

    I haven’t seen any pronouncements from FIFA, UEFA, the IFA or FAI yet. I notice that a couple more young players born in NI have declared for the RoI since then.

    Are UEFA/FIFA just waiting to pounce? or could it possibly be that you were talking complete and utter shite.

    I know where my money would be.

  • BP1078

    Kensei

    I have no idea. Let’s not be naive here. Looking at the school/church might give you a rough idea if they are interested. It is a common sense thing to do. But I’m sure feelers are sent out and it operates both ways. I have no idea what exactly you are trying to get at here.

    No, it doesn’t operate both ways.
    Unlike the ROI, NI does not operate a selection policy based on *community background*.
    Unlike the ROI, NI are interested in players of all *community backgrounds*.
    Unlike the ROI, NI does not operate a discriminatory selection policy.

    I’m a football fanatic and watch it and read about it avidly. I haven’t seen any pronouncements from FIFA, UEFA, the IFA or FAI yet. I notice that a couple more young players born in NI have declared for the RoI since then

    You should think about changing your reading material then Billy. UEFA, IFA and the FAI have all made statements on this issue.

  • The World’s Gone Mad

    These arguments will run and run ad infinitum and most definitely, ad nauseum.

    Fair Deal’s update from the Sunday Life states that there are FIFA regulations which makes the merger of the two Football Associations impossible. Does anyone know what these rules are specifically?

    Its not as if FIFA are completely inflexible on the whole nations/associations question – Macau and Hong Kong both field international teams despite being part of China;
    Serbia and Montenegro played at the World Cup despite by that stage being two completely independant countries (even prior to this they were little more than a loose confederation); the CIS played as a team in the 1992 European Championships; and of course, another country a bit closer to home fields four teams… Each one of these examples is a ‘special case’, which the vexed question of Ireland of the Northern and Republic varieties undoubtedly are as well.

    So what are these FIFA rules that would prevent an all-Ireland team if both organisations decided that had had enough of the gravy train and wanted to merge?

  • Realist

    A crazy weekend, I tell ya!

    An FAI official gives a realistic view on the Setanta Cup – “it hasn’t proved to be the financial bonanza which many expected”, and dispels a myth that a single team would be worldbeaters – “it’s a nonsense to suggest that if Ireland had just one team, results would improve dramatically. It just doesn’t happen like that”.

    On the other hand, the Glasgow Rangers youth team coach (a man with close links to the island of Ireland) states, regarding a unified team – I know there are barriers to overcome, but I’d love to see it in my lifetime”.

    Oh, and Conor Downey swapped the red of Cliftonville for the royal blue of Linfield.

    The world’s gone mad.

  • Doctor Who

    Billy

    “I remember some time ago that you were saying that the RoI were breaking FIFA/UEFA rules in poaching NI players – that if the RoI tried to play any of these players in any sort of competitive fixture, they would get kicked out. ”

    No Billy what I actually said was that if the FAI fielded players that where later found not to qualify for the ROI, then that would effectively end the international carerrs of those players.

    So far no such players have played in a competitive match at senior or under 21 level, so I would say that the FAI are showing a little more caution.

    You seem also to have missed the fact that the IFA attended a meeting with Uefa recently about the matter, in attendance with their legal team.

    The very fact that the FAI have poached these Northern players shows a lack of respect to their smaller Northern neighbour, it also considerably damages the possibility of an All Ireland Premier League, which I feel is essential to ambitious football clubs both North and South.

    Such a League would surely have already happened, had their been the interest from the business community to exploit the potential.

    A twelve team league with qualifying conditions such as suitability of stadia, existing status and solvency of club would need to be considered, so immediately problems arise.

    For such a League to start a break away authority is needed, seperate from the IFA and FAI headed by astute individuals from both the world of football and commerce.

    A 12 team league of the following teams initially.
    Linfield, Glentoran, Glenavon, Portadown, Ballymena, Crusaders, Shelbourne, Derry City, Cork City, St. Patricks, Sligo, Drogheda.

    The regional leagues could then act as feeder to Premier League with one from each leaugue being promoted and two from the top tier being relegated to their respective assocaitions.

    It´s a long way off and will only happen with outside interest.

    As for a one island side. NOT A HOPE IN HELL.

  • kensei

    “Ah dry yer eyes, typical. On the we exist thread, which I cannot access, you stated that it was the right of ROI fans to protest against the Israel team.”

    Yes they do. Obviously not in any violent, racist, sectarian or anti-Semitic way.

    “You also stated that I was accountable as a Jew for the actions of the state of Israel.”

    No I didn’t. I stated that individuals have some responsibility for the actions of a group if they identify themselves a part of that group. And if they are doing something particularly brilliant, then that reflects too. If they are doing something bad then there is a responsibility on the members of that group to take action to stop it. Otherwise no one has any responsibility for anything and the mere fact of being a group lets people off the hook. This doesn’t mean what you are saying.

    “You have recently described all Unionists as stupid.”

    Yes. In a tongue in cheek fashion in the sense I think Unionism is a bad idea.

    “You endlessly harp on about irish Nationalism, to the point of boredom.”

    Perhaps because I’m on a political website where the topic of identity and stuff comes up repeatedly. And hey!, people are allowed to be passionate on a subject. If you don’t like it, stop reading it.

    “You think that all culture is linked to Nationalism and if it´s not then it aint worth it.”

    No, that’s balls. I greatly admire the Art of Renaissance Italy, Impressionist painting, a lot about America, British Music, Shakespeare, Japanese Martial Arts and bushido, a lot about Buddhism….,. I could go on forever. Oddly, most of those topics rarely come up here.

    “So go on SUE ME !!! LOL ”

    I hope it won’t come to that. I think I have given out enough information on myself that working out who I am wouldn’t be too difficult, if I haven’t given my full name a few times. It’ll actually have to go through Mick as he’s publishing it.

    I am deadly serious. I want outright lies about me to stop.

    BP

    “No, it doesn’t operate both ways.
    Unlike the ROI, NI does not operate a selection policy based on *community background*.
    Unlike the ROI, NI are interested in players of all *community backgrounds*.
    Unlike the ROI, NI does not operate a discriminatory selection policy.”

    I meant in the sense that players operate feelers towards the Republic.

    Anyway, I STILL don’t get what you are driving at. The republic look for eligible players from not just here, but from England, Scotland, anywhere else you like, you religion or community background is hardly a problem. If an Ulster Protestant wished to play for the Republic, I’m 100% guarantee in would be included in the setup if good enough. But let’s be honest, most don’t. I don’t know how it works either, I’m merely guessing. But addressing people’s sensitivities is not sectarian.

  • Henry94

    Doctor Who

    When Nationalists or Republicans talk aboout an all Ireland team what they really want to see is an end to a Northern Ireland team

    I don’t think that is the reality but I am certain it would be the widespread perception.

    That is why I propose basing the team in Belfast.

    Would that makea difference do you think?

  • Doctor Who

    Henry 94

    are you going to tell the Southern supporters that they can no longer watch their team.

  • Henry94

    Doctor Who

    No, just that they would have to go to Belfast to do so.

  • Doctor Who

    Amounts to the same thing. I would not go to Dublin to watch an all ireland side.

    I have gone on three occasions more than Kensei to watch ROI in Dublin.

  • Ziznivy

    “Either way I am trying to advise you as a unionist you will be better placed to argue the case for an All Ireland football team or a United Ireland if you are first generating goodwill from within. ”

    The last thing I would want to see is ballbags like that at Windsor Park.

  • Concerned Loyalist

    An All-Ireland League and national team? OVER MY DEAD BODY…

  • Billy Pilgrim

    I would love to see a unified national team but, parking that issue for a moment, I think the idea of an all-Ireland league would be far less vexed in the short to medium term. A league consisting of, say, the twelve best teams in the country. I seem to remember when the Setanta Cup was launched a couple of years ago, both David Jeffrey of Linfield and, I think Ronnie McFall of Portadown, were on-record as supporting the idea of an all-Ireland league. As has previously been mentioned here, Glentoran are also enthusiastic.

    Would any of the real football people on this thread care to discuss this issue with me? (To be honest, I’m completely uninterested in talking about flags and anthems and identity and Neil Lennon and Derek Dougan and on and on and on….)

    Such a league, were it to come into existence, would have to secure substantial start-up funding so that the twelve clubs inaugurating the new league would be confident of their financial future. Such funding could only really come from government – I can’t see where else it would come from, though of course all other avenues ought to be explored. You’d be talking about at least £100 million just to start with, but if the political will existed then it might be doable.

    (Commercial investment should, of course, be gobbled up, but it might be unrealistic to hope it would come on-stream in the first couple of years – potential investors would most likely adopt a wait-and-see approach. Therefore it would probably fall to government to invest, on the decidedly non-commercial grounds that it’s would be for the benefit of the country as a whole.)

    So, let’s say we arrive at a situation where the political will exists on both sides of the border to protect a select band of twelve clubs from insolvency for a period of five years – after which they’d be on their own. Part of the deal for securing funding would be that:

    a) clubs would agree to appoint a financial controller agreed by government to oversee the spending of grants;
    b) funding would be used to upgrade crumbling grounds to meet UEFA standards (say, four-sided all-seater venues, each with a minimum of say 12,000 seats, meeting stringent safety regulations and including all the family-friendly facilities of modern stadia – if local soccer is to prosper, it must become a more family-oriented occasion);
    c) all clubs applying for admission to the elite 12 would present detailed plans for youth development and the coaching of young players in their hinterland, and the plans would have to be convincing – the goal is to create an organic growth in competence and natural raising of standards;
    d) the clubs would agree to give to the government-appointed financial controller the authority to veto any potential “vanity signings”;
    e) the clubs applying for admission to the elite 12 would also have to present detailed plans for anti-sectarian campaigns, and contingency plans for occasions when sectarianism does rear its ugly head (eg workable penalties such as lengthy or lifetime bans from grounds for spectators engaged in sectarian behaviour – and evidence of a zero-tolerance approach to the issue);
    e) all games (no matter how minor) would be all-ticket, and tickets would only be available through clubs. Each club would undertake to organise a “Friends of Linfield / Shelbourne” ticketing organisation which individual fans would be entitled to join (no fee but open only to those for whom the club is prepared to take responsibility) and through which tickets would be distributed. (This is similar to the GAA’s system which, though not perfect and open to cronyism, has ensured that major violence is unthinkable at GAA games)
    f) the twelve clubs would between them elect an Executive Security Officer to liaise with PSNI and Gardai ahead of all fixtures. He would be confined to a fixed one-term, three-year tenure – thereby ensuring independence from football politics. His powers would include draconian provisions including the right to unilaterally order postponements, ban away fans, or order that matches be played behind closed doors

    In terms of the organisation, the league would be run by a dedicated executive panel of no more than six members elected from a joint IFA/FAI congress (congress to be organised on a basis agreed between the two Associations). Successful clubs would represent their league in UEFA competition, according to criteria agreed. (Winners go into ECL, runners-up to UEFA)

    Both the IFA and FAI would have to agree to radically reduce their overheads and cut the ranks of blazers in each organisation by at least 50 per cent. This process would be overseen by government-appointed overseers.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Then, if we could get the original twelve clubs together, I think they would in turn have to be protected from the vicissitudes of their playing fortunes by perhaps suspending promotion and relegation for, say, the first five or seven years, thereby allowing all clubs time to find their feet, make mistakes, and come back stronger for having learned from them.

    The initial five-to-seven year period would hopefully allow a bedding-in period in which all-island competition takes its place in the public psyche. Initially, the lower leagues north and south would continue to operate separately, with the plan to amalgamate the respective “second divisions” after three years (creating all-island second and third divisions, with positions in each to be decided ideally by league positions but, more realistically, by Association politics), the “third divisions” after four years (creating fourth and fifth divisions) and so on.

    Admittedly if after five or seven years things went to plan and the idea was a success, one of the bitter fruits of that success would be a gulf between the top twelve elite and the rest. I have to admit I’m not sure how to address that problem – though I would suggest that the gulf would be created by the top twelve raising their standards, while the others would probably not be any worse than they are now

    Of the initial “elite 12” clubs, the following would be bankers: Linfield, Glentoran, Derry City, Portadown, Shelbourne, Bohemians, Cork City, St Patrick’s Athletic.

    That leaves four places up for grabs among, say: Cliftonville, Shamrock Rovers, Galway United, Waterford United, Limerick City, Dungannon Swifts, Dundalk, Ballymena United, Longford Town, Sligo Rovers. These are just suggestions, based on past achievements and urban location as well as their present positions. A bid from Donegal Celtic would also have to be looked at very carefully, not based on their present position but based on the potential for a Celtic side in west Belfast playing in an all-Ireland league. (Maybe if they could be persuaded to change their name to Belfast Celtic……)

    (PS Realist – we were having a chat a few weeks ago on this issue and when I suggested all-Ireland structures, you asked: on what basis? What would be the benefits? Unfortunately I wasn’t able to continue that discussion but your question deserved to be addressed, so I hope these few ideas I’ve jotted down will give us something to chew over. I don’t pretend these ideas are perfect, but I think the important thing is that we keep talking to each other, that we do so with goodwill, that we try out ideas and that we allow ourselves a few mistakes.

    PPS Good job in standing up to “True Fan” – as someone who is still very ambivalent to NI soccer, all I can say is, that’s the sort of approach that impresses me and would make me more trusting of the Windsor crowd.)

  • BP1078

    That’s a very impressive feasibility study (better than anything that the IFA or FAO are likely to produce!) Billy.

    The main drawback I can see is that you’ve guaranteed pretty much everything, except the number of punters actually turning up to watch the thing.

    Venues with a minimum of 12,000 seats sounds great, but how often would they be filled?
    Blues v Derry or the Glens possibly, but against Shelbourne, St Pats?

    The “product” on offer has got to improve to attract those who get their football fix in Scotland and England and their armchairs as opposed to wandering out to their local ground.

    When the SPL evolved all those years ago, the main reasons given were to raise playing standards, to challenge the hegemony of the Big 2 and to compete with the English leagues in grabbing the best local talent. None of that has happened and with the best will in the world, I can’t see how an Irish version would succeed where the Scottish one failed.

  • Realist

    Hi Billy Pilgrim,

    Wow – you’ve been doing a bit of thinking – I’m impressed!

    Your “goodwill” with me is not in question, I hasten to add.

    I’ll give your proposals the detailed reply they deserve asap.

    Just want to touch on a couple of things.

    Whilst I tentatively favour the concept of an All Ireland league, I totally oppose the notion of an All Ireland national side.

    The reason why many fans in Northern Ireland would not be in favour of an All Ireland league is because they would see it as going some way down the line towards an All Ireland national side – there is deep suspicion, heightened by the likes of Ahern’s comments.

    The autonomy of the Irish Football Association in fielding “Northern Ireland” international sides is not negotiable, as far as I am concerned – I would be sure that if a poll was taken amongst the members and season ticket holders of the IPL Clubs you suggest would enter the “Elite 12” (Linfield, Glentoran and Portadown), that would be a majority opinion too, by a considerable margin.

    Take away the posturing about an All Ireland team, provide some guarantees as to the future autonomy of a “Northern Ireland” international team and I would be sure many more fans here would fully welcome the establishment of an all island league structure.

    I think further co-operation, not assimilation, is the bedrock of future developments.

    Regards.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    BP1078

    You’re right, of course, there’s no guarantee that the thing would take off and start attracting large numbers of people to the grounds. I’m just trying to think of some of the factors that would make that scenario as likely as possible.

    One of the biggest problems the Eircom League has in attracting crowds is the state of the stadiums. They have improved in recent times but are nowhere near good enough to start attracting families along. That would have to be the key to making soccer really take off on these shores – making it a real family occasion. Presently most of the grounds in the Eircom are of poor standard and for the overwhelming majority of fans, boast only the most basic facilities. Consequently the crowds are made up predominantly of young men – just like it was in England twenty years ago. The atmosphere is not one into which I would be comfortable bringing children. Then look north and we see that not only are the grounds even more ramshackle and the facilities even less inviting, but the poisonous reality of sectarianism is thrown into the mix too. There’s no way I’d bring a child into that environment. And I’d really like to be able to bring my children to football on a Saturday afternoon.

    So how do we get from here to there? God knows there are no guarantees, but there are things that, if improved, would be unalloyed boons. Improvements to grounds is key – which is why I stress that they be all-seater and that they boast the most state-of-the-art facilities. You don’t need to be a sociologist to know that people in such a setting will behave in a much more civilised way than people crammed onto concrete steps, ringed by caged fencing and beneath crumbling asbestos or tin. My ticketing scheme also makes it much easier to identify and exclude the minority of so-called fans who might cause trouble and discredit their clubs. All of this will make it more possible for fans to bring along the wife and kids. (And if all this sounds very middle class, well, I suppose it is.)

    So, improving stadia is one part of making the “product” more attractive. Improving standards on the pitch would be another aspect – which is why I think clubs should have to put forward convincing proposals for nurturing local talent. Also, with protection from relegation for a few years at least, the elite 12 should all be able to raise their standards on the field, making the games a better spectacle. (The new Irish League should boast all the best players in Ireland, except for the very top few who would still go to England – no Irish league is going to rival the Premiership but it should at least allow our local talent the option to play as professional footballers in Ireland, at a level at least as good as England’s lower leagues and Scotland, excluding the Old Firm.)

    Then there’s the promotion of the games. Here I think the challenge would be to attract the interest of RTE and BBCNI, to ensure games would be broadcast live on, say, Saturdays and Wednesday evenings, with highlights packages a la MOTD on Saturday nights. As the GAA’s experience since the early 1990s has shown, televising matches does not hit attendances – it boosts them.

    As for competing with the Premiership and Champions’ League – I think the issue is twofold. On one hand, we can’t compete with them. This is a small island – sports mad, but small. We can build a top-class Irish league, teams from which could do as well as teams from Scotland, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and so on (hey, a Portuguese side won the Champions’ League recently – could be Linfield in the distant future!) and might claim the occasional scalp from one of the big boys. I think most fans would still see this as a desirable outcome, even if the Premiership still resided on another planet?

    On the other hand, the Premiership can’t compete with local soccer – because local soccer is HERE. For most people, watching the Premiership means sitting on the sofa or going to the pub, whereas watching Glentoran might mean a trip to Derry or an overnight stay in Galway or a weekend in Cork. (And you’d be bringing the family to what you knew would be a safe environment.) Or, of course, a big derby encounter with the Blues. The Premiership is great and all, it’s just that, for most people, it’s just TV. And even great TV can’t compete with being in the stadium when your team snatches a late winner or nicks a crucial point away from home.

    These are just some of the ways in which the chances of such a league taking off might be maximised.

    (Re Scotland – I think one of the problems has been the existence of the Old Firm. Aside from positive discrimination, how do you prevent them from using their great power to keep themselves pre-eminent at the expense of the smaller clubs? In Ireland we would not have an Old Firm and the elite 12 would at least begin from a position of equality.)

  • true fan

    Billy, you’re boring proposal is thinly disguised as a back-door route to ann All-Ireland football team.

    You have been sussed by the GAWA.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Realist

    “The reason why many fans in Northern Ireland would not be in favour of an All Ireland league is because they would see it as going some way down the line towards an All Ireland national side – there is deep suspicion, heightened by the likes of Ahern’s comments.”

    They shouldn’t be suspicious. It shouldn’t be a surprise that a Fianna Fail minister would want to see unification in all spheres of Irish life. But remember – the guy is only making a proposal, putting a point of view. He’s not out to get you.

    I can understand that some NI fans would fear an all-Ireland league as it might be seen as the thin end of the wedge – but the thing is, the only thing that would increase the pressure for an all-Ireland team would be the success of an all-Ireland league. It would be a very positive kind of pressure.

    “The autonomy of the Irish Football Association in fielding “Northern Ireland” international sides is not negotiable, as far as I am concerned.”

    Again you have nothing to worry about. There’s only one way a unified Irish national team will ever take the field and that is through the agreement of the IFA and FAI. There’s no other way.

    If however the unlikely scenario ever came about that there was a push within the IFA to support a unified team, you would be entitled to oppose it. If you lost the vote, I suppose you’d have to accept the democratic wishes of the Association. (A bit like the GAA delegates who lost the votes on Rules 21 and 42.)

    But I’d say the chances of that happening any time soon are slim.

    “Take away the posturing about an All Ireland team, provide some guarantees as to the future autonomy of a “Northern Ireland” international team and I would be sure many more fans here would fully welcome the establishment of an all island league structure.”

    But you’re overlooking the fact that it’s not up to me to provide “guarantees” about the NI international team – the IFA is that guarantee. Nothing will happen that they don’t agree to.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    True Fan

    How can there be an all-Ireland international team without the IFA’s agreement and active participation?

    If there is ever an all-Ireland team it will be with the consent of the northern footballing fraternity – how could it be otherwise?

  • Doctor Who

    Billy as you can see from my previous post I am very much in favour of an All Ireland League, the two associations can remain seperate.

    I do not think though that the existing associations are capable of running a bath, so a breakaway body with hefty financial clout will be needed to form an All Ireland premier league.

    Northern Ireland fans like myself have nothing to fear as our own association would remain seperate.

    Don´t agree with initial 12, Glenavon have the best provincial stadium in Ireland and when playing well attract a huge support.

    Derby games are also needed, as for Donegal Celtic..absolutely no right to be included because they have the word Celtic in their title.

    Such a League might enable Linfield or Glentoran to move to a new stadium in Ormeau Park, thus enabling NI fans to attend internationals in the city and not the ridiculous proposed stadium at the maze.

    It´s all pie in the sky at the moment, huge obstscles to overcome but we need a few big voices from the world of football and commerce and less noise from Politicians like Ahernia.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Doctor Who

    “Billy as you can see from my previous post I am very much in favour of an All Ireland League, the two associations can remain seperate.”

    Glad to have you aboard sah. I’m in favour of a single association, but that’s really neither here nor there. The two associations will do what they think it’s in their interests to do, and no unification can happen without both consenting. That seems unlikely any time soon, which is why I suggested parking the issue.

    “I do not think though that the existing associations are capable of running a bath, so a breakaway body with hefty financial clout will be needed to form an All Ireland premier league.”

    The first part is definitely correct – but surely a breakaway group recognised by neither IFA nor FAI would be unlikely to be recognised by UEFA or FIFA? But anyway, let’s not get bogged down in detail: with good old fashioned horse-trading, arm-twisting and back-room dealing it should be possible to have an Irish Premier League body, officially devolved from IFA/FAI but in reality independent.

    “Northern Ireland fans like myself have nothing to fear as our own association would remain seperate.”

    Again, that’s a matter for your own association. I’d like to see the IFA agree to merge with the FAI, but until that happens there can be no all-Ireland team. It’s up to the members of the IFA – like yourself – to make that decision. (Though also, natch, to abide by decisions made – even if you don’t like them. The GAA has had a few calls like this in recent years.)

    “Don´t agree with initial 12, Glenavon have the best provincial stadium in Ireland and when playing well attract a huge support.”

    Ah well now, I only included eight clubs that I thought would be bankers. Glenavon would be a contender for one of the other slots – though their mediocrity in recent years and their proximity to Portadown, whose record demands inclusion, might work against them. But we’re getting wildly hypothetical now…

    “Derby games are also needed, as for Donegal Celtic..absolutely no right to be included because they have the word Celtic in their title.”

    I would envisage up to four clubs in Dublin and a minimum of two, perhaps three in Belfast. Also, in the enlarged format, Portadown v Linfield/Glentoran would become a kind of derby, as would Linfield-Derry. These games would also be much bigger occasions than at present – you might get seven or eight Blues/Glens games in a season now, when half as many would be twice as good.

    And as I was suggesting, at present I think Linfield/Shelbourne would be the real fault line. Not a local derby, but the two best teams in the land a la the ManU/Arsenal rivalry of the pre-Abramovich years, and including a tasty Belfast v Dublin theme to boot.

    “Such a League might enable Linfield or Glentoran to move to a new stadium in Ormeau Park, thus enabling NI fans to attend internationals in the city and not the ridiculous proposed stadium at the maze.”

    Indeed it might. I would suggest that within a few years a multi-purpose 25,000 stadium at Ormeau Park or Maysfield might be filled ten times in a good year. (Rugby internationals, Ulster Heineken Cup games, soccer All Ireland cup final, GAA Ulster semi-finals, Linfield v Glentoran (x2), Linfield v Shelbourne (x2).)

    “It´s all pie in the sky at the moment, huge obstscles to overcome but we need a few big voices from the world of football and commerce and less noise from Politicians like Ahernia.”

    No, we need big voices from football and commerce AS WELL AS politicians like Ahern. It’s a shame the IFA has reacted rather than responded to his statement. I wish they had said: “No to an all-Ireland team, but many people within the game in Northern Ireland are very interested in discussing ideas about an all-Ireland league, and ways in which we can develop the game across the island more generally.”

    Instead, as I say, we get the usual reactionary fulminations.

    Maybe next time….

  • kensei

    The other important thing I think an All Ireland soccer league would have to do is work with the other sports on the island rather than trying to compete directly with them. So, perhaps running ticket deal with local rugby or GAA clubs so that you might be able to get a ticket for one sport on Saturday and another on Sunday, or running the league in the off season in other sports and doing a unified season ticket.

    The other thing you might want to do is link up with Premiership or Continental clubs as a proving ground for young or out of form players. Getting a bit more talent in quickly might help raise the level of everyone’s game and it’s going to take time for Academies to get on stream and produce talent. You don’t want interest to die in the meantime.

    It’s the start up costs of a truly successful All Ireland league that get me. You’d need really decent stadiums which cost a lot of money, which would require government money or an Oil Billionaire. Neither looks likely.

  • Realist

    true fan,

    “You have been sussed by the GAWA”

    In your case, shouldn’t that be RW&BA?

    Earlier in the thread you stated:

    “Not as many wear red, white and blue as was the case 10-20 years ago but some including me, still do”

  • Realist

    Billy Pilgrim,

    I spent some time earlier composing a fairly detailed response to your detailed proposals of yesterday, only to find that when I went to post, the post character limit was exceeded – having not saved my reply, I then lost the lot.

    Rather than go through it all again, I would be grateful if you would kindly post again with bullet points of your key proposals.

    Cheers.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Realist

    No problem. Okay, let’s say there is sufficient start-up capital in place, mostly coming from government:

    All senior clubs entitled to apply for membership of an “elite 12” who will form a new breakaway Premier League. Successful clubs to be chosen by panel drawn from IFA, FAI and governments, and according to pre-agreed criteria. Successful clubs will secure funding to allow for investment, and will be exempt from relegation for a period of perhaps five years, allowing them time and space to establish themselves as centres of footballing excellence.
    Conditions would include:
    a) Each club employs a government-agreed independent financial controller to oversee spending. Such a controller would have the power of veto over spending plans (eg short-term or vanity signings)

    b) Applications must include feasibility studies and plans for upgrading of stadia to meet UEFA standards (four-sided all-seater venues, each with a minimum of say 12,000 seats, meeting stringent safety regulations and including all the family-friendly facilities of modern stadia.)

    c) Applications must include detailed – and convincing – plans for Youth Academies aimed at developing and coaching young players in the club’s hinterland

    d) Applications must include detailed plans for anti-sectarian campaigns, and contingency plans for occasions when sectarianism does rear its ugly head (eg workable penalties such as lengthy or lifetime bans from grounds for spectators engaged in sectarian behaviour) – and evidence of a zero-tolerance approach to the issue);

    e) all games would be all-ticket, and tickets would only be available through clubs. Each club would undertake to organise a “Friends of Linfield / Shelbourne” ticketing organisation which individual fans would be entitled to join (no fee but open only to those for whom the club is prepared to take responsibility) and through which tickets would be distributed.

    f) the twelve clubs would between them elect an Executive Security Officer to liaise with PSNI and Gardai ahead of all fixtures. He would be confined to a fixed one-term, three-year tenure – thereby ensuring independence from football politics. His powers would include draconian provisions including the right to unilaterally order postponements, ban away fans, or order that matches be played behind closed doors

    The new league would be run by a dedicated executive panel of no more than six members elected from a joint IFA/FAI congress (congress to be organised on a basis agreed between the two Associations).
    Successful clubs would represent their league in UEFA competition.

    IFA and FAI slash their overheads and cut the ranks of blazers in each organisation by at least 50 per cent. This process would be overseen by government-appointed overseers.

    During the initial five year period in which relegation is suspended, initially the lower leagues north and south would continue to operate separately. The respective “second divisions” would amalgamate after two or three years (creating all-island second and third divisions) the “third divisions” after four years (creating fourth and fifth divisions) and so on.

  • Realist

    Billy Pilgrim,

    Thanks for your post and apologies for not getting back to you sooner.

    a/ Seems a sensible idea, in relation to overseeing the neccessary Government funding.
    Not sure what you mean by “vanity signings”?

    b/ I think the 12,000 minimum requirement is too high. Otherwise, I’m in agreement.

    What about the possibilty of groundshare arrangements?

    c/ Many clubs already operate vibrant youth set ups.

    d/ This work is already in progress. The UEFA “10 Point Plan”, which is applicable to all clubs, underpins this requirement. On of the keys to making this work is effective stewarding – something which is sadly lacking in the IL.

    e/ Not sure about all games being all ticket. Certainly the Setanta Cup attendances have been largely poor – these games are all ticket.

    For travelling fans to more “contentious” games, I would suggest tickets be distributed only to members and season ticket holders in the first instance, with a travel card indentity system in place. This is currently the situation for Linfield games in the Republic in the Setanta Cup.

    f/ Clubs in the Setanta Cup currently liase very closely with the PSNI and Gardai for cross border fixtures.

    “IFA and FAI slash their overheads and cut the ranks of blazers in each organisation by at least 50 per cent. This process would be overseen by government-appointed overseers”

    I think the two businesses (IFA & FAI) should not be forced to do anything.

    It is up to them to run their businesses at a profit.

    Undoubtedly, there are too many “blazers” in each Association, but many of those are not on the payroll.

    “During the initial five year period in which relegation is suspended, initially the lower leagues north and south would continue to operate separately. The respective “second divisions” would amalgamate after two or three years (creating all-island second and third divisions) the “third divisions” after four years (creating fourth and fifth divisions) and so on”

    I would be against a delay in implementing promotion/relegation.

    This would, in my view, stagnate a “competitive” edge to many games, which would be reflected in attendances.

    I also don’t see merit in the “lower” divisions being set up on an all island basis, not least for financial reasons.

    Ballymoney travelling to say Clonakilty is a non runnner.

    Having North and South “feeder” leagues would be more appropriate – akin to the English Conference set up.

    This would also copper fasten autonomy for the respective Associations.

    I found the comments of Roddy Collins (Derry City) earlier this week very interesting.

    Following on from comments made by an official at the FAI in the aftermath of Ahern’s statement, Collins stated that he felt the Setanta Cup was in danger of failing.

    The truth is that the Setanta Cup has not been the raving success that many expected in terms of attendances.

    Catch 22.

    The games are squeezed in on Monday or Tuesday evenings – to suit Setanta scheduling.

    If the games were to be played on a Saturday, they would attract bigger attendances.

    Setanta have more attractive fixtures to show on a Saturday.

  • Billy P

    While your plan looks very interesting, I think this part of it is its Achille’s Heel:

    Such a league, were it to come into existence, would have to secure substantial start-up funding so that the twelve clubs inaugurating the new league would be confident of their financial future. Such funding could only really come from government – I can’t see where else it would come from, though of course all other avenues ought to be explored. You’d be talking about at least £100 million just to start with, but if the political will existed then it might be doable.

    The problem here is that every other sporting association in Ireland, from the GAA and IRFU down to the Irish Tiddlywinks Federation, will go to the government(s) and demand that they too get a wheelbarrow-load of public loot for their games.

    Any funds for this initiative would have to come from elsewhere.

  • Realist

    In my previous post, I meant Jim Roddy of Derry City Football Club, not Roddy Collins.

  • Big Joe

    Would they play in green or orange?