All Ireland 2011 at the earliest…

I hesitate to blog a sports story these days, but here’s one from the FAI suggesting that there will be an All Ireland league for soccer, but it can’t happen until after its current contract with sponsors runs out in 2011.

  • RG Cuan

    Great news – it’s what is needed to revive soccer on the island.

  • RepublicanStones

    its common sense….but common sense is something we don’t adhere to in Ireland, i won’t hold my breath.

  • Why does the BBC think it appropriate to headline this story in such ominous tones – could it not be something other than a warning?

    isn’t it a good thing that the border ceases to be relevant in terms of Sport. Soccer is the odd ball in this situation – we have an All Ireland GAA league, all Ireland rugby league, cricket, hockey, athletics, swimming, lawn bowling (for all I know), and yet the soccer heads still cling to the border.

  • belfastpete

    This is desperatley needed, the standard of football is poor, the more competition the better, look forward to watching the wee reds lift the all ireland title

  • gaelgannaire

    Mick,

    “I hesitate to blog a sports story these days”

    Have you read this?

    http://www.george-orwell.org/The_Sporting_Spirit/0.html

  • “isn’t it a good thing that the border ceases to be relevant in terms of Sport.”

    Well it’s not self-evident and just because other (aside from GAA, smaller) sports manage it doesn’t mean it’s the best way.

    Given the first quote used, I’d say it’s another non-story.

    “Given time I think this may happen, I’m sure of that,”

    Err… So he’s sure he thinks it might happen. Slow news day or what? There are an infinite number of much more pressing matters for local football to deal with than some “pie-in-the-sky” pipe dream about an all-Ireland football league. At least not one that overrides the primacy of the current ‘national’ leagues.

  • kensei

    “I hesitate to blog a sports story these days”

    Why? It must double your traffic :).

    beano

    “There are an infinite number of much more pressing matters for local football to deal with than some “pie-in-the-sky” pipe dream about an all-Ireland football league. At least not one that overrides the primacy of the current ‘national’ leagues.”

    Yeah, like how to improve standards, make leagues more competitive, get more sponsors and generate more interest. Wait, I can think of way……….

  • Good Greif

    Might most easily be achieved through an extension of the existing Setanta Cup, increasing number of teams participating or number of games played. Naturally the FAI and IFA won’t want to turn two FIFA seats into one by merging.

    Unfortunately I don’t have much faith in either organisation so there’s probably trouble ahead in truth. IFA laughably slow to introduce Sunday football, FAI laughable attempts at selecting a manager via the media…”panel of experts” indeed.

  • Razi

    Irish expansionism using sport??….nothing new there!

  • Jamesy

    “we have an All Ireland GAA league, all Ireland rugby league, cricket, hockey, athletics, swimming, lawn bowling (for all I know), and yet the soccer heads still cling to the border.”

    Posted by OILibhear Chromaill.

    OILibhear, What flag represents Ireland at national level?

  • Smokin’

    This isn’t football, this is soccer we’re talking about here. Ye langers.

  • Doctor Who

    A realistic timescale of 2011 is about right. With the right organisation from both bodies together with input from past profesionals and of course not forgetting an interested and credible sponsor, I have no doubts an all island league will benefit local football in Northern Ireland.

    Mick I understand your reluctance to start a sports blog as quite often this brings out the usual posts of one ireland etc. There is also undoubted pittfalls ahead with such a project so it´s better that those who care nothing about football, think for a moment and step back from the keyboard.

  • If eircom were willing to sponsor said all-Ireland league, I doubt there would be a problem writing a new contract starting from 2010 or 2009. Has anyone asked them?

  • T.Ruth

    Not a possibility by 2111. It presupposes a level of skill,efficiency and unselfishness not present in either set of FA legislators and that they could put players fans and a love of the game before their own personal interests and position.
    T.Ruth

  • Mick Fealty

    Niall Quinn a couple of years ago when I asked him a different but related question:

    “Most people look at it from the point of view that wouldn’t it be great to have the best of both teams. They look at the extra pool they could pick younger players from. But nobody looks at it from the other angle. Of the IFA and the FAI, half of them are going to lose their jobs so there’s fifty per cent already voting the other way. While the system is the way it is it won’t happen.”

    That one partner is now talking about a league at least, then I would say that is movement. Standards in world soccer are rising rapidly. And Irish players north and south are struggling to get the much fewer places there are now in the English Premiership.

    As for borders, well, they are not all physical. As evidenced by nearly every sports thread we put up on Slugger. It nearly always gets bent into a zero sum political game.

  • RepublicanStones

    i think that the advent of the ‘playstation generation’ is slowly but surely eating away at the size of the talent pool. the explosion of talent in the last 2 decades, from Africa, and lack of console availability oin that continent is surely no coincidence. if soccer was played with thumbs (thumball anyone?) Ireland would be right up there !

  • George

    Republicanstones,
    According to the WHO, Irish teenagers are the second most physically active in the world.

    Part of that is probably due to the fact that school fields weren’t all sold off in the last 30 years.

    The only thing is that lots of them aren’t playing soccer, it’s the GAA and its extensive facilities throughout the country that many are using.

  • The Dubliner

    “It nearly always gets bent into a zero sum political game.” – Mick Fealty

    And an all-Ireland football team isn’t political?

    “Personally I think it’s important that we set up a working group with possibly the two governments involved to see if it would work.” – John Delaney, FAI

    The political term ‘all-Ireland’ is designed to obscure that there are two sovereign and competing States involved, with the key phrase in that sentence from John Delaney being “two governments.”

    The politics is paradoxically put into sport by the predictable demands that it should be removed from sport, usually as expedients to censor Irish nationalism in the form of calling for the removal of the symbols of the Irish nation state such as its national flag and national anthem. Essentially, the nation state is encouraged to promote its own subjugation in order to appease those who did not recognise its right to self-determination. Those who made their own right to self-determination subject to the consent of those who oppose national self-determination see it as a step toward unifying the island under the same terms and conditions that apply under the GFA, believing that the Republic may yet be successfully hoodwinked into unifying the island under de facto British rule by, making the same mockery of self-determination that Northern nationalists made of it. So, the issue is political; and it is political to pretend otherwise.

  • iluvni

    The thoroughly underwhelming draw for this season’s Setanta Cup will see support for this competition dwindle yet further.
    Blues, Glens and Derry drawn together, oh so conveniently, yet again for the 3rd year in a row.
    Even the diehards are bored of those fixtures now.

    If they kill enthusiasm off for the Setanta, the idea of an all-island league is a non-starter.

  • RepublicanStones

    george, Ireland also has per capita one of the highest home penetration of games consoles in the world, we also buy more poetry books per capita than any other english-speaking people, so maybe the soccer nuts settle down to a little Yeats or Wordsworth after the pro-evo !

  • Mick Fealty

    TD,

    I was speaking of all sports threads, regardless of whether it has an apparent political component or not.

    Night all…

  • Oiliféar

    Dubliner, it’s difficult to believe that we occupy the same solar system, never mind the same island.

    “… usually as expedients to censor Irish nationalism in the form of calling for the removal of the symbols of the Irish nation state such as its national flag and national anthem. Essentially, the nation state is encouraged to promote its own subjugation in order to appease those who did not recognise its right to self-determination.”

    – You do realise that Sinn Féin chose the tricolour as the national flag, as opposed to infinitely more recognisable green field, in a deliberate attempt to make the symbols of the state more appealing to Protestants unionism. If it truly worries you that our national symbols might be diluted to appease those who did not recognise Ireland’s right to self-determination, stop. It has already happened. Every time you place your hand on your heart and bow your head in respect to the national flag, you skivvy to the whim of appeasing your British maters.

  • RepublicanStones

    Oiliféar, i disagree, i don’t believe the tricolour is a skivvy or an attempt to appease anyone. it was a symbolic hand of friendship, which unionists rather predictably chose to ignore, as the master never likes to learn the slave is actually his equal !

  • Oiliféar

    RepublicanStones, that was sarcasm. (See Dubliner’s post, the relevant part of which I quoted, to understand.)

    Though I must ask you, do comments such as those you made about unionist in the second half of your post do much to extend that same “hand of friendship” to unionists today? Or is that day done with?

  • RepublicanStones

    Oiliféar, i apologise, i have never been a master of humour. as to your question, to point out a flaw in unionism of that age is not to blow a raspberry in the face of unionism today !

  • willowfield

    DOCTOR WHO

    With the right organisation from both bodies together with input from past profesionals and of course not forgetting an interested and credible sponsor, I have no doubts an all island league will benefit local football in Northern Ireland.

    How will it benefit local football? It will financially benefit at most three individual clubs – four if you include Derry City – and be a financial disaster for all the others.

    THE DUBLINER

    The politics is paradoxically put into sport by the predictable demands that it should be removed from sport, usually as expedients to censor Irish nationalism in the form of calling for the removal of the symbols of the Irish nation state such as its national flag and national anthem.

    No-one calls for the removal of “the symbols of the Irish nation state” within “the Irish nation state”. It to the inappropriate use of those symbols outside “the Irish nation state”, or their use to represent an entity other than “the Irish nation state” to which there are objections.

  • I said it before I’ll say it again I do not want to see an all-Ireland football team. For years while Northern Ireland struggled you never heard calls for an all-Ireland team, RoI supporting people in NI just sniggred at the teams ineptness. Then all of a sudden NI get a few good wins and Robbie Keane develops 2 ducks feet in place of his boots and the FAI have the wonderful idea of employing muppets as managers (until recently). We’re now better than you, get over it and dry your eyes.

  • George

    Willowfield,
    It to the inappropriate use of those symbols outside “the Irish nation state”, or their use to represent an entity other than “the Irish nation state” to which there are objections.

    Except in Northern Ireland where the UK government approved and NI’s citizens voted to allow people the right to be British or Irish.

    Or have unionists forgotten the deal already?

  • willowfield

    Except in Northern Ireland where the UK government approved and NI’s citizens voted to allow people the right to be British or Irish.

    1. It is not in the gift of the UK, or any other, government to “allow” people the “right” to be British or Irish. We could be British, Irish or whatever we wanted to be before the GFA and we continue to have the capacity to be so now. The notion that we are dependent on a government to “allow” us these rights is grossly insulting.

    2. The GAA’s policy on using Southern symbols in NI is a political statement to which unionist objections are entirely reasonable, and any alteration to such policy would not remove anyone’s right to be British or Irish! The GAA, like any government, cannot take away anyone’s rights either.

    Or have unionists forgotten the deal already?

    The “deal” is completely irrelevant to the GAA’s inappropriate use of Southern symbols in NI, and unionists objections to such inappropriate use.

  • George

    Wilowfield,
    the people of Northern Ireland in a free and democratic referendum voted to recognise the birthright of all the people of Northern Ireland to identify themselves and be accepted as Irish or British, or both, as they may so choose.

    You find it inappropriate that some people identify themselves as Irish while playing sport. Tough. Get over it.

  • willowfield

    George

    You’re talking irrelevant, tiresome nonsense.

    I don’t find it “inappropriate” that some people identify themselves as Irish while playing sport.

    (As presumably you well know), I find it inappropriate for the Southern flag and anthem to be played and displayed at GAA matches in NI.

  • Lenny

    Willowfield

    It is you that’s tiresome.

    Why can’t you get over the fact that the tricolour and Soldiers Song are the flag and anthem of the majority of the people in Ireland. If you don’t want them to represent you that’s fine, exclude yourself but who gave you the right to exclude everyone else in the six counties.

    One league in Ireland would have to be an improvement on the current situation. One middling league is better than two crappy ones.

  • willowfield

    Lenny

    Why can’t you get over the fact that the tricolour and Soldiers Song are the flag and anthem of the Southern Ireland?

  • Greenflag

    ‘if soccer was played with thumbs (thumball anyone?) Ireland would be right up there ! ‘

    So thats why both the Republic and Norn Iron have failed to qualify for the European Nations and World Cup for . Will somebody tell them they’re supposed to kick the ball into the other teams net and not wait till the last minute of the game and allow the other team to score 🙁

    One way or the other given the numbers/demographics and comparative revenue streams – an Norn Iron team can expect to field a 2nd class outfit perhaps once every 25 years while the Republic might do so once every 15 years . Thus assuming there is ever a ‘United team ‘ they might qualify for the World Cup once every 20 years ?

  • Lenny

    Willowfield,

    So you have granted yourself the right of deciding for all citizens in the six counties their national anthem and flag.

  • [i]Willowfield,

    So you have granted yourself the right of deciding for all citizens in the six counties their national anthem and flag.

    Posted by Lenny on Jan 18, 2008 @ 01:35 PM[/i]

    Playing devils advocate here these thoughts are in no way my own just what the unionist/loyalist community are likely to retort with, but surely if a person didn’t like the anthem, flag and nationality or a country in favour of another country wouldn’t the appropriate couse of action be to immigrate to that country, is that not the course of least resistance? Do you demand the right to make unilateral decisions on bahalf of a whole country and you can’t deny that Northern Ireland is a country, the Dublin government accpted it, the Brits accepted it and even your own republican/nationalist politicians accepted it as part of Good Friday and later St Andrews.

  • Lenny

    Pounder

    I can certainly deny that northern Ireland is a country just as easily as you claim it is a country. I am not a northerner but if I was told that I should head south just because I regarded Amhrán na bhFiann as my anthem and the tricolour as my flag then I would have to surmise that the person telling me that does not respect my tradition. Your argument can be a two way street. What would you think if I were to say that people who regard GSTQ as their anthem and the Union Jack as their flag should emmigrate to Britain?

    It is not I who is making unilateral decisions on bahalf of a whole country. Rather it is Willowfield
    who is making decisions on behalf of all citizens in northern Ireland

  • willowfield

    I haven’t made any decisions, unilateral or otherwise, on behalf of “a whole country”.

    Sorry to disappoint.

  • As far as the existance of NI is concerned Northern Ireland is a legally recognised country, the boarder is illustrated in atlas’s throughout the world, this is a legal fact.

    The difference to what I suggested while playing devils advocate and what you said is that it’s the wishes of the majority of people in Northern Ireland to remain in the United Kingdom. In my chosen party we call this the Principal of consent.

    In the past a vocal minority tried to force their opinions and methods on a majority population, it was a country called South Africa.

    You accuse Willowfield of forcing his opinion down your throats yet you seem to be demanding the right to do the same and force a southern Irish identidy on unionists.

    My actual opinion is that for us to move forward we need to stop the petty squabbling over who said what 100 years ago and what ratty piece of cloth flys over Stormont, being in new agreed symbols if thats what it takes but move on. There are far more important things to do. But that would require Unionist and Republican politicians to remove their thumb from ass and actually serve the people who elected them. I don’t care how the boarder stands as long as I am safe, happy and secure within those boarders.

  • Prince Eoghan

    Whatever happened to the Celtic cup idea, anyone heard if that is going to go ahead?

    An all Ireland league is a no brainer here, money is the name of the game. Grudge matches and spectator interest, this fuels tv company money. And also gets the punter out of his warm house to go and support his/a team.

    Willow

    Are you a football man at all? I’ve read your contributions on these threads previously and can’t recall you actually talking about football. Perhaps you have and it has been smothered.

  • willowfield

    I suspect I’m more of a football man than you. I have been a regular attender of Irish League and international matches for 25 years. (I don’t sing songs in support of terrorism when I attend, though.)

  • Not a Linfield fan then Willow?

  • willowfield

    Absolutely not.

  • Prince Eoghan

    >>I suspect I’m more of a football man than you<< Howdje suspect that Willow? I've been going to fitba matches for 32 years((there ye are ;¬))I don’t sing songs in support of hate groups when I attend, though.) I was at fir park on Wednesday night freezing my arse off, listening to ugly bastards amongst the Rangers fans singing songs of hate. I did try to embolden the Gretna fans to sing about sending them back to England, before it dawned on me that that was where half of them lived. It's great to make an erse of yourself now and then, not that you would know willow.

  • willowfield

    You’re a glory-hunter with Celtic, though. I follow my local team: proper, grassroots community football.

    You also defend those who sing in support of hate groups, even if you don’t do so yourself.

  • Lenny

    Pounder

    “You accuse Willowfield of forcing his opinion down your throats yet you seem to be demanding the right to do the same and force a southern Irish identidy on unionists.”

    I did not accuse Willowfield of forcing anything down anyone’s throat. What I did accuse him of is bestowing on himself the right to decide the anthem and flag of every citizen in northern Ireland.
    Neither am I demanding the right to force a southern Irish identity on anyone. What I would like is for unionists to recognise that Amhrán na bhFiann is the anthem of the majority of the people in Ireland and drawing a line on the map of Ireland does not make Amhrán na bhFiann an exclusively southern anthem.

  • Prince Eoghan

    >>You’re a glory-hunter with Celtic, though. I follow my local team: proper, grassroots community football.<< Apart from my time away educating Australians I have lived no more than 3 miles from paradise. At the moment I live 10 mins walk away. Now did I ever tell you about the Lisbon Lions? The first northern European team to win the European cup. Or the time we were in Seville, reputed as being the largest mass movement of people for a sporting event, ever. I have five season books to take the family to watch Gretna, it's at fir park in Motherwell where Phil O'Donnell dropped dead. The dross served up by what passes for a Celtic team at the moment is stunting my boys fitba education, we rarely go, even when offered free tickets on a weekly basis at the moment(such is the dearth of quality, the fans stay away in droves). We will go and watch Gretna against Falkirk the morra, who in my opinion are an excellent fitba playing team. Who is your team Willow? Don't be coy now!