Just give Rovers the money

THE survival of Shamrock Rovers football club is one of the genuinely heroic stories of Irish sport. Since 1987, when the club ‘departed’ their beloved Glenmalure Park in Miltown it has been tossed from pillar to post.

Rovers have played at Tolka Park, Morton Stadium, Dalymount Park, The RDS and Richmond Park. There has been precious little success and many heartaches along the way.

In recent weeks the club has again sailed perilously close to the rocks. They owe their players up to €40,000 and at the same time relegation from the Premier Division has become a real danger. Some people must fear that relegation would be the final nail in the coffin.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Shamrock Rovers’ main problem is that they have no permanent home. Their new stadium in Tallaght is half built but the club does not have the money to finish it. A number of investors and ideas have come and gone, including the fairly bizarre one of ground-sharing with the Dublin gaelic football team.

Enough is enough. Rovers’ supporters have done their time in purgatory. It’s time for the redemption to take place.

Let’s be pragmatic. As things stand the State has made a big investment in Rovers. The land was contributed by South Dublin County Council and by the Department of Education. Public funds have been used in the building work completed to date. And, as things stand, the State has received no benefit from its investment.

Remember this. What has been contributed so far was as much an investment in Tallaght as it was in Rovers. The area badly needs strong institutions to identify with and a local outlet for the its huge interest in football.

The government should now finish off the stadium as a gift both to Rovers and to Tallaght.

Irish soccer has demonstrated its ability to think outside the box and think progressively. Summer soccer was a radical change which has already produced benefits in Europe. Clubs like Bohs and Shels have adopted a full-time ethos. A local man is in charge of the National squad.

Building a National Stadium is the right thing to do. But domestic soccer is just as important. Putting Shamrock Rovers back on its feet would be a very valuable contribution.

Go back to the League of Ireland

THE Eircom League replaced the name of the National League.

And a good thing too because the term ‘National League’ never took flight at all.

To the vast majority of people here the “League of Ireland” is the accepted name for league soccer. Whatever the problems that led to the ‘League of Ireland’ being binned – the time has come to unbin it.

A strong brand is an asset, a bit like there being no such thing as bad publicity.

The ‘League of Ireland’ is a strong and enduring brand and any negatives can be overcome by good marketing.

And, I suppose, as money has to be made, what’s wrong with the ‘Eircom League of Ireland’?