Richie Sadlier and Stephen Kenny call for government intervention to help League of Ireland
Former Ireland international Richie Sadlier and Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny have called for the government to assist the League of Ireland amid a difficult year for domestic football.
Both Bray Wanderers and Limerick FC have endured financial difficulties this season and have had well-documented issues with regards to player pay and Sadlier has said that players are leaving the league in Ireland due to a lack of interest, poor facilities and low media coverage
"It's understandable for players to want to play outside of this league if they get the opportunity to do so," Sadlier said on Soccer Republic.
"It's not a reflection of the club that they leave. It's not just a reflection on Dundalk and how they do business. I've spoken to some of the players that have left the various clubs and they were quite happy in the clubs that they played for - with the manager that they had, with the standard and the European experiences - but the opposition, the grounds that some of them are going to, they're playing in league games with six to eight hundred people at it.
"There's very little media coverage, there's no interest, the pitches are poor, the dressing rooms are tiny, we've been singing this song for a long, long time. It's the overall level that has to be increased and I think that costs money.
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"The clubs will say the FAI must do more, the FAI will say the clubs should take more responsibility and someone else will say the players should improve their standards.
“I think we need to look externally because the money isn’t there in the FAI at the moment. They’ve set up financially to focus on clearing the [Aviva] Stadium debt, which is understandable. That’s not going to change. The money isn’t there to invest in the league, so I think you need political representation in Leinster House.
“You need investment. You need someone from there to take a big picture view, to have a vision, to pump money into the game in the hope that all these things will increase. At the moment, I don't think there's any appetite whatsoever. You don’t hear it being discussed at that level.”
Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny agreed and said that there could be elite European football in Ireland if there was some genuine investment in infrastructure.
“There has to be vision at government level and certainly around the county councils around the country. There has to be vision from the sports minister to see that there could be elite European football in Ireland on a regular basis with some real investment in infrastructure.
“Prioritising that with clubs throughout the country and we could have a very, very vibrant league and these are all possibilities that exist.
"We would need to have a real blueprint from the government and the FAI to project this forward.”