With the season over now in Ireland one would be forgiven for thinking that football comes to a halt in the country.
However, it doesn’t for those of us who are working or have worked in football know that the off season is the busiest time for clubs with more financial pressure as there are no matches to provide regular income. One of the best pieces I have ever read which summed up how life is in a club in the off season is by John O’Sullivan who is a former CEO of Cork City and Limerick F.C., since leaving Limerick he has started a blog which gives an incredible insight into how clubs are run in Ireland. The blog is called ‘Ninety plus four’and the link to the piece on life in the off season is here
It’s well worth a read for any football fan as I would imagine that the situation isn’t too dissimilar for clubs in Estonia.
A couple of weeks ago I went over to Chesterfield to catch a game there. They are an English club who play in Skybet League One and are managed by Paul Cook who used to manage Sligo Rovers when I was Club Promotions Officer at the club and he had invited myself and Mary McGowan is the former club secretary over to watch a game. Indeed their a strong Sligo enclave in situ in the Proact Stadium as Paul’s former assistant manager Gerry Carr is the Academy Director of Chesterfield. He also has two former Sligo players in his squad in Eoin Doyle and Romuald Boco. Doyle is currently one of the top scorers in the England as a whole and if he continues at this rate it won’t be long until he attracts attention from clubs at a higher level. I was over for a couple of days and was taken aback by how warmly we were welcomed and received. The club threw its doors open for us and for me especially it was fascinating to get an insight into a club in England operates.
They have a lovely compact ground in the Proact which is a 10,500 all seater stadium and in this they have their club shop, club offices, media centre, physio room, coaching staff offices and of course conference and banqueting suites and lounges. These are crucial for the club for the continual income that they generate outside of a match day. I made my presentation on my time with Sligo Rovers to their coaching and media staff and it was very well received and again just emphasised my point that nearly all clubs face common problems and barriers. It was a Tuesday night game that we went to as they played host to Swindon Town. There was a good crowd of over 6,500 in attendance and from the start I was impressed with the standard which was higher than I had thought it would be. There were 22 impressive physical athletes in the pitch and the game was played at a high tempo with both teams attacking and counter attacking when necessary. Chesterfield started well but couldn’t capitalise on that as they ended up losing 3-0. At the time of writing they are 11th in the league which isn’t too bad seeing as they have just been promoted. Given the football that they are capable of I think they could well end up making the play-offs or not be far off it.
Having watched the game I have to say that either of those teams would have beaten a team from the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division. That’s not to say that players from the SSE Airtricity League wouldn’t be able to play in League One as they have shown that the can and indeed play at a higher level as well. There is a difference in terms of the fitness and tempo of the game and that would take getting used to and I would say that the same would apply to any player coming over from Estonia. On that note congratulations to Levadia on winning the league, could be potential Champions League opponents for Irish champions Dundalk next year, we’ll have to wait for the draw!
Until the next time,