While it takes no great genius to realise that major investment is needed in Irish domestic soccer, a recent FIFPro report reaffirms such beliefs.
The World Player's Union released its 2016 'global employment report' which makes for interesting, and - at times - bleak reading. The level of research is admirable as 14,000 players from around the globe were polled. The aim of the study is to highlight that the depicted lavish lifestyle of footballers only truly exists at an elite level.
Theo van Seggelen, the secretary general of Fifpro said;
This is about the reality of our football industry, which is completely different from what most fans are thinking. It shows that not every football player has three different cars in three different colours.
We really see the report as a possibility for urgent change, because we cannot accept this situation any longer. It is confirmation of what we already know, but the problems are also even worse than I had thought. I hope clubs realise they have to feel really ashamed.
From an Irish perspective, the report highlights the lack of security and investment in the game today. For example, Ireland is amongst the worst countries in the world in terms of offering lengthy playing contracts. On average, Irish players receive 11.5 month contracts - which means only Brazil (10.7) ranks lower. Globally the average length is 23 months.
While another financial factor that comes into play is earning lower income, as 56.5% of respondents claim they make less than $1,000 per month. Quite harrowing in comparison to our Scottish counterparts where just 5.1% earn under the aforementioned salary.
While another field where Ireland places rather low is the availability of contract, with just over 18% stating they did not have a personal copy. In European terms, only Ukraine, Macedonia and Turkey rank higher. This is should be considered with the fact that only 4.6% of Irish players claim they received the required national annual leave - which just places the country outside Brazil, Egypt, Bolivia and Ghana.
The average for EU member states sits at 38%, which further suggests that Ireland's footballing landscape represents that of a economically developing country and not of those on the continent.
However, that being said there are a number of positives to take from the FIFPro report, as Ireland ranks as the best country in Europe in terms of satisfaction with healthcare - placed behind USA, Israel and Paraguay. And it seems, we're (almost) incorruptible - that or players are not admitting to it - as little over 2% have ever been approached to fix a match.
Despite this, it does not outweigh the fact that those playing domestic football in this country are struggling to support themselves as lowly wages and minuscule contracts do little in terms of financial security. If the game is to survive in Ireland then there has to be an investment in grassroots level immediately before conditions plunge into a state of disrepair.
The 2016 FIFPro report can be read in full HERE.
*176 players from across the two divisions were contacted for the FIFPro report.