The 'Conroy Report' into the League of Ireland was published last night. It was presented to the media this morning. Eamon Dunphy was quick out of the traps to call the report 'bullshit' and 'spin' (see why here).
The report contains some good news. For the fourth year in a row, attendances are on the increase. The U17 and U19 Leagues have been hailed as huge positives.
Conroy also concluded that the clubs were well resourced in the sporting area, but fell short in the business, commercial and community relations arena.
1,700 football fans were interviewed as part of the survey. Of those, a number count themselves as former supporters of League of Ireland clubs. They were asked why they no longer attend games. The results are instructive.
NOTE: Several respondents clearly cited multiple reasons.
- 31.4% cited the lack of adequate facilities and the quality of the ground for their non-attendance
- 30.2% cited the lack of attractiveness of attending a game. This appeared to be centred around the attractiveness of the product as a whole as distinct from the attractiveness of the football on offer.
- 23.2% said the quality of the play was poor.
- 22.9% said the cost involved in attending a game was to blame.
- 11.6% referred to a negative experience at a previous game (with reference to this, in answer to Q.9, 'why are you no longer supporting an SSE Airtricity League Club?', several respondents referred to 'rowdy atmosphere and bad language' - unheard of in England, apparently)
- 48.8% referenced 'Other'
Assuming the respondents are being honest with those surveying, then the importance of improving 'facilities' becomes fully apparent. Therefore, the contribution of one respondent who said that LOI clubs 'need to sell more than just the match' is especially salient.
Of those fans who have never supported a League of Ireland club, the following four reasons were cited.
- No local team
- Living outside of Ireland
- The quality of the football is poor
- Facilities are not good enough
Tomorrow, is the 25th anniversary of Shamrock Rovers inaugural League game in the RDS against Brian Kerr's St. Patrick's Athletic, a match attended by over 20,000 people. Read about that here.
Read more: AUDIO: Liam George On Why Ireland Should Be Happy At Jack Grealish's Decision