Are heavy defeats in glamour games damaging to the League of Ireland brand?
Fans who follow the fortunes of the Scottish team sporting the famous green and white hoops would’ve been happy with the news that Celtic were coming back to Dublin this summer. The Scottish treble winners have confirmed they will face Shamrock Rovers in a friendly at the Tallaght Stadium on July 7th.
This will be an important occasion for Shamrock Rovers as the funds raised from the sold out signs that will inevitably go up at the Tallaght Stadium will be vital for the club, aside from the financial windfall associated with selling almost 7,000 tickets at prices ranging from €45, €30, €17.50 – what are benefits from this?
Last year Rovers were the football equivalent of a bum put in the squared circule to make a prize fighter look good. The financial gain must outweigh any potential tarnish a heavy defeat brings to their brand. A year ago Rovers were stuffed 0-9 by Celtic in Tallaght.
They were the shirt but in reality it was not a Shamrock Rovers team that took to the field that day, a mish-mash of youth team players and trialists. Celtic fielded a full strength squad that even playing in 3rd gear easily dispatched a group that had never played together before.
The game came at a bad time if the goal was for it to be any way competitive, Stephen Bradley was left with little choice but to field a third string side. The fixture closely followed a Europa League win over Icelandic side Stjarnan and was sandwiched in-between the game with Czech side Mlada Boleslav in the second qualifying round of the competition.
There’s a strong chance the casual fan who came to the game or watched it live in TV doesn’t know about the circumstances, there is a stronger chance they couldn’t care. They’ll have left Tallaght under the impression that Rovers are shite and the 9-0 hammering confirmed their preconceived notions that the League of Ireland is brutal. Bradley will find himself similarly hamstrung in July when Celtic come to Tallaght the day after they face Cork City in Turners Cross.
In sport, perception is reality and watching Ireland’s self proclaimed biggest club succumb to what would amount to a record defeat if friendly clashes were counted does them a disservice. It makes the league look hokey. Opportunities to paint the domestic game in a positive light should be seized not spurned. Rovers will benefit financially, this will do wonders for their bank balance but what about their brand? What about the perception of the league among the general public and the wider football community in Scotland?
In what other business would an opportunity to showcase a product leave potential customers knowing it is in every way inferior to the competition. Being punching bags for the big boys does the League of Ireland no favours. The short sighted vision will not benefit the club in the long run; but they will dine for a day with the chunk of change that comes with a full house. They’ll also have 4,000 punters who could potentially become paying customers leave Tallaght thinking – why would I bother coming back to watch this?
Match tickets go on sale from 1pm on Wednesday.
More information https://shamrockrovers.ie/