Almost three weeks have now passed since the FAI's board of management confirmed that the 12-team Premier Division would continue next year, with the more attractive one-league system not being implemented, with little thought given to clubs in the First Division?
It once again begs the question that I posed in a piece on this site eight months ago, ‘Who cares about the First Division?’. The decision to remain with a 12-team top tier basically answered that question. Who cares about the First Division? The FAI’s decision seems to suggest that they certainly don’t seem to.
Monaghan United’s departure midway through the season left a hole in the Premier Division, meaning that no team would be automatically relegated to the bottom tier. This ‘hole’ in the Premier Division will now be transferred to the First Division where there are, currently, just seven other teams to fill the lower tier, SEVEN.
Eight teams last season was a drop of three from the previous season, and now it could be down to seven. That of course fails to take into account the Galway situation, with a new report suggesting that there only be one team in the city.
With Mervue United and Salthill Devon both in the First Division this season, do they deserve to lose their place? While you may be of the opinion that they may offer little to the league, that shouldn’t mean they should not be allowed continue in 2013, having done nothing wrong since entering the league.
What if they are merged one team? That leaves a possible six-team league. And that also depends on whether the other six would want to continue in a league that continues to decline, with not an ounce of optimism around to help it survive. It’s known as the graveyard. It’s slowly turning in one.
The FAI stated that they would ‘seek expressions of interest’ from teams that may be interested in joining the league. Last season only eight teams managed to secure places in the league, and with less and less money being put into football clubs, it leaves the division in a tricky spot.
Seeking expressions from interested clubs is one thing, but do the standards have to drop to allow these teams to enter the league? Do the standards of licensing, standards of facilities and the standard of football not have to drop too?
The decision to keep a 12-team top tier may cause teams to drop out of the league. And why? Because Premier Division teams don’t want to have to play teams from the First Division. This is surely bigger than that. This is the life and blood of people. This is the life and blood of football clubs who have been around longer than the people who now run them.
Understandably, many clubs aren't happy. The First Division teams want one league, while some of the Premier Division clubs don’t. Some clubs in the top tier want big games against Bohs, Shamrock Rovers, and St Pat's. And they don’t want to exchange them for a game against Athlone or Wexford Youths.
With no disrespect to those clubs, they don’t have the draw of the big guns. These Premier Division clubs are looking out for themselves. They need to survive. But at what cost to the others?
Their survival looks set to be at the cost of First Division clubs though, who look to be slowly driven into the grave. A lack of planning and a lack of leadership from the authorities have started the end for the First Division and its clubs. It would be great to be wrong, but it’s obvious to teams in the lower league. The simple truth is the First Division is dying a death, and nobody is stopping it.
Brendan White is Extratime News Editor and is responsible for the news section of Extratime.ie. Brendan also covers matches in Dublin and Waterford. You can contact Brendan at email@example.com or on twitter @whitebrendan.