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2007 League of Ireland

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Title: 2007 League of Ireland  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Galway United F.C., Richie Baker (Irish footballer), Drogheda United F.C., Cobh Ramblers F.C., Belfield Park, Dean Delany, Karl Bermingham, Guy Bates, Danny Ventre, Keith Fahey
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

2007 League of Ireland

League of Ireland
Season 2007
The clubs competing in the 2007 FAI eircom League of Ireland.

The League of Ireland, consisting of both the League of Ireland Premier Division and the League of Ireland First Division, kicked off in March 2007. The competition remained under the sponsorship of Irish telecommunications company, eircom.

Rather than being decided by the usual process of relegation and promotion, the participants of the respective Premier and First Divisions for 2007 were chosen by way of a ranking process carried out by an Independent Assessment Group appointed by the Football Association of Ireland.

Shelbourne F.C. should have been the defending champions, having won the title in November 2006. However, they were prevented from doing so after the FAI decided that the club should be relegated from the top division for financial reasons prior to the beginning of the 2007 season. While their participation in the Premier Division was removed due to extreme financial trouble at the club, which had been present throughout the 2006 season, the title they won that season was not stripped from them.[1]

Pre-season developments

The Independent Assessment group

On 29 June 2006 the clubs of the League of Ireland had voted to accept John Delaney's proposals for change in the league system.[2] The league make-up for 2007 would be decided by an Independent Assessment Group chaired by former FAI President Des Casey and appointed by the FAI. This group was to work from a set of pre-determined criteria for selection, taking factors such as past performance, current well-being and future development plans into account. Initially former footballer Niall Quinn was a member of the group before becoming chairman of Sunderland FC.

The decision of the Group was finally announced on 11 December in the Citywest Hotel, Dublin.[3] The existing 21 clubs of the League of Ireland that took part in the process were ranked on the basis of points scored as a result of their achievements over the past five seasons on the pitch and how they measured up against specific criteria covering areas such as infrastructure, governance, strategic planning, finance, youth development and marketing. Twelve football clubs were chosen to participate in the League of Ireland Premier Division. A large quantity of speculation surrounded this decision. It was seen as certain that Shelbourne (due to their past successes and despite their financial uncertainty -, Derry City, Drogheda United, Cork City, Bohemians, St. Patrick's Athletic, Longford Town, Sligo Rovers, Shamrock Rovers and UCD would feature. Bray Wanderers were next in line. That left one remaining place which was expected to be filled by either Waterford United, Galway United or Dundalk. Out of these three Galway United were selected to participate.

Galway had issued a statement on their website prior to the official announcement that claimed they would be playing in the Premier Division but the club then said that it was only a conclusion they themselves reached after carrying out their own assessment of criteria. Their geographical status and facilities strengthened their case for inclusion.

The final selection sparked controversy in Dundalk. Despite the fact that Dundalk FC had won what they perceived to be or believed should have been the annual promotion/relegation Play-Off, and what would have been a promotion/relegation game in any other normal season, in November 2006, they were one of the teams omitted from the 2007 League of Ireland Premier Division and were, instead, chosen to play in the League of Ireland First Division. Dundalk, however, argued that they had a right to compete in the Premier Division following their Play-Off defeat of Waterford United. "What was the point of the league taking our players and fans all the way down to Waterford if it counted for nothing?", questioned one official even though they were one of the clubs to vote for the FAI's new proposals earlier in 2006. Dundalk's protests had no real weight, however, as the 2006 season's game had never been billed as a promotion/relegation fixture. Furthermore, the claim that the game counted for nothing was technically incorrect - the Play-Off's purpose was solely to decide which teams were to be positioned in 12th and 13th place within the overall season standings of all 21 clubs for the purpose of the IAG's process and their dispensing of assessment points, and thus, it did contribute points to Dundalk's final assessment tally. However, that was little consolation. The difference between the two positions of 12th and 13th was a mere point anyway, which in the grand scheme of things did not make a significant difference to the final decision of the IAG. Although the game did count for something, it counted for very little and verged on pointlessness. Meanwhile, Galway United, who finished the season in 3rd place behind Dundalk's 2nd were chosen for the Premier Division. After a subsequent meeting with the FAI, Dundalk's CEO, Gerry Matthews, expressed his satisfaction with the process, which he viewed to be above board.[4]

Ranking system

Entry into the Premier Division was determined by the ranking in points of the League of Ireland teams by the Independent Assessment Group conforming to a number of selection criteria. The twelve highest ranked teams were entered into the Premier Division for 2007, while the remainder made up the First Division on condition of each holding a relevant participation licence.

Entry criteria and points allocation

There was a 50-50 sporting/non-sporting breakdown to reinforce the FAI's position that on and off-pitch standards were of equal importance.

Criteria Scoring Detailed Breakdown / Notes
2002-03 - 2005 Seasons 30% Performances across the league, cups and European competition in the 2002-03; 2003; 2004 and 2005 playing seasons were scored in accordance with the system approved. Tallied points equated to rankings from 1 through to 21 and scoring points were allocated from 300 pts. through to 90 pts.
2006 Season 20% FIFA system was used as a template. Total points gained across all competitions during the season were tallied and used to rank clubs from 1 to 21. Scoring points were assigned against rank from 200 pts. for the club ranked 1st through to 67 pts. for the club ranked 21st as follows:

200 - 193 - 187 - 180 - 173 - 167 - 160 - 153 - 147 - 140 - 133 - 127 - 120 - 113 - 107 - 100 - 93 - 87 - 80 - 73 - 67

Infrastructure 10% Considerations here included: Safe-holding (minimum of 3,000), unencumbered access, ownership, long-term lessee, number of

covered seats, plans regarding infrastructure development, etc.
Long-term view: Club Infrastructure Development Plan (CIDP) = 60 pts.
Immediate view: Stadium certificate = 40 pts.

Governance and Finance 15% Only those applicants eligible to apply for an 'A' licence were considered for the assessment process.

Governance: Organisational Structure / Suitability / Business plan / Stability / Ownership / Board and Roles = 50 pts.
Finance: Controls, Health Check, Status, etc. = 100 pts

Sustainability: Benchmarking, Youth Development and Strategic Planning 15% Benchmarking was based on licensing compliance record (i.e. 3-year trends) and provided the Independent Assessment Group with a clear picture of the applicant’s performance against the licensing requirements. It also provided a good indication as to progress made and the future sustainability/governance/infrastructure of applicants. The benchmarking process was carried out by the Licensing Unit and monitored by the Licensing Committee. Each applicant was asked to submit its strategy for the continuing development of its organisation. Club representatives were invited to meet with the IAG. The outcomes of the one-to-one meetings and the comprehensive analysis of the material provided allowed the IAG to form an opinion and allocate a score.

Benchmarking: Licensing compliance record = 30 pts. (10 pts. per year 04, 05 and 06)
Youth Development = 50 pts.
Previous performance (e.g. Evidence / Rollout of Technical Development plan) = 20 pts.
Plans for 07 (as per Licensing Requirements) = 10 pts.
Plans for the Future = 20 pts.
Each club was invited to meet the IAG (between 18–20 October) to discuss its strategy for development. Presentations and material provided = 70 pts.

Target Markets, Population Densities and Attendance Figures 10% Population data was used to highlight densities against existing clubs and the trends in their attendance rates. Those applicants, who stood alone in areas of large target markets and who have established a solid base of support as indicated by their consolidated attendance figures were allocated high scores in this category.

Top Attendances (Average of Three Seasons) = 30 pts.
Attendances weighted against league standings to recognise success in promoting club in challenging environment = 30 pts.
Future Plans = 40 pts.

Participation licences

Participation by teams was also subject to the granting of specific participation licences. Participation in the Premier Division is subject to the attaining of an 'A' licence, while participation in the First Division is subject to the attaining of a 'B' licence. The licence system is compulsory under UEFA rules and sets a lower caliber threshold for participation in each respective division in an attempt to maintain a consistent standard of quality, as well as to promote development.

Although Shelbourne, when originally assessed, were placed to play in the Premier Division, their Premier Division licence was revoked after a review in February 2007 and the club was awarded with a First Division licence instead. Similarly, Limerick F.C., who had a First Division spot reserved for them failed to receive the requisite First Division licence and were kicked out of the league and replaced by a new team, Limerick 37, who were awarded such a licence. The extinct Dublin City's place was taken by Wexford Youths F.C., who were also granted a First Division licence. Waterford United, being the next best-placed non-Premiership team, took the place of Shelbourne, having been awarded a Premier Division licence.

Final selection of clubs for 2007 season

The 12 clubs placed in the Premier Division:

The 10 clubs placed in the First Division:

The search for two new clubs

Following on from Dublin City's withdrawal from the League of Ireland Premier Division in the middle of the 2006 season, the number of clubs in the league was reduced to twenty-one (eleven in the Premier Division). This left an extra gap to fill which was taken by a club that may have otherwise played in the League of Ireland First Division. That in turn required a new club to be accepted into the league to fill the slot and make up the FAI's intended numbers in the First Division.

Furthermore, on 15 December 2006 it was revealed that Limerick FC, who were benchmarked to play in the First Division for the 2007 season subject to a successful licence appeal, were not granted the requisite licence by the FAI's Club Licensing First Instance Committee. They appealled to the Club Licensing Appeal Board but the initial decision was upheld.[5] The club licensing process governed by UEFA has been in operation since 2004 and sets out to ensure certain minimum standards are in place at every club. With almost €4,000 in outstanding fines, a below-par youth system and no stadium, as a long-term lease on Hogan Park had not been agreed, Limerick FC's league involvement came to the end of the road. The ruling meant that Limerick could have been without a senior soccer side for the 2007 season - a first in 70 years - but John Delaney, the FAI's chief executive, although disappointed, urged prospective applicants from the area to make a case for inclusion in the FAI-run league. Eager to welcome applications for a licence from other clubs in the Limerick area, he stated, "We want a healthy Limerick based club in the eircom League of Ireland and if interested entities seek a licence, we would assess them carefully for their suitability to meet the criteria required to play in the league."

The final identity of the possible two new clubs no longer remained unknown after it was announced on 6 February 2007 that Wexford Youths F.C., were invited to partake. The establishment of the new side owed to a growing support for a senior club in County Wexford, led by millionaire construction magnate Mick Wallace.[6] It was also understood that a new entity, known as Limerick 37, had formed and applied with the intention of taking the place of Limerick FC in the First Division for the 2007 season. Outside of Limerick and Wexford, other early indications had pointed to a possible new club from the south or west, in particular County Mayo or County Kerry but no potential development ever transpired on those fronts. If the FAI had not been successful in finding replacements due to a failure on the applicants' part in meeting the required standard for entry, they may have had to start the 2007 season with only 8 First Division sides as opposed to the preferred number of 10 clubs.

However, to add further complications to the beginning of the new season, Limerick FC chairman, Danny Drew, was granted an interim court injunction on 16 January 2007 stopping the introduction of any new clubs into the leagues. The injunction prevented the FAI from negotiating any contracts with any new entity to replace Limerick FC for a period. It was also believed that the injunction stopped the FAI from granting a licence to another new team and also prevented the participation agreement being signed by any of the proposed new national league sides which had applied for a licence. Worries were that the decision could have resulted in the formation of the new look Premier Division and First Division being put back while the case ran its course as initially the FAI had planned to have all clubs signed up to the participation agreement by 17 January 2007.[7] However, the case failed at the subsequent stage and it seemed only to have delayed the expected invitation of Limerick 37. The new club were eventually invited to join the League of Ireland First Division on 9 February 2007, having been awarded with a First Division licence.[8] Both Limerick 37 and Wexford Youths accepted their invitations.

Shelbourne's financial crisis and judicial relegation

Despite having battled with dire finances for much of the 2006 season, mainly due to market risk-taking in the drive for success, over-expenditure on player-purchase fees, high wages, low home attendance rates and continuing tax debts, Shelbourne actually managed to win the title. However, they had been hit with three winding-up orders by the Office of the Revenue Commissioners within a spell of nine months but just about managed to gather enough funds and investment to keep the tax collectors off their backs and keep the club running on each occasion. This was at the expense of the players, though, who had gone for weeks without their wages and it seemed that the only thing keeping them performing at the club was the season's climax and the drive for the title, as well as promises (which ultimately turned out to be empty) of a remedy. Once the season came to a close the rot set in and the general public were made fully aware of the true extent of how poor a state the club were in. Due to the finances, many found it extraordinary that Shelbourne had been awarded a Premier Division licence for 2007 by the Independent Assessment Group a few months earlier. They saw it as another chance to criticise the lack of transparency within the organisation that appointed the Group who were supposed to dispense licences to clubs who were solvent and financially stable for the foreseeable future - the Football Association of Ireland. The association has been well used to criticism of its administration in the past, but clearly, the Group could not have been said to have performed their role effectively.

Manager Pat Fenlon tendered his resignation from Shelbourne on 5 December 2006. This was in spite of Shelbourne winning the title on goal difference from Derry City. Fenlon's departure precipitated a widescale exodus from Tolka Park, as players, unhappy with the wage situation, departed to rival clubs - many having their contracts rescinded by law. Approaching the start of the 2007 season, the team was left with just two senior players by January, and the club's financial crisis resulted in the club pulling out of the Setanta Cup. The crisis even bagan to threaten their participation in the Champions' League for 2007. Shelbourne's woes were deepened on 25 January 2007 when owner and general manager, Ollie Byrne, was taken to hospital with a reported brain tumour, most likely, stress-induced.

Shelbourne, with no manager and just one remaining senior player by February were said to be massively in debt - some reports putting it at €6 million, and others between even €10 million and €12 million. The fiasco only served to increase the pressures on the FAI, who already had to find two new replacement clubs to participate in the league following the extinction of Dublin City F.C. and Limerick F.C. in 2006. The association decided to set up a review of the awarding of a Premier Division licence to the club and eventually decided that the club should be stripped of the chance to compete in the Premier Division. Shelbourne had their Premier licence revoked and were, instead, considered lucky to be placed in the First Division for the 2007 season. There had been worries that the club would face outright extinction and that the FAI would throw the club out of the league altogether, especially after Limerick, who had less severe problems than Shelbourne, were denied a First Division licence. Liam Moggan, the chairman of the FAI's Licensing Committee resigned in protest after the decision was made to grant Shelbourne a First Division licence as he believed that the club - manager-less, player-less and heavily in the red - did not meet the criteria for the awarding of such a licence, even though its criteria were less strict than those required to pass for a Premier licence. It is probable that the Committee as a whole took an extremely sympathetic view while taking into account the long history of the club and, facing a minimal time-frame for exploring alternatives before the kick-off in March, logistical factors, such as ensuring that the league began with the preferred number of teams, when coming to a final decision to keep Shelbourne in the league.

However, the FAI did not specifically announce whether their decision was punishment for continuing off-the-field abuses from 2006, such as failing to pay players their wages, or whether it was a repercussion of Shelbourne failing to meet the requisite criteria for partaking in the 2007 Premier Division (although it is likely that the course of action taken was due to the latter as if it were a punishment for the 2006 season a deduction in points from that season's tally would be the usual penalty, which would have led to the club being stripped of their title in this scenario). If the relegation was indeed due to a failure to meet standards for 2007, the club's off-the-field abuses during 2006 remain to be seen as having been permissible for that season.

Meanwhile, Waterford United were invited to take Shelbourne's place in the Premier Division for 2007 as they were the next best-placed First Division club in the Independent Assessment Group's rankings. Waterford United accepted the invite, while the task of sourcing funds, a manager and squad before the transfer-deadline of 28 February remained at the fore-front of the club's worries by mid-February. On 23 February, Shelbourne announced that Dermot Keely had been appointed as their new manager.[9] The signing of a new squad of players commenced immediately afterward - quite a few of these players being youngsters and loaned players from other clubs, although the club did also manage to entice a number of ripened seniors to Tolka Park for the 2007 First Division season.

On 29 March 2007, Shelbourne finally relinquished all hopes of participating in the qualifying rounds of the UEFA Champions League for the 2007-08 European season after the club made an official announcement in relation to the matter.[10] Before the statement, it had been far from certain that the club would have been granted the European licence required to compete anyway. Nevertheless, in deciding against competing, they cited reasons including the possibility that taking part with such a stunted team may actually damage the club's record and reputation, as well as contribute to a devaluation of the league's UEFA coefficient, which the club's past results had helped raise and consolidate over the previous number of seasons.[11] The move opened the way for Derry City to take the clubs place in the Champions League qualifying rounds, allowing St. Patrick's Athletic to enter the UEFA Cup qualifying rounds in place of the promoted Derry City.[12]

Player exodus to Britain

The close-period between the 2006 and 2007 seasons saw one of the biggest departures of senior talent from the league and across the Irish Sea in recent times.[13] The heightening of the league's stature, substantially improved by the fortunes of clubs such as Derry City and Shelbourne on the European scene, as well as the success of the likes of Kevin Doyle, formerly of Cork City and one of the top-scorers in the FA Premier League's 2006-07 season with Reading, attracted attention from numerous managers in the Scottish Premier League and the English Football League. Some of the top players to depart included: the 2006 'Goalkeeper of the Year', David Forde, and the league's top-scorer from 2003–06, Jason Byrne, both of whom moved to Cardiff City from Derry City and Shelbourne, respectively; the 2005 'Player of the Year', George O'Callaghan who departed Cork City for Ipswich Town; Danny Murphy, who also left Cork and went to Motherwell; UCD players, Patrick Kavanagh and Gary Dicker (loan), who moved to Birmingham City; Colin Hawkins, who transferred to Coventry City from Shelbourne; and Trevor Molloy, the 2004 'Player of the Year', and Paul Keegan, who both moved from St. Patrick's Athletic to Motherwell. On the managerial front, Stephen Kenny also raised eyebrows with his exploits at Derry and the board at Dunfermline Athletic gave him the job as manager.

FAI restrictions on free expression

After having fined Cork City manager, Damien Richardson, during the 2006 season for critical comments he had made against a referee after a game, as well as handing him a four-match touchline ban,[14] and comments from the then Bohemians manager, Gareth Farrelly, expressing that he felt gagged,[15] the FAI continued to restrict critical opinions of their structures from individuals connected with clubs in the league. On 15 February 2007, Derry City were requested by the FAI to remove a blog entry posted on their official website - CityWeb - by fan, 'MariborKev'. The entry, entitled "Another fine mess", which criticised the administration of the FAI in dealing with the financial irregularities at Shelbourne, even went on to predict that the organisation would get in contact with the club over the post to demand its removal. The article was said to have breached terms of the Participation Agreement, which the club had signed in order to take part in the 2007 competition. As a result, the club's webmaster was forced to move the blogging system to a separate domain, unconnected to the official club site.[16] A number of weeks later, on 6 March, it was revealed that the club had been fined €5,000 by the FAI. The body also made it known to the club that for every further day the offending article remained on the site, it would punish Derry by another €1,000. This was despite the fact the blogging area had been moved to another site weeks earlier. Derry City eventually had their punishment overturned after a successful appeal by the club's legal team.

Clubs information

Team Base Manager Main sponsor Kit supplier Stadium Capacity
Athlone Town Athlone, Co. Westmeath O'Connor, Michael Ganly's Hardware O'Neills Athlone Town Stadium 6,000
Bohemians Dublin Connor, Seán Des Kelly Interiors Diadora Dalymount Park 8,500
Bray Wanderers Bray, Co. Wicklow Gormley, Eddie Hard Metal Umbro Carlisle Grounds 7,000
Cobh Ramblers Cobh, Co. Cork Henderson, Stephen Goodyear Uhlsport St. Colman's Park 5,000
Cork City Cork Richardson, Damien Beamish O'Neill's Turners Cross 8,000
Derry City Derry Robertson, John Umbro The Brandywell 7,700
Drogheda United Drogheda, Co. Louth Doolin, Paul Murphy Environmental Jako United Park 5,400
Dundalk Dundalk, Co. Louth Gill, John IJM Timber Frame Company Umbro Oriel Park 6,000
Finn Harps Ballybofey, Co. Donegal Hegarty, Paul Crawford Furnishings PF Sports Finn Park 7,900
Galway United Galway Cousins, Tony Harrmack Developments Ltd. Umbro Terryland Park 4,500
Kildare County Newbridge, Co. Kildare Ryan, John Swifts Umbro Station Road 2,500
Kilkenny City Kilkenny Rea, Brendan The Kilkenny Voice Umbro Buckley Park 6,500
Limerick 37 Limerick McGee, Paul Limerick's Live 95FM Errea Jackman Park 2,500
Longford Town Longford Mathews, Alan Flancare Umbro Flancare Park 4,500
Monaghan United Monaghan Cooke, Mick The Squeeling Pig Diadora Century Homes Park 3,000
Shamrock Rovers Dublin Scully, Pat Woodie's DIY Umbro Tolka Park 12,000
Shelbourne Dublin Keely, Dermot JW Hire Umbro Tolka Park 12,000
Sligo Rovers Sligo Cook, Paul Toher's Jako The Showgrounds 5,500
St. Patrick's Athletic Dublin McDonnell, John Paddy Power Umbro Richmond Park 5,500
UCD Dublin Mahon, Pete Budweiser O'Neills Belfield Park 2,500
Waterford United Waterford Cronin, Gareth Perennial Freight Diadora Waterford Regional Sports Centre 8,000
Wexford Youths Crossabeg, Co. Wexford Wallace, Mick Wallace Construction O'Neills Wexford Youths Football Complex 5,000




There are twelve participating clubs in the Premiership and ten participating clubs in the First Division for 2007. During the course of the 2007 season (which will last from March to November) each Premiership club will play the respective others three times. A pre-season draw decided which clubs will have the benefit of two home games in these matches. First Division sides will play each other four times throughout the season - two games at home and two games at the stadium of the opposition. Each team in the Premiership will play 33 matches in total during a season, while those in the First Division will play 36 games. Teams will receive three points for a win and one point for a draw. No points will be awarded for a loss. Teams will be ranked by total points, then goal difference and then goals scored. If there is equality in points, goal difference and goals for tallies, the clubs involved must partake in a play-off to decide their finishing positions. At the end of the season, the club with the most points in their division will be crowned as champion of that division. The lowest placed team in the Premiership is automatically relegated into the First Division and the top team from the First Division will be automatically promoted to the Premiership. In addition, the 2007 winner of the First Division will have a once-off play-off with the winners of the FAI League Cup for a Setanta Cup place. Furthermore, the second-last placed team in the Premiership will play either the second-best or third-best placed team in the First Division in a two-legged promotion/relegation play-off after the second-placed and third-placed teams play each other in a single play-off match. The second-placed team in this pairing will have home advantage with the winner of the game having the chance to play the 11th-place finisher in the Premiership both at home and away (with the First Division side being given the choice of home advantage in the first or second leg of the series). The aggregate winner of this two-legged tie will play the following 2008 season in the Premiership with the loser resigned to playing in the First Division. The team that finishes last in the First Division must re-apply to the FAI for membership to the following season's league.

Qualification for 2008 European competitions

The top team in the Premiership will qualify for the UEFA Champions League first qualifying round and must win three two-legged knockout ties against higher seeded and stronger opposition with progression in order to enter the group phase. The second-placed team qualifies for the UEFA Cup first qualifying round. They, similarly, must go through three two-legged knockout ties in order to enter the Second Round group phase of that competition. The third-placed team enter the Intertoto Cup. There is another UEFA Cup first qualifying round slot reserved for the winners of the domestic FAI Cup. If it were to happen that a cup-winner has already qualified for the UEFA Cup via the league, the cup-win qualification will take prominence and the league-place qualification will be transferred to the next team who finished below them in the league. This, in turn, will also cause a downward transfer of the Intertoto Cup qualification place to the next team in line. However, if the case is that the cup-winner has already won the league, that team will take a place in the UEFA Champions League qualifying rounds, by way of its league-win, and the losing team in the FAI Cup final will take the UEFA Cup spot on offer from that competition.

Prize funds

Between the National League, FAI Cup, League of Ireland Cup and the Setanta Cup a prize fund in excess of €1 million will be available. The FAI will be investing a total of €803,000 for prize funds in 2007. The prize fund for the Premiership in 2007 will reach €450,000 with the winner being awarded €225,000. The First Division winner's prize fund in 2007 will be €50,000, with €100,000 available in total. The following table gives a more detailed breakdown of the prize funds.[17]

Position Premier Division First Division League Cup Fair Play
1 €225,000 €50,000 €10,000 €4,500 x 2
2 €100,000 €30,000 €5,000 €2,000 x 2
3 €50,000 €10,000 €2,500
4 €25,000 €6,000 €2,500
5 €15,000 €4,000
6 €12,000
7 €9,500
8 €7,500
9 €6,000
Totals €450,000 €100,000 €20,000 €13,000


The league season kicked off on 9 March. Derry City were pitted as the favourites to win the Premier Division by numerous bookmakers, closely followed by Drogheda United and Cork City. Despite this, Derry City made a poor start to the season losing to strong title-contenders St. Patrick's Athletic and Drogheda United in their early-season confrontations. They also fell to Cork City at home in the fifth series of games to a score-line of 1-4. The last time Derry City conceded four goals at home in the League of Ireland had been when Cork City ran out 4-1 winners at the Brandywell in April 2000.[18] Meanwhile, St. Patrick's Athletic raced into an early-season lead at the top of the table, having won all of their first five fixtures.

Longford Town trailed at the bottom of the Premier Division after a poor start to the season and any chances of survival were damaged after they were punished with a 6-point deduction for failing to meet licencing requirements.[19]

With a third of the season remaining Drogheda United had risen to the top of the Premier Division table and have since sealed the first league title in their history. On 18 October they beat Cork City 2-1 at United Park which guaranteed the title for them. It had looked like they might have possibly had to wait another week to wrap up the league but a strike from Guy Bates in the last minute gave Drogheda victory on the night which was enough to see them become league champions. The relegation battle was very tight. Longford Town were bottom for the majority of the season, having been deducted six points but going into the final day of the season were just three points behind Waterford United and had a far superior goal difference. Longford did what they had to do by beating Derry City 3-1 but Waterford got a point which meant that Longford were relegated. Waterford were still not safe, though, as they had to play in the relegation/promotion playoff where they beaten by Finn Harps which meant that they were still relegated.

The First Division was won by Cobh Ramblers which gave them automatic promotion to the Premier Division. Finn Harps also got promotion after they defeated both Dundalk and Waterford United in the playoffs.

Premier Division


The home team is listed in the left-hand column.

  Bohs Bray Cork Derry Drogs Galway L'ford Rovers Sligo St Pat's UCD W'ford
Bohemians - 2-0 2-1 0-0 0-0,
2-0 0-0,
Bray Wanderers 1-0,
- 1-1,
1-1 1-2 0-1,
1-3 0-2,
0-0 2-1 2-1
Cork City 2-1,
2-2 - 1-1 0-0 0-0,
1-2 1-0,
4-1 2-0
Derry City 0-0,
- 0-1 0-0 3-1 1-0,
4-1 0-1,
Drogheda United 1-0 4-1,
- 2-2 1-1 0-2 3-0,
2-0 3-2,
Galway United 0-1 0-1 1-2 1-1,
- 1-1,
1-1 0-2,
Longford Town 3-0 1-1,
1-2 0-0,
0-3 - 0-3 0-1,
1-0 1-0,
Shamrock Rovers 0-0 1-0 2-0 1-1 1-2,
- 1-0,
0-0 2-0 2-0,
Sligo Rovers 2-1 3-0 4-1,
0-2 1-1 2-1 2-0 - 0-4,
St Patrick's Athletic 0-0,
1-1 2-1 1-0,
1-2 4-2 2-1,
3-1 - 1-1 3-0,
UCD 1-0 2-0,
1-1 0-1 2-2 2-2,
0-2 2-2,
- 3-0,
Waterford United 0-1,
2-1 0-2 1-2 2-1 1-3 -

^ Note B: Match was originally played on 18 May. However it was abandoned due to a loose floodlight pylon, which was deemed unsafe.[20]


P = Matches played; W = Matches won; D = Matches drawn; L = Matches lost; F = Goals for; A = Goals against; GD= Goal difference; Pts = Points
C = Champions; P = Playoffs R = Relegated;
^ Note C: Longford Town deducted 6 points for failing to meet licensing requirements.[19]

  • FAI Cup winners gain second available UEFA Cup place. This may be transferred to next best-placed team in league if Cup winners also finish in UEFA Cup qualification spot in league, while it may be given to Cup runners-up if Cup winners gain UEFA Champions League place via league.
Winner of League of Ireland Premier Division 2007

Drogheda United
1st Title

Top goal-scorers

Goalscorers Goals Team
David Mooney
Longford Town
Mark Quigley
St Patrick's Athletic
Roy O'Donovan
Cork City
Tadhg Purcell
Shamrock Rovers
Fahrudin Kudozovic
Sligo Rovers
Éamon Zayed
Drogheda United
Andrew Myler
Shamrock Rovers
Matthew Judge
Sligo Rovers
Denis Behan
Cork City
Glen Crowe
Derek Glynn
Galway United
Shane Robinson
Drogheda United

^ Note D: Roy O'Donovan no longer plays in the Premier Division.[21]


eircom/Soccer Writers' Association of Ireland 'Player of the Month' award:
Month Name Position Club
March Alan Kirby Midfielder St Patrick's Athletic
April Brian Shelley Defender Drogheda United
May Tadhg Purcell Striker Shamrock Rovers
June Derek Glynn Striker Galway United
July Matthew Judge Striker Sligo Rovers
August Dave Mooney Striker Longford Town
September Guy Bates Striker Drogheda United
October Brian Shelley Defender Drogheda United
November Conor Gethins Striker Finn Harps

First Division


P = Matches played; W = Matches won; D = Matches drawn; L = Matches lost; F = Goals for; A = Goals against; GD = Goal difference; Pts = Points

Winner of League of Ireland First Division 2007

Cobh Ramblers
1st Title

Top goal-scorers

Goalscorers Goals Team
Conor Gethins
Finn Harps
Davin O'Neill
Cobh Ramblers
Anthony Flood
Philip Gorman
Kildare County
Mark Leech
Graham Cummins
Cobh Ramblers
Robbie Farrell
Monaghan United
Stephen Parkhouse
Finn Harps

^ Note E: Includes 2 with Dundalk

League of Ireland Clubs in Europe 2007

Team 2006 League Position Competition Reason
Derry City 2 UEFA Champions League (1st qual.) League runners-up
St. Patrick's Athletic 7 UEFA Cup (1st qual.) FAI Cup runners-up
Drogheda United 3 UEFA Cup (1st qual.) Third in League
Cork City 4 UEFA Intertoto Cup Fourth in League

UEFA Champions League

Shelbourne F.C. looked set to qualify for the preliminary rounds of the UEFA Champions League by way of winning the 2006 league. However by the beginning of the season their entry was cast into doubt due to financial problems at the club and worries that the club would fail to be granted a UEFA licence. Should they have failed to be awarded a licence, Derry City F.C. would have taken their place as a seeded team in the first qualifying round draw. With the future looking grim, Shelbourne's board came to a decision itself on the issue and announced that it would opt out of competing in the competition in the interests of the league and the co-efficient it had built up over the prior years. This made way for Derry City to compete as runners-up in the league. They were defeated, however, by Armenian Champions FC Pyunik in the First Qualifying Round. The first leg at the Brandywell finished goalless while Derry City succumbed to 2-0 loss in the second leg in Armenia to go out 2-0 on aggregate.


Derry City F.C. initially qualified for the UEFA Cup after winning the FAI Cup in 2006. However, after they took Shelbourne's place in the Champions League, St. Patrick's Athletic, as 2006 FAI Cup runners-up to Derry, took their place in the competition for 2007. Drogheda United F.C., who had originally qualified for the UEFA Intertoto Cup, also qualified for the UEFA Cup despite having finished in third position in the final league table. At first they had taken the slot reserved for the second-placed finishers, who were Derry City, as Derry had already qualified via the FAI Cup and transferred their slot. However, with Shelbourne opting out of European competition for 2007, Drogheda United where, in essence, the second-best finished team of the European qualifiers anyway. St Patrick's Athletic were eliminated in the First Qualifying Round. They drew the first leg at home 0-0 but were resoundingly beaten 5-0 away from home in the second leg against Odense BK. Drogheda United came through their First Qualifying Round tie by beating A.C. Libertas 4-1 on aggregate. They did not progress any further, though, as they were defeated by Swedish side Helsingborgs in the next round. The first leg finished 1-1 at Dalymount Park with Henrik Larsson netting for the Swedes and Eamon Zayed scoring a second half equaliser for Drogheda. The second leg was goalless at half-time but three goals in the second half for Helsingborgs put them through at the expense of Drogheda by an aggregate score of 4-1.

UEFA Intertoto Cup

Cork City F.C. qualified for the UEFA Intertoto Cup by way of finishing in fourth place in the final 2006 league table and having the entry transferred onto them from Drogheda, who initially had a UEFA Cup place transferred onto them. Shelbourne's withdrawal had no substantial effect on Cork City's qualification, other than promoting them to being the third-best finished team of the European qualifiers. Cork City won 2-1 on aggregate against Icelandic team Valur in the First Round. In the Second Round, though, Hammarby IF knocked out the Rebel Army by the aggregate scoreline of 2-1 after a 1-1 draw at Turner's Cross and a 1-0 victory for the Swedish side at Råsunda.

2007 UEFA coefficient

The League's UEFA coefficient accumulates to a total value of 6.498 as of the 2006/07 European season. The coefficient achieved in 2007 is 1.000[22] which means their overall coefficient rose to 7.332.[23]

2007 national league UEFA ranking

Ranking going into 2007-08 European season:

Further information

With the financial collapse of Shelbourne after having won the 2006 title and the prospect of the club representing the eircom League in the UEFA Champions League for the 2007-08 European season, there were worries that their participation and representation might have proven detrimental to the league's co-efficient, which had been steadily improving since the mid-2000s - so much so, that Shelbourne and Derry City were to be entered into the preliminary qualifying round draws for that season's competitions as seeded teams.

With the commencement of the 2007 season approaching, however, it began to look increasingly unlikely that Shelbourne would in fact be permitted by the FAI to represent the league in Europe after the association revoked the club's Premier Division licence and resigned it to competing in the 2007 FAI First Division. It was also uncertain as to whether Shelbourne would be awarded with a required UEFA licence. By March, the Shelbourne board came to a decision to withdraw from the competition.

On 17 April 2007, five eircom League clubs were awarded UEFA licences by the FAI's First Instance Committee. The clubs to be awarded with licences were Derry City, St. Patrick's Athletic, Drogheda United, Cork City and UCD. UCD received a licence as they were still in with a chance of competing in the UEFA Cup by way of Ireland being awarded a place via the UEFA Fair Play ranking.[24] However Ireland did not score the required the points total for UCD to be entered in the draw.[25]

League of Ireland Cup

The first two rounds of the competition were drawn on a regional basis with the Third Round being the first 'open' draw. Whilst all of the league's European entrants for 2007-08 received a bye into the Second Round, the First Round saw the Premier Division's Longford Town go out 5-4 on penalties to Athlone Town of the First Division after the tight game went to extra-time and finished 1-1. Meanwhile, First Division leaders, Dundalk were knocked out by Shamrock Rovers in a game which finished 1-0. Bohemians knocked out their fellow Premier Division counterparts, Bray Wanderers by a 3-1 score-line to set up an all-Dublin Second Round tie with Shelbourne, who received a bye as they were still officially classed as European entrants at the time of the draw. Bohemians won this clash 2-0, with former Shelbourne player Glen Crowe netting both of the goals.

The Quarter-Finals were played on the 2nd and 3 July. The results were as follows

U.C.D. 2-1 Finn Harps
Bohemians 3-2 Cork City
Cobh Ramblers 1-2 Derry City
Shamrock Rovers 1-0 Athlone Town

The first Semi-Final took place on 7 August 2007 with the result being:

Bohemians 1-0 Shamrock Rovers Report

The second semi-final took place on 28 August 2007 the result was:

Derry City 3-0 U.C.D. Report


9 October 2007
Derry City 1 – 0 (a.e.t) Bohemians
 97' (report)
The Brandywell, Derry City
Attendance: 7,700
Referee: D Hanney (Dublin).

The 2007 winner of the League of Ireland Cup will contest a play-off with the winner of the 2007 First Division for a 2008 Setanta Cup place.

Off-field issues

Media coverage

Broadcasting partners of the FAI - Setanta Sports, TG4 and RTÉ - agreed to televise over 50 live games in the 2007 season. The agreed games included FAI National League games, as well as Setanta Cup matches and FAI Cup matches. TV3 also agreed to continue showing their highlights programme, eircom League Weekly, on a Monday night each week. Fans hoped that the newly revamped league along with extra funds being spent on publicity by the FAI would warrant a new era of attention being given to the competition. Nevertheless the unpopular late Monday night slot of 11:30 pm reserved for eircom League Weekly was unchanged and TV3 planned to continue airing the programme at this time.

FIFA's two-club ruling

A significant number of players, who had already played with two clubs within the year prior to the season's kick-off, were left ineligible to play for their clubs until July at the beginning of the season as FIFA's rules, or, in particular, Article 5.3 of FIFA’s Regulations for the Status and Transfer of Players, stated that no player could play for more than two different clubs between 1 July of one season and 30 June of the following year. The highest-profile members of the group of ten were the Irish internationally capped midfielders Gareth Farrelly and Colin Healy. Both players had agreed two-year deals with Cork City but their clearance failed to come through from FIFA due to the fact that they had each been registered to two other clubs since 1 July 2006. Among the other Premier Division players hit with the ruling were: Bray Wanderers midfielder Alan Cawley; Derry City striker Peter Hynes; and Ray Scully of Waterford United.[26]

The Football Association of Ireland argued to FIFA that, as they ran a league with an unconventional Summer season out of tandem with the calendar of most other European national leagues, around which the rule was based, such circumstances ought to be permissible for players playing in the League. However, with two weeks of the league season completed, the association had yet to come to an agreement with FIFA. As a result, in failing to ensure that the clubs under its jurisdiction would be able to field their full squads at the outset of the season, the FAI came in for criticism. Numerous fans of the league condemned what they viewed to be carelessly negligent short-sightedness on the part of the association.

By 23 March 2007, three of the group were cleared to play by FIFA. The players who were cleared to play were Gary Rogers of Galway United, Alan Cawley of Bray Wanderers and Shaun Holmes of Finn Harps, while decisions on the remainder were not expected for another week.[27] On 2 April, it was announced that Colin Healy and Gareth Farrelly both failed to gain clearance to play for Cork City.[28] While the FAI had taken the cases forward to FIFA on behalf of most of the players, it was Cork City who decided to have their own legal team represent their two players.

It was announced on 5 April that Peter Hynes had received clearance by FIFA. This concluded the wait for decisions on all ten players as the remainder (bar the two Cork City players) were also given exemptions. The other players cleared were: John Brophy and Mark Leech of Shelbourne; Willie Doyle of Monaghan United; and Ray Scully.[29] In the meantime, Cork City suggested that they would be appealing FIFA's decision not to grant their two players clearance on 18 April 2007 by 20 April deadline. The club made a 'strongly worded submission' to FIFA in relation to the issue asking FIFA to reconsider and were in consultation with people within the game, in legal circles and even those involved in politics.[30] FIFA rejected Cork City's appeal on 23 April but the club stated that they may take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport as a last resort.[31] When they did eventually take the case to this stage, it was once again decided against their favour, meaning that the two players had to wait to July until they could represent Cork City.[32]


The league reported a significant increase in attendance figures for the opening weekend of the season with the average gate up 17 per cent from the same weekend in 2006. A total of 20,632 people paid into 11 fixtures on the opening weekend of the season. This equated to an average attendance of almost 1,900 which, compared with the 1,600 mean figure from a year previously, represented an increase of 17 per cent. The figures constituted an early success for the newly appointed National Club Promotions Officer, Noel Mooney, who was appointed to co-ordinate the new Club Promotions Officers at 16 eircom League clubs.

With the attendance figures eclipsing the projected targets, Mooney commented:

The improved attendance rate was maintained as the season progressed as a total of 97,656 patrons attended fixtures over the first six weeks season. The figure for the same period for the 2006 season was just 65,828, with the average attendance of 1,480 per game throughout the 2007 Premier Division and 2007 First Division equating to a massive rise of 37 per cent in attendances.[34]


On 8 June 2007, it was announced that the FAI had teamed up with Electronic Arts and that the League of Ireland would feature in the FIFA 08 computer game; the first time for the league to feature in the FIFA Series.[35] Top players from the league, including Derry City's Pat McCourt and Joseph Ndo of St. Patrick's Athletic, were present at the official announcement and photocall of the deal which took place in Temple Bar, Dublin on 11 June 2007. It was confirmed that all 12 teams in the Premier Division of the FAI League of Ireland will be featured in the game. At the event, Fran Gavin, Director of the FAI League of Ireland said:

See also

External links

  • Website of the eircom League
  • The Football Association of Ireland
  • Irish Football Online
  • Irish Football Grounds
  • supporter forum
  • eircom League preliminary fixture list (Correct prior to potential alterations due to match-clashes with games in other competitions featuring eircom League teams)
  • FAI Rule Book
  • Irish Tifo Forum


^ Note A: "Proposals on the strategic direction of the National League 2007-2012" (pdf). FAI / eircom League Implementation Committee. 2006. Archived from the original on 18 March 2009. Retrieved 7 March 2009. 
^ Note F: Liechenstein has no properly recognised league championship. Therefore, the country has no UEFA Champions League entrants, although the cup winners enter the UEFA Cup.


  1. ^ "Debts cost Shelbourne dear", Aidan Fitzmaurice,, 20 February 2007.
  2. ^ "eircom League clubs back FAI merger". RTÉ.ie. 29 June 2006. Retrieved 20 October 2007. 
  3. ^ "FAI name the 12 clubs who will participate in the Premier Division". 11 December 2006. Archived from the original on 26 September 2007. Retrieved 20 October 2007. 
  4. ^ "FAI welcomes Dundalk's satisfaction with IAG process". 23 December 2006. Archived from the original on 26 September 2007. Retrieved 20 October 2007. 
  5. ^ "Limerick FC fail in license bid". RTÉ.ie. 15 December 2006. Retrieved 20 October 2007. 
  6. ^ "Wexford favourites for 22nd spot". 6 December 2006. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 20 October 2007. 
  7. ^ "Injunction puts eircom League start in doubt". RTÉ.ie. 17 January 2007. Retrieved 20 October 2007. 
  8. ^ "Limerick 37 awarded First Division Licence",, 9 February 2007.
  9. ^ "Shelbourne Statement - Dermot Keely announced as new manager", Gareth Penrose,, 23 February 2007.
  10. ^ "Shels pull out of Europe", Irish Football Online, 30 March 2007.
  11. ^ "Statement from the Board of Management of Shelbourne FC", Gareth Penrose, Shelbourne FC, 29 March 2007.
  12. ^ "Derry to play in Champions League", BBC Sport Online, 30 March 2007.
  13. ^ "Bargain-hunters ransack Ireland", Aidan Fitzmaurice,, 25 January 2007.
  14. ^ "Richardson hit with fine & ban", RTÉ.ie, 5 July 2006.
  15. ^ "Farrelly feels gagged", Bohs News, 18 September 2006.
  16. ^ "Another fine mess", DerryCityWeb Blogs, 3 February 2007.
  17. ^ "Prize Money Details Released ",, 29 July 2007. Retrieved 29 July 2007.
  18. ^ "Four goal Cork heap pressure on Derry boss Fenlon", Irish Football Online, 9 April 2007.
  19. ^ a b "Longford Town deducted 6 points". RTÉ Sport, 16 May 2007. Retrieved 20 October 2007. 
  20. ^ "Shamrock Rovers 1-1 Waterford United (abandoned)". RTÉ Sport, 18 May 2007. Archived from the original on 22 May 2007. Retrieved 20 October 2007. 
  21. ^ "O'Donovan seals Sunderland switch". BBC Sport, 9 August 2007. 9 August 2007. Retrieved 22 April 2010. 
  22. ^ "2008 coefficient",, 31 August 2007. Retrieved 31 August 2007.
  23. ^ "2008 Country Ranking",, 31 August 2007. Retrieved 31 August 2007.
  24. ^ "UEFA licences for five Irish clubs", RTÉ.ie, 17 April 2007.
  25. ^ "Sweden earn UEFA Cup place via Fair Play ranking",, 9 May 2007.
  26. ^ "Clubs hit with two-club ruling",, 9 March 2007.
  27. ^ "Three of ten players cleared to play", Irish Football Online, 23 March 2007.
  28. ^ "Farrelly and Healy fail to gain clearance", The Irish Times 3 April 2007.
  29. ^ "FIFA grant clearance to Hynes", FAI eircom League, 5 April 2007.
  30. ^ "Cork City ask FIFA to reconsider", Irish Football Online, 18 April 2007.
  31. ^ "Cork City's FIFA appeal rejected", Irish Football Online, 23 April 2007.
  32. ^ "Farrelly and Healy fail in court appeal", RTÉ Sport, 12 June 2007. Retrieved 15 June 2007.
  33. ^ "League reports major increase in crowds",, 13 March 2007.
  34. ^ "League sees 37% attendance rise", Irish Football Online, 19 April 2007.
  35. ^ "Eircom League of Ireland to feature in FIFA 08 ",, 8 June 2007. Retrieved 8 June 2007.
  36. ^ "Star players launch league's involvement with FIFA 08,, 11 June 2007. Retrieved on 12 June 2007.
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