The year was 2008 and Sporting Fingal was being launched as the newest kid on the League of Ireland block. It was a bold move to introduce a new club, an even bolder one to do so in Dublin. Yet, there was method behind the madness. Targeting the cat
The year was 2008 and Sporting Fingal was being launched as the newest kid on the League of Ireland block. It was a bold move to introduce a new club, an even bolder one to do so in Dublin.
Yet, there was method behind the madness. Targeting the catchment area of Fingal, which houses almost 300,000 people, seemed logical and club officials embarked on a tour of Kristansand, Norway to undergo some research into how a small entity could grow quickly and thrive.
The home of IK Start is a 15,000-seater stadium and acts as a beacon of modernity within the local community. It is the type of place that families want to visit to support their football club and that, in essence, is what Sporting Fingal wanted to create.
Alas, planning permission and a short-lived existence put paid to those plans. But it does not mean that other clubs cannot share the ambition that once inked the Sporting Fingal blueprint.
There are plans for facility upgrades in Finn Harps, Drogheda, and Bohemians/Shelbourne, which are really exciting and should be embraced by all supporters of the SSE Airtricty League.
In order to attract new supporters to the ‘Greatest League in the World’, we need to think not only about the product on the pitch but the product as a whole.
What that means is the match-day experience.
In years gone by, clubs have solely focussed on developing their team and trying to create short term success whilst forgetting about its most important asset: their supporters.
The match-day experience is a vital cog in running an efficient and effective SSE Airtricity League club.
Here are some simple things that every club can do to make the experience an enjoyable one:
1. Pre match – invite local dance groups to perform on the pitch. If the club is lucky enough to have a bar, invite local singers to create a nice, friendly atmosphere before the game. Injured/ suspended players are under-utilised before a game; they could do meet & greet with supporters, politicians and sponsors. Club mascots are massive in attracting younger fans and every club should be using one.
2. Half-Time – invite a club legend out on to the pitch and have an interview with him about his experiences at the club etc. Also, invite local clubs to play at half-time and use them as ballboys/ ballgirls throughout the game.
3. Post match – ask the first-team players to stay back for 30 minutes to chat with the supporters in the club bar. We should not hide the players away from supporters. Players like to give back and it’s a nice way for supporters to feel appreciated.
Those are just some ideas that every club could implement straight away. Some clubs already do great work but each of the 20 clubs can improve their match-day experience and it’s vital that they do.