Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

You'd be forgiven for missing the NI Football League Cup semis draw

The draw for the semi-finals of the NI Football League Cup took place at the weekend. What do you mean you missed it?

You are to be forgiven. Most people missed it, the decision to hold a draw for the second biggest knock-out competition of our football calendar taking place just moments after an action-packed day in the Danske Bank Premiership.

Add into the mix the media being dominated by the inquest into Northern Ireland's latest defeat, the Republic of Ireland's rebirth under the messiah Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane, plus the small matter of the Wallabies whopping Ireland, then it's no wonder you missed it.

For the record, Ards are at home to Cliftonville and Crusaders play host to Ballymena United. Yes, home and host, you read it right, the mystique of a semi-final being further dissipated by taking away neutral venues.

No doubt the rationale will be to save on ground rent, but for fans part of the attraction of a semi-final was playing at a neutral venue.

Indeed Ballymena boss Glenn Ferguson admitted as much, stating that he'd have loved the semi to be at The Oval because his side always seem to play well there but there is a serious point to this too.

Neither the League Cup, nor the Irish Cup, has a sponsor. Can you blame a business not wanting to put their hands in their pockets when the coverage they get is nothing more than a meanwhile at the bottom of a report?

Why not have the draw in midweek when there isn't as much competition for column inches or airtime and go back to having semi-finals at neutral venues, then maybe, just maybe, they may attract actually some much-needed cash and kudos.

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