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Lisburn Distillery decline a worry

From big prizes to extinction fears, other sides must heed wake-up call

By Scott Young

Published 05/04/2016

Glory days: Lisburn Distillery skipper Pat McShane with the League Cup in 2011
Glory days: Lisburn Distillery skipper Pat McShane with the League Cup in 2011

What is happening to Lisburn Distillery is heartbreaking and a wake-up call for all Irish League clubs.

For so many reasons, historically and romantically, it's hard to watch as the Whites drop into the NIFL Premier Intermediate League next season.

The fact that the club's fate was sealed five years on from their extraordinary League Cup final win over Portadown was a very painful irony.

There are genuine fears that Distillery could go out of existence and that would not shock me even though it would be a devastating development.

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I think it's a sad reflection of where the Irish League is and the reality that when you aren't getting big crowds, financial problems will mount.

And the brutal reality for even the Premiership sides is that there isn't a lot of money around and unless you qualify for Europe then you won't have the budget to keep pace with the top teams.

Distillery have suffered serious financial problems over the years and fought a winding up order. The temptation to chase the dream is there but must be avoided.

Clubs need the right investment and leadership to thrive and we have witnessed sides like Glenavon and Crusaders progress for that reason.

It can be easy to fall but harder to rise again and the Whites could struggle to survive if there isn't enough will to keep them going. It's a dire and bleak situation that should depress all of us.

You are talking about one of the founding members of the Irish League, founded in 1880, and it's shocking to see their demise. They were even deducted three points for fielding an illegible player this season! Two wins from 21 league matches is disastrous.

Lisburn Distillery had many good teams and players, including Martin O'Neill and Glenn Ferguson, and liked to give the big sides a fright. The fans were very close to the pitch at Ballyskeagh and it was a nice playing surface.

The Whites are a club with fantastic history from European matches to Irish Cup wins and league titles.

But we have been down this treacherous road with many clubs before.

Ards are one club that have wavered close to the line of going under but they have always had a hardcore loyal fan base that has supported the club and perhaps Distillery have not had enough backing from fans.

Clubs have learned the hard way that you cannot live beyond your means.

A proud and successful history is no guarantee of a prosperous future.

Lisburn Distillery's future is uncertain but I sincerely hope they can rise from the ashes.

Belfast Telegraph

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