Belfast Telegraph

Setanta Cup needs a big fix or it's gone

Blue heaven: Linfield’s Noel Bailie with Setanta Cup in 2005
Blue heaven: Linfield’s Noel Bailie with Setanta Cup in 2005

By Stuart McKinley

I'm not sure when exactly it happened, but there is no doubting that the Setanta Cup has totally lost its lustre.

Ten years ago the carrot of winning £100,000 was dangled in front of clubs north and south of the border and they were all fighting to get a place as all-Ireland football was put back on the calendar after a 25-year break.

Now, a decade later, teams are pulling out faster than you can say southern bias.

Whether it's the hugely reduced prize money - the total pot these days is worth only £70,000 - the difficulty in finding dates that suit both a summer and a winter season or the fact that in latter years there has been trouble at matches, the appetite for cross-border competition just isn't there any more.

I fully understand Linfield's position. Through no fault of their own Linfield fans have had to jump through hoops to attend away matches in the competition.

And I'm also with Glenavon, who didn't want to have to take a team of part-time players to Cork for a Monday night fixture when a Saturday date was available.

It is easy to see why there have been suggestions that it favours League of Ireland clubs. There are plenty up here who do want to play in the Setanta Cup and they must be given their say.

The clubs and associations need to come up with an acceptable plan - and quickly - otherwise the competition will be gone for good.

Belfast Telegraph


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