STEPHEN BRADLEY HAS explained his anger and exasperation at what he has described as a lack of respect and interest from RTÉ towards helping the League of Ireland develop a wider audience.
The Shamrock Rovers head coach revealed how he and other club managers around the country held Zoom meetings with officials from the national broadcaster before the start of this season, who cited the lack of viewing figures as the reason for not showing more live Premier Division fixtures.
Despite the FAI trumpeting a new broadcast deal with RTÉ back in February one which is linked to the rights for senior Republic of Ireland games the last domestic fixture to be shown was on May 7.
Three months later and, as of yet, no further games have been scheduled for RTÉ TV, with Bohemians exploits in the Europa Conference League qualifiers earlier this week putting the spotlight on the national broadcasters blackout of coverage during a summer dominated by Euro 2020 and the Olympics.
None of the Euro games to date, involving Sligo Rovers, Dundalk, Bohemains or Rovers, have been on television, and it has also emerged that Bohs suggested foregoing their own domestic stream revenue from their three qualifying games at Aviva Stadium, offering RTÉ the rights for free in order to gain maximum exposure.
It doesnt surprise me. We had meetings with RTÉ at the start of the year and you are wasting your time, Bradley fumed, ahead of his sides Europa Conference League third round tie against Albanian side Tueta tonight.
I think we have to look outside and start forgetting about the TV companies here who refuse to show the games. The streaming has been really good. I know people say numbers, but I think thats nonsense as you have to give it time and build the product over years and lets see where we can take it.
Maybe we can get interest from outside this country because what we have right now doesnt respect the quality and the work that goes in. And that is plain for all to see. It has been like that for years.
It will continue to be that way as long as they are the ones were running to. Well continue to get what were getting . I think we need to completely break away from it and go our own way. It might hurt us for a couple of years, but thats fine. Lets build the streaming.
The Covid-19 pandemic led to RTÉ establishing the WatchLOI streaming service in partnership with clubs in order to ease some of the financial pain from supporters being unable to attend stadiums.
Like I said, I dont buy into the numbers on the stream. I understand they are low, but we have to build it over a period of time. Lets build the product and make the package really appealing.
All league managers had Zooms with RTE and stuff like that. Again, the line that is thrown at you is viewing figures, thats the line that everyone likes to throw at you.
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Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO
Like I said its quite easy to understand the viewing figures when youre not promoting it, theres no package there, its literally five minutes before the game, five minutes after the game. Zero promotion. Its very easy to throw that line out and thats what weve been fed for years and, for me, its not right.
We cant keep going with cap in hand to these people and beg them to show talented footballers playing at a really high level and producing. We cant keep doing that. This league has proven over the years, the players coming out of it. I believe now its at one of the strongest periods its been in in terms of the quality of young players throughout the league.
Bradleys counterpart at Bohs, Keith Long, admitted his own frustration at RTÉ turning a blind eye to the domestic scene, pointing out after his sides historic 2-1 win over PAOK that the national broadcaster doesnt get behind the game like they do GAA or rugby.
I understand Olympics takes everything now and rightly so. Its not just this year, lets not kid ourselves, Bradley continued.
Its the last however long Ive been around the league. Its a token gesture when the game is shown and its wrong. Its nonsense, a nonsense for me. I dont agree with it. They say we show 10 games so we accept that, its not good enough. Weve done it for years. You sit down with any teams we play around Europe and talk to them and the money they get from local TV is incredible, incredible, and were here.
And people say well, its the League of Irelandbut you tell me were not on a par with these countries. Its nonsense. The standard of player. No, Im not having it. They pick their games at the start of the year. Thats what weve accepted for years and Im not having it.
We need to build our products. It might take us somewhere in three, four, five years time. The Olympics, I get this year, but this has been going on for years, its not just this year.