The Premier Division trophy. Evan Treacy/INPHO
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FAI say LOI TV season pass axed to protect match attendances

Meanwhile, RTÉ will show 15 league games live on television in the 2022 season.

THE SEASON PASS option on the LOI TV streaming service has been axed to protect match attendances, says League of Ireland Director Mark Scanlon. 

The FAI confirmed that all matches in the Premier Division, First Division and Women’s National League would be broadcast on the LOI TV platform this season, though the option to pay for all games in bulk – and thus at a lower price – has been removed.

Instead, each Premier Division fixture will be available to watch for €7, with First Division games costing €5 and WNL games free upon registration. 

“First and foremost the most important thing was to keep LOITV”, said Mark Scanlon at the league’s media launch.

“This was a commitment that we wanted to make because last season it really helped to increase the exposure of the brand of the League in conjunction with the clubs. It took a lot of hard work because there was a big cost to develop it with the clubs stepping up to the plate to help us with the productions and the commentary. We introduced a lot of new commentators and co-commentators.

“It was something that we really wanted to keep. When we spoke to the clubs at the backend of last season it was a matter of trying to get the right model to get fans back to attend games.

“This was important: we want LOI TV to be there and all games to be accessible to people which we have provided and I think is quite unique.

“If you look at most Leagues, you won’t see a situation where every game will be available live, particularly domestically. So we have been able to provide that. The season pass would obviously discourage people buying season tickets for their clubs and possibly hit attendances.

“We know that not person can get to every single away game or can’t travel to them. But we have a product there that they don’t have to miss a game. First and foremost , we want them in the ground if we can get them there.”

Meanwhile, the FAI have announced that RTÉ will broadcast 15 live Premier Division games in 2022, along with the two FAI Cup semi-finals and the finals. RTÉ will also show the women’s FAI Cup final, while TG4 are expanding their Women’s National League coverage and will show nine live games in 2022. Scanlon says talks are ongoing with other broadcasters with a view to showing more games. 

“We’re continuing to talk to other broadcasters about potential deals for this season. We would be hopeful but it’s been difficult time for broadcasters. We will continue to work on some of the options that are out there and in the meantime we obviously have LOI TV to ensure that all of the games are there.”

There is no guarantee of live TV coverage of Europa League Conference qualifier games involving Irish sides this summer, a subject which caused great consternation last year. Scanlon did point out that all but one of the games was streamed on LOI TV. 

Prize money across the leagues will remain the same as it was last season – €650,000 across all three competitions – and while the League Cup will not be staged this year, Scanlon said a potential return would be kept under review. The league director was also asked about some of the LOI targets in the FAI’s Strategic plan, published earlier this week. 

It was put to Scanlon that the target to have the League of Ireland jump at least 10 places to be ranked among the top 30 Uefa leagues by 2025 is ambitious to the point of unattainable. 

“It’s a very ambitious target that we’d like to set and we’d like to see the clubs continue to progress in Europe, that’s the area that we want to be in, for our clubs to be regularly competing in the group stages in European competition and to be seeded in the early draws in the competition. It’s something we want to work with the clubs on. Some of those areas are out of our control, depending on the draws from year to year. We can’t say exactly if they’ll be achieved over the next couple of years but it’s the area we want to be. We want to be ambitious with our strategy. If it’s not achieved, we’ll be looking to it as soon as we can. We want to break into it to be in the group stages regularly.

“We’ve avoided international windows in our fixture schedule, to help alleviate the pressure on the clubs going into Europe at that time of year. We have to be able to help them with the fixtures. We saw the excitement when those three teams got into the group stages, we want that to be a realistic option on a year to year basis. Not having the League Cup has given clubs in Europe that gap to concentrate on their games. It’s something we want to achieve in the long term and will be achievable.” 

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