Tuesday, December 11, 2012

11 December 2006 - The Least Exciting Promotion and Relegation Battles Ever

On 11 December 2006, the League of Ireland announced the teams that would compete in the next Premier League and First Division seasons, with a couple of surprises.

The announcement was the result of a league reorganization orchestrated by FAI chief John Delaney. Intended to strengthen the league, the FAI commissioned an independent assessment group to evaluate teams according to a wide range of criteria that included past performance, infrastructure, financial health, sustainability, and attendance. By weighting those factors, the commission recommended teams to fill the top two divisions of Irish football.

They announced their decision on 11 December. To the shock of many, Dundalk, who thought they had earned promotion to the Premier League the previous season, remained in the First Division, while Galway, who had finished behind them, were placed in the top flight. Dundalk's fans protested the decision, but the league explained that Galway's performance over the past four seasons justified their placement.

The other shock was the complete omission of Limerick. Despite finishing fifth in the 2006 First Division table, they were excluded entirely from the top two divisions because the club had failed to qualify for the requisite UEFA license. (They eventually participated in the First Division as a new club called Limerick 37).

The biggest shake-up, however, was not revealed until later, when defending Premier League champions Shelbourne were demoted to the First Division prior to the start of the season for financial irregularities.

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