European football secured: are Bohemians becoming a LOI force?

After securing European football for the second season, alongside recent cash injections, Bohemians appear set to become a force in the League of Ireland.

Bohemians have won the League of Ireland title eleven times and, along with Shamrock Rovers, hold the record for the most wins in European competition.

However, the oldest League of Ireland club in continuous existence spent a few years in the wilderness of the Premier Division between 2011 and 2018. During that time, they failed to finish above fifth and therefore were unable to compete in the Europa League.

However, after securing European football for the second season in a row, alongside recent cash injections in the form of player deals, signs seem to point to Bohs becoming a force in Irish football again in the years ahead.

Matt Doherty sale – a huge cash boost for the club

Molineux Stadium in Wolverhampton.

Bohemians are celebrating their 130th year as a club this year, reminding people that they are not only the oldest club in Ireland but one of the longest-running sides in the world.

North Dublin residents have been able to join in with the celebrations, with a Bohs-liveried bus in the city and a huge and highly impressive display on the side of Liberty Hall on the Liffey.

This landmark birthday isn’t the only thing that fans of the club have had to be happy about in recent times though. One of the main turning points in Bohs’ recent history is to do with the sale of Matt Doherty to Wolverhampton Wanderers.

The Republic of Ireland international spent a year on the youth side at Bohemians between 2009 and 2010. Here, he caught the eye of Premier League scouts despite having not played in the senior squad at Dalymount Park.

Indeed, the right-back impressed Wolves during a pre-season game against them in 2010. Bohs sold Doherty for a mere €91,000 (£75,000) at that time, which now looks like a steal for the Premier League club after his massive success in the English top flight.

However, the Irish club cleverly inserted a sell-on clause into the deal, meaning that they would receive a ten per cent share of any future transfer fees.

For that reason, when Doherty signed for Tottenham Hotspur in the summer for around £15 million, Bohemians received approximately £1.5 million (€1.6 million) of that.

For a side in the League of Ireland, where there is significantly less cash investment than in the English divisions, this is a serious boost that could lead to significant improvements at the club.

Big sponsorships and partnerships – new and old sponsors

Thanks to sponsorship deals, the Bohemians are set to become a force in the League of Ireland.
Credit: Twitter / @bfcdublin

The sale of Doherty will have come as a pleasant surprise to Bohs, but not something they will have been expecting.

In fact, it was a shock to the football world when the player who made 260 appearances for Wolves and was so integral to Nuno Espirito Santo’s side suddenly signed for a rival top-flight club.

The money from the sell-on clause, therefore, is simply a bonus on top of some other smart business moves Bohemians have made in recent years.

One of the main revenue streams for Bohemians that has helped them reclaim their position as challengers to Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers’ supremacy has been through their shrewd sponsorship and partnership deals.

The main shirt sponsor for the 2020 season and over the next four years is local Phibsborough business Des Kelly Interiors, who were the previous sponsor during the successful years of 2002 to 2011.

During that time, Bohs topped the league on three occasions and came second twice. The partnership covers the whole club, and the Des Kelly logo will appear on all the kits from the grassroots level all the way to the first team.

In addition to the main sponsors, Bohs have deals with numerous other successful companies that can help promote the brand.

One of these is the online betting company Mr Green, one of the old shirt sponsors from past seasons. While the well-known gambling site is no longer on the strip, Bohs still have an official partnership with them.

This is along with their recent agreement with local brewer Porterhouse, who agreed to share 50c of every pint of Bohs Light lager sold in the bars in and around Dalyer.

The return of European competition – another boost for the club

The return of European competition is a great boost of the Bohemians in the League of Ireland.

Perhaps the astute business going on behind the scenes at the club has been the reason why Bohs managed to register third last year and look set to finish second this, thus securing European football.

But the fact that they are now back in the Europa League will also be of enormous benefit for the side that is trying to bring back its glory days at the top of Irish football.

Irish clubs competing in the qualifying rounds of the Europa League can earn upwards of €500,000 before even confirming a place in the group stages of the competition.

This means that simply appearing in the first qualifying round against Fehervar FC in August will have provided a nice cash injection for Bohemians despite the fact that they lost the game on penalties.

With numerous sources of revenue streaming into the club at all levels from the bottom to the top, Bohemians have the potential to be a force in the League of Ireland once again. It would not be surprising to see the Dublin side win its first title since 2009 very soon.