Be born early in the year if you want to be a footballer

FOOTBALLERS born earlier in the year are more likely to be picked to play at an elite level.

Brothers Robbie and David Butler from University College Cork found there was a bias towards those born earlier in a selection year.

Because of the club registration process, some players end up having a physical and psychological advantage over their younger and smaller peers.

Robbie, a lecturer in the college’s Department of Economics and David, a final-year commerce student at the college, want the Football Association of Ireland to level out the playing field.

“We have found that those born from January to March of any given calendar year have the added physical, cognitive and social advantages over their younger peers when assembled collectively,” explained David.

And, he said, ideally, and family planning permitting, the best time for a budding footballer to be born is in early January.

The brothers believe their findings go some of the way to explaining dropout rates in football that tend to start between the age of 10 and 14.

They based their findings on research conducted on the monthly birth distribution of European under-21, under-19 and under-17 footballers from 2007 to 2009.

The research recommends a re-framing of the environment in which children play under age football to limit advantages of physique at this level.

“You can have players who are technically very good but, unfortunately, very small and, as a result, they may not be selected because the coach wants to win and will pick the biggest player,” said Robbie.

“Education of coaches and mentors is essential. Under age football should concentrate on the development of children. The short term goals of winning should not come before player development,” he stressed.

“It is about producing the right players for the Irish national team — it is not about winning the under-11 league or under-12 cup, or whatever it might be.”

“The pitch should be smaller and so should the goals for younger players. In that way you are reducing the advantage of being big.”

Robbie and David presented their research, titled Relative Age Effects in Association Football, during a meeting with the FAI high performance director, Wim Koevermans.

Their work has also been presented at UCC, the University of Limerick and during the 3rd International Conference in Football and Psychology at the University of London.

Investors stung as receiver appointed to TV company

By Eoin English

THOUSANDS of small investors have been stung following the appointment of a receiver to a community-run television company which tried to set up a digital service.

The Bank of Scotland (Ireland) has appointed Barry Donohue of KPMG as receiver and manager of SCTV Digital, with its registered address at Enterprise House, Ballinrea Road, Carrigaline, Co Cork.

The move has left an estimated 10,500 subscribers across south and north Cork, and parts of Kerry, Tipperary and Waterford, without a TV service.

But thousands of subscribers who invested anything between €300 and €900, and in some cases up to €10,000 in company shares to help fund its planned roll-out of a digital service from 2004, are expected to lose their investments.

Mr Donohue was not available for comment yesterday, but it is understood he is seeking a buyer.

South Coast TV, which was run by volunteers since 1985, beamed an analogue service into some 23,000 homes at its peak.

It brought a landmark case against Anthony O’Reilly’s Princes Holdings in the 1990s — a civil case which set a record at the time after spending 13 weeks in the High Court.

In recent years, the company lost subscribers through competition from Sky and Chorus and had just over 10,500 subscribers in recent years.

In 2004, SCTV was given a licence by the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) to broadcast a digital TV service across Munster.

The company said at the time that it planned to take on Sky and Chorus and invest between €6 million and €8m in the new service which was developed by a French Company, MDS International.

It sought investment from its members and raised just over €1m. However, the board turned down an offer of a €2.5m investment from a single investor because it felt he was seeking too high a stake in the company.

This decision was to prove fatal.

The company’s initial 60-channel digital package, was never fully rolled-out. Some subscribers who invested in 2006 only got their digital service last year.

In 2009, the company’s secretary was Michael O’Sullivan, and its directors were listed as Michael Wall, and brothers John Hurley, Liam Hurley, and Thomas Hurley.

They have all been involved in the company since its foundation.

The company website has been taken down and its phone was not answered yesterday.

Subscribers are getting an on-screen message saying that premium channels have been discontinued and that broadcasting of the free-to-air Irish and British channels will continue for a few more days to allow them transfer to a new service provider.

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