There may be fewer scandals and not as many financial crashes, but not everyone is convinced that the League of Ireland is heading in the right direction.

After a troubled season last year that saw Derry City get expelled from the league and Cork City implode, the only way was up for the domestic game in Ireland.

So when the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) introduced Airtricity as the new title sponsor at the league’s launch in late February, there was a hum of positivity about the upcoming season.

The FAI took control of the league in 2007 on a five-year term and that was recently extended for another five years simply because the work they have done to help restructure the league has been crucial.

Of course, there are more than a few dissenting voices stating their opinion on what needs to change, but the FAI have helped to drag each of the clubs towards a more professional set-up.

Some clubs are coping better than others. Galway United have been the first to sound the warning bell that they are struggling to sort out their cash-flow problem, while Finn Harps have expressed similar concerns.

On the flip side, Shamrock Rovers are thriving after landing the mammoth Europa League qualifying tie against Juventus. They might have played the first leg in their 6,000-capacity Tallaght Stadium, but bonus income from UEFA, TV rights and sponsorship mean they are set to land a substantial sum.

Rovers got through to face the Italian giants after beating Israeli side Bnei Yehuda, although it has been quite a disappointing year for League of Ireland clubs in Europe. While Dundalk were blown away by Levski Sofia and Sporting Fingal were outclassed by CS Maritimo, the post-mortem for Bohemians’ Champions League exit is still ongoing.

Bohs are just one of two full-time teams in the league and swept their way to a second successive Premier Division title win last term. So expectations were quite high when they were drawn against Welsh champions TNS. But after winning the first leg 1-0, they crashed to a shock 4-0 defeat in Oswestry.

“We have all let each other down – players, manager, staff, everyone. We all let the supporters, the club, the league and the country down,” said Bohs manager Pat Fenlon after the loss.

“It’s time to take action. We have to look at the whole picture and make a decision as a football club about what we want to do.”

The fear that drifted through the league after Fenlon’s comments were “if the best team in the country are asking serious questions about the best way, where does that leave the other clubs?”.

St Patrick’s Athletic boss Pete Mahon thinks the problems in the league are rooted a lot deeper and reckons it is time to reassess the whole model from playing a March to October season to stadium infrastructure to how funding is spent.

“In spite of everyone’s best efforts crowds are down. The full-time model was in situ for three or four years, it didn’t really work,” said Mahon.

In contrast to those views, the standard of play has rarely ever been better with the 10-team Premier Division proving to be extremely competitive and the title race should go right the way to the final weeks of the campaign.

The First Division might have Derry City as the runaway leaders, although there are up to five clubs all challenging for promotion and the second tier is a much better league this season.

So, there are definitely mixed vibes within the League of Ireland right now as the good work by the FAI is helping to steer clubs away from the financial pitfalls that previously tripped them up. But there remain criticisms that many of the problems are just being brushed out of sight and not properly dealt with.