In the last week over 100,000 football fans flocked to the Aviva Stadium to see the glamour friendlies involving English Premier League giants Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal.

The massive attendances gave rise to debate about the lack of crowds at League of Ireland games but Dundalk’s Brian Gartland doesn’t think fans should have to choose between the two leagues.

"There is the age old argument when it comes to this," Gartland told the Soccer Republic Extra Podcast.

"People say, 'would you not follow your own, why do you have to follow the Premier League?'. You can follow everything, it doesn't have to be one or the other, you can follow both.

"There is a bit of stigma to League of Ireland and football here. The big thing is, if you want to change it... you need sponsorship.

"You can give out about 100,000 people going to watch but they are going into a nice stadium, they saw the likes of Liverpool put out nearly all their best players. Who doesn't want to see them play?"

The defender believes that if soccer in Ireland wants to attract big numbers it needs build from the bottom up and learn from past mistakes.

"When you look at the Liam Miller and Páirc Uí Chaoimh thing, that summed it up. Turner's Cross is a great facility, a great stadium, one of the best we've played in but down that side of the country, there was no other alternative for soccer to be played in.

"The GAA have grounds all over. People say you can't build, there has to be a demand. You have to have a plan in place, you need to start slowly. You have to start now. You might not see it for 30 or 40 years but you reap the rewards then. The GAA have done it over time and they are the focal point of communities and they have done it so well.

"When you see 100,000 people going to these games you know there is the appetite there but there has to be facilities for people to enjoy. You have to remember it's a product."

Although Dundalk are currently one of the most stable and successful clubs in the league, Gartland is very empathetic towards the situation in Bray and Limerick. He believes the players are all on the same side.

"We've all said that we will row in together, we will support each other, that's a massive thing because if the lads are balloting for a strike they need the support of all the other workers, not just the lads who haven't got paid.

"They need everyone to feel the same. They know they have our support, because it could be us another day.

"People come in and they have great intentions but it needs to be viable. We talk about Bray's crowds not being great and someone might come in and say the crowds will double if we do this or that and we will do our budget on that. You can't do it unless it's going to happen.

"In the background there is a lot to be sorted. I did my thesis on the merge when the FAI took over, there was all this positivity about it but that hasn't changed.

"The fund doesn't address the problem - it kicks it down the can. What happens when that fund ends? It's a great safety net but it doesn’t solve the problem."