Why Brandywell just won’t do

The Brandywell, home of Derry City FC. Mandatory Credit Lorcan Doherty/Presseye.
The Brandywell, home of Derry City FC. Mandatory Credit Lorcan Doherty/Presseye.

The recent announcement by Derry City Council that they’re pressing ahead with a business case for the re-development of Brandywell Stadium has prompted former Derry City ‘keeper EDDIE MAHON, who’s written a history of the club, to write an open letter to the Council on the issue....

To: Derry City Council - Open Letter

Re: Proposed renovations to Brandywell

Dear Sirs/Madams,

I am writing in connection with your recent announcement of plans to regurgitate the Brandywell football “stadium” plans; plans which I am not aware of being subjected to close public scrutiny before your press release. Prior to this - on 24 May, actually - I had phoned your offices to arrange a meeting with your person-in-charge but was told she was “not available”. I was told, however, that two of her staff would take her place but that one of them was also “unavailable”. Her office promised to contact me the moment he became “available”. That was on 24 May; I’m still sitting by my phone! Though it’s now pretty irrelevant as the horse has (hopefully temporarily) bolted. Hence my availing of this medium as my only source of contact with you.

Enclosed, herewith, is a list of 16 fatal inadequacies in your ‘plan’, any one of which should have been enough to give you pause before spending a penny of public money on what is a non-starter. And may I point out that each point is (far from being a matter of opinion) a solid fact!

What I would ask you to do now is, after you’ve read this, to let me know your considered opinion on why you think this is even nearly good enough for our city, its people and its football club. And a “thank you for your letter, your remarks have been noted” will not fill the bill.

I happen to think that people who pay their rates and taxes should have some input into how they’re spent - or, in this instance, misspent. Political deals - if this comes under that description - should not be done to the detriment of any section of the community; a community which includes the football family.

I look forward to your comments on the matter.

Yours sincerely,

Eddie Mahon

THE FATAL FLAWS

1. Brandywell too small to host Category (C) European games - the stage Shamrock Rovers reached this year.

2. Legislation means it can only be rented for one year at a time.

3. Because of its location there will always be security problems for sensitive games with the consequent detrimental effect on the local community. I am reliably informed that the policing costs for the last Linfield visit were around £90,000.

4. The greyhound track which surrounds the playing pitch prohibits its required expansion.

5. The greyhound track poses a toxocara canis risk to the ballboys and youngsters who play at half-time.

6. The greyhound track destroys the football atmosphere by keeping the crowd distant from the pitch.

7. There is a nine foot diagonal slope on the pitch itself.

8. The traffic congestion on match nights is a nuisance to local householders, especially those on Lone Moor Road who sometimes can’t even park outside their own homes.

9. Brandywell is situated in a location in Derry which a significant section of the city’s population see as “unfriendly” - with the consequent major loss of potential revenue to the club.

10. There is no security of tenure for the club.

11. The fact that the club will not own the ground but be permanent tenants means they can never have an income stream!

12. There is no roads/public transport/car parking in the vicinity. It couldn’t pass even the most lax planning regulations.

13. There is absolutely no hospitality (cafes, bars, services, etc) infrastructure near the ground for both visiting and home fans.

14. The Irish Society Charter places restrictions on what can be done at Brandywell.

15. There is no suitable ‘home’ ground available while the ‘new’ Brandywell is under construction - a task that will take up to two years!

16. All of the above present a dreadful image of our city to visiting teams in particular and visitors in general.