DERRY CITY may be forced to set aside their traditional rivalry with Finn Harps after chairman, Philip O’Doherty claimed the club may be forced to consider the possibility of ground-sharing with the Co. Donegal men for the start of the 2016 season.
Should work on the multi-million pound redevelopment of Brandywell Stadium overlap with the start of the 2016 Airtricity League season then Derry City will make approaches to the Ballybofey club to discuss the possibility of a ground share agreement for a short period.
Whether or not it’s a viable option remains to be seen, but Mr O’Doherty is refusing to rule it out at this stage.
Indeed, it is considered to be one possible option to avoid any disruption to the ‘Candy Stripes’ league campaign according to Mr O’Doherty who also suggested the club could be forced to make an arrangement with the FAI to play its first round of league games away from Brandywell to allow work to be completed.
Derry City will meet with representatives of Derry City and Strabane District Council later this week to discuss the timescale for the redevelopment works which is expected to commence before Christmas.
All funding is now in place after the Social Investment Fund signed off on £1.5 million for the stadium last Friday and the tendering process has also begun.
If we get the work underway this side of Christmas it will be touch and go for the start of the season and we might need a bit of leeway from the FAI or even use Finn Harps’ stadium if that’s possible.Philip O’Doherty
The demolition of the Glentoran Stand is expected to be completed by the time of Derry City’s next home match against Bray Wanderers on Friday night and Mr O’Doherty is delighted with how quickly the project is moving forward.
“If we get the work underway this side of Christmas it will be touch and go for the start of the season and we might need a bit of leeway from the FAI or even use Finn Harps’ stadium if that’s possible.
“We are going to look at all options including the possibility of talking to Finn Harps about using their ground for a short period,” confirmed the Derry City chairman. “We will know later this week but we might have to ask them for that ground sharing possibility.
“It will be very difficult getting people to the games but it’s such a huge boost for us to get this done and we might have to put up with a bit of disruption to begin with.
“It may not suit Finn Harps at all.” he continued. “And they might tell us they can’t facilitate us. So we might have to look at other options - we don’t know.
“What might have to happen is that we ask the FAI to play our first four games away from home - that’s one of the possibilities.
“We will wait and see what the programme is but ideally we would like work to be finished to coincide with the start of the season. They might still be working around the ground but if they can get the pitch down then that would be something.
“The letter of offer was emailed on Friday so the full £6.25 million is in place,” he continued. “The designs are ready to go, all the drawings and specifications are ready so they just have to agree how it’s going to be tendered.
“I’m certainly hopeful they will get going sometime during November or December depending on how things pan out so I’m delighted.
“It’s time to focus on getting it done. We will be meeting with Council this week to discuss the programme of work because it’s vital we get moving very quickly.
“We’re just looking at the options at the minute. We need to talk to Council this week about the programme first of all to get an idea of a project programme, i.e, a start date, a finish date and when are we going to be out of the ground.
“It will have to move very quickly once we do get the programme and then we’ll have to make arrangements,” concluded the Chairman.