WITH the refurbishment of Brandywell Stadium having now gone out to tender, Derry City Football Club faces a race against time to secure a new “home from home” over the summer months.
Indeed, it’s now clear that home games for the “Candy Stripes” during the forthcoming 2016 season will finish in late June while the Brandywell Greyhound Racing Company’s weekly race meetings and trials will also come to a halt for a number of months.
Racing for the local “doggy men” will not recommence until the new council racing track is constructed in the neighbouring Brandywell Showgrounds area, local followers of the sport now expecting a three months lay-off.
MAJOR FIXTURES ISSUES
In an effort to avoid major fixture issues, Derry City have approached the Football Association of Ireland to secure permission to switch a number of their fixtures, but the results from those early approaches have yet to bear fruit.
Scheduled home games to be staged during the months of July, August and September - against Longford Town, St. Patrick’s Athletic, Cork City and Galway United plus possible games in both the EA Sports and F.A.I. Cups - must now be played away from home with the “Candy Stripes” hoping to persuade their opponents to play at the Brandywell before the diggers move in.
In short, the local club must now be prepared to play every game away from home from July onwards.
While the F.A.I. approach is clearly the preferred option, Derry City can take nothing for granted with chairman, Mr. Philip O’Doherty, having already made contact with a number of local sporting organisations seeking assistance.
“We’ve met with the Inishowen League last Friday night to discuss the possibility of staging games at Maginn Park in Buncrana,” he said.
“We had a good meeting with their representatives and while the Inishowen League were both welcoming and supportive, improvements must be made to Maginn Park in order to stage senior Premier Divsion games,” he noted.
“Therefore, should our approach to the other not be accommodated, then the F.A.I. will also have to adjudicate on us possibly playing matches in Buncrana,” added Mr. O’Doherty.
It’s also understood that the chairman will also be in contact with local Irish League neighbours, Institute F.C., following his return from business in America later this week.
“We’ve got to investigate all possibilities,” he maintained. “We have an excellent relationship with Institute having played them regularly in pre-season fixtures over the years and I expect to make contact with them should we fail to achieve success with our preferred option.
“There’s also the possibility of approaching Finn Harps to use their facilities in Ballybofey.
“At the end of the day, it all comes down to what the F.A.I. decides. The governing body will have the final say.
“At this stage I’m not sure what will happen but, first and foremost, I’m delighted that the tendering process to redevelop the stadium is now underway.
“Hopefully things will work out for us but over the next few weeks, members of our Board of Directors will attempt to sort out the difficulties we could face in late summer,” concluded Mr. O’Doherty.