DERRY City Football Club and the Brandywell Greyhound Racing Company appear to be on a collision course over the proposed refurbishment of Brandywell Stadium.
And tempers have since flared following the release of a statement by the football club at the weekend, suggesting that the tender process has been delayed ‘due to continued consultation’ on the project.
Representatives from the greyhound racing company met Derry City and Strabane District Council last week following notification that rent for the proposed new track, to be located in the Showgrounds area of the Brandywell, had been set at £45,000 per annum.
Since then, the Greyhound Company has threatened legal action, suggesting the council had not only increased the rent twenty-fold but, in their view, did not wish to see their sport accommodated in the refurbishment project.
“We have always made it clear that we are delighted to see the refurbishment of the stadium. Obviously as stakeholders, we must protect ourselves and our supporters and having been involved in negotiations with council officials, we were prepared to move to a new track which is to be constructed around a pitch in the Showgrounds.
“We have also accepted the fact that during the movement of the track, our business would have to shut down for a period of up to 12 weeks.
“However, for the chairman of Derry City, Mr. Philip O’Doherty, to hint that our decision to protect our supporters could threaten to delay of the project for up to a year is outrageous,” claimed a spokesperson for Brandywell Racing Company.
“We are delighted to see the upgrade of the stadium and, indeed, sporting facilities in the Brandywell area in general, but we must also protect greyhound racing as we have been here through thick and thin and, indeed, our presence has actually kept the stadium open for decades,” he claimed.
“We have supported Derry City’s push to have the stadium refurbished. We realise and totally understand the need to upgrade, given the possibility of participation in European football, but we must also safeguard our membership and our supporters.
“Having been informed of a possible new annual rent of £45,000 at the eleventh hour by council officials, we feel we must take a stance as such a hike would be unsustainable.
“We now face a situation where many of our members hold the view that both Derry City Football Club and indeed, the local council, do not wish to see us accommodated in the overall project.
“Therefore, we owe it to our supporters to take whatever action is necessary to make sure our interests are catered for and we intend to do just that,” added the spokesman.