Funding setback for Brandywell Stadium

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The planned refurbishment of the Brandywell stadium suffered a setback this week when an application for funding was rejected.

Derry City Council had applied for £1.1 million from Sport NI to carry out health and safety work to upgrade the stadium, which is owned by Derry City Council.

Derry City Football Club play their home games at the Brandywell but it is also used by other sporting bodies.

The application was for funding to carry out health and safety works at the stadium, including repairs to a wall which is in danger of collapse.

However, Jeff Ashe, Derry City Council’s general manager for leisure, said the application was refused.

“We’d an application in with Sports NI which would have allowed us to do immediate general safety and comfort repairs to Brandywell stadium,” he said.

“Unfortunately we learned just after the new year that the money has been frozen for the next two to three years.

“That puts pressure back on the council to find funding,” he said.

The news came after the chairperson of Derry City Football Club, Philip O’Doherty, described the conditions at the venue as an “embarrassment.”

Mr O’Doherty said the stadium needs an upgrade immediately. “Every year when we apply to get into the FA they do a survey of the ground and the list of unacceptable items is getting longer all the time.

“There’s also been health and safety issues, particularly around the wall on the Brandywell Road side. It needs repaired urgently in case it collapses and that alone will cost around a million pounds,” he said.

The chairman called on the Council to ensure the repairs are carried out. “We are just one of many tenants. We pay a rent so we are looking for the council to deliver a stadium that is fit for purpose. It’s embarrassing bringing supporters to the ground,” he said.

At a meeting of Derry City Council’s development committee this week, SDLP councillor Gerard Diver called for representatives of Derry City Football Club to be invited to a council meeting to discuss the Brandywell refurbishment plans.