Eastwood writes to UEFA over decision to rule out Windsor Park as Derry City v Tobol venue
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Mr. Eastwood said the decision underscored the urgent need for greater investment in the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium.
He has written to UEFA highlighting the reasons for requesting the game to be played at Windsor after European football’s governing body denied the request for the game to be played in Belfast.
"A venue may be the ground of the home club or another ground in the same or another city within the territory of its association.
"Therefore, Derry City FC will have to play in Tallaght as originally announced for the UECL 3rd qualifying round home fixture on August 17, 2023,” a UEFA spokesperson said.
UEFA said exceptions could only be made should no other suitable venue be available on the 'home territory' of the competing club.
Mr. Eastwood said the decision was disappointing.
“The Brandywell has served as the home of Derry City for decades, and it is disappointing that it does not currently meet the criteria set by UEFA for hosting such significant matches.
"Derry fans have been robbed of a famous night at the stadium with many facing a long trek to Dublin which will incur significant costs, particularly for families who give the club such great support,” he said.
The Foyle MP said the existing position made the case for the accelerated development of the Brandywell.
“I thank the IFA and Linfield FC for their backing and allowing the game to take place at Windsor would have been a significant and historic gesture, but we need these matches being played in Derry.
"In recent years we have seen Irish teams make significant progression in European football and with Derry’s renewed success on the field we hope to have many big European nights to look forward to in the future.
"We can’t allow ourselves to end up in a position where games are being moved every year and to address this we must see the long-awaited upgrade of the Brandywell.
"Funding from the Executive’s Sub-Regional Stadia programme was earmarked for improvement works at the Brandywell, but was shelved with the collapse of the Stormont institutions amid constant delays in releasing this money.
"This stadium is not only used by Derry City FC, but by many teams throughout our city and region and is a key part of our sporting and cultural landscape, we need to ensure the Brandywell meets international standards and is capable of hosting major matches in future.
"Derry has waited long enough, these funds need to be released and in the absence of an Executive civil servants must be allowed to act."
The second leg of Derry City’s crunch tie against the Kazakh-side who lead 1-0 after the first leg in Kostanay will now take place at Tallaght Stadium at 7.45pm next Thursday evening. Fans face an eight hour round trip if they wish to travel to see the game.