Derry City confident of securing funding for phase two of Mark Farren Stand

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​DERRY City Football Club Chief Executive Sean Barrett believes the club will be considered a 'priority' when it comes to the allocation of the Sub-Regional Stadia fund and is currently preparing a business case for the completion of the Mark Farren Stand at Brandywell Stadium.

​A total of £36.2 million was pledged by Stormont in 2011 and designed to improve regional football grounds in Northern Ireland and given substantial rising costs and the passage of time, there have been calls to increase the funding to more than £100 million.

Communities Minister Gordon Lyons recently offered some positive news to those football clubs waiting on their allocation of the fund saying he wanted to get the money out 'as soon as possible'.

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Mr Lyons said: "£36.2m doesn't go as far in 2024 as it did in 2011, and so I will be speaking to executive colleagues about the next phase of the sub-regional funding."

A view of the Mark Farren Stand at the Ryan McBride Brandywell StadiumA view of the Mark Farren Stand at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium
A view of the Mark Farren Stand at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium

Phase two of the Mark Farren Stand which involves the construction of two additional wings at either side of the current structure will increase the capacity of the stand from 1,225 to 2,391 spectators and the works have already been approved.

A new business case which includes an up-to-date costing for the refurbishment will be submitted by the Brandywell club in the coming weeks and Mr Barrett is confident the work will then get the green light, ideally once the planned North Stand at the Brandywell Road end is completed.

"There's a pot of £36 million which may well go up to over £100 million for the sub regional development funding which has been announced with Casement Park as well," explained Mr Barrett.

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"We've been at meetings and we've been allocated a certain amount of money now to do a business case and we're basically in the pot for the completion of the Mark Farren Stand. The business case has to be in by the end of March and they're hoping to get the funding available.

Derry City chairman Philip O’Doherty and CEO Sean Barrett at the club’s Fans Forum held in the City Hotel on Saturday afternoon. Photograph: George SweeneyDerry City chairman Philip O’Doherty and CEO Sean Barrett at the club’s Fans Forum held in the City Hotel on Saturday afternoon. Photograph: George Sweeney
Derry City chairman Philip O’Doherty and CEO Sean Barrett at the club’s Fans Forum held in the City Hotel on Saturday afternoon. Photograph: George Sweeney

"The Council [Derry City and Strabane District Council] has already got the drawings done for the rest of the stand and the costings were down last year so the business case will be quite simple for us.

"With a bit of luck, once we've finished the North Stand, we may well start and complete the Mark Farren Stand as well which would be brilliant."

Several clubs including Coleraine and Glentoran are also expecting their share of the funding to upgrade their respective stadia and while Derry City is affiliated to the FAI and plays in the south, Mr Barrett explains the club ticks all the boxes in terms of being eligible for the programme.

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"In the past the argument was we didn't play in the Irish League and we shouldn't be entitled to it but our argument is we're from Derry, we're from the north and we're entitled to it and they've accepted that.

"In fact, of the six clubs that are in the first round, we're the A1 priority. The reason we are is quite simply because we fill every ground every week and have loads of people who can't get into the games every week.

"So from that point of view we tick every box. I hate turning people away who want to support their local club and hopefully with the North Stand and the Mark Farren Stand it will be brilliant. So it's very positive."