Derry City seeking approval to welcome fans back to Brandywell next Monday
DERRY CITY Football Club could be the first League of Ireland club to welcome back supporters when they host St. Patrick’s Athletic at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium next Monday night!
The Brandywell club is currently seeking approval from the FAI and Derry City and Strabane District Council to facilitate the safe return of a limited number of spectators for the visit of the Dubliners.
The Northern Ireland Executive has agreed a set of new regulations that will come into force from May 24th which includes the restricted return of fans to outdoor sports events.
While the decision to permit 500 spectators to affiliated outdoor football matches is expected to be ratified by the Executive on Thursday, Derry City FC and the Council have wasted no time in making the necessary preparations.
Indeed, Derry City has already opened discussions with the Council and the FAI this week as they put the wheels in motion.
The FAI has already indicated Derry would get the green light to allow fans through the turnstiles, providing the association’s Covid guidelines and social distancing measures are adhered to.
A spokesperson for the Council confirmed that it has ‘received information from the NI Executive in relation to the easing of restrictions to permit the return of some spectators to outdoor sporting events.
“The Council is working closely with Derry City FC and the relevant sporting authorities to facilitate this and to ensure the relevant health and safety measures and risk assessments are in place to ensure a safe return for everyone.”
Stormont has agreed to allow 1,000 spectators to attend next Friday’s Irish Cup final at Mourneview Park as a test event with several mitigating measures in place including contact tracing systems, reduced social distancing measures and Covid tests.
It’s not yet known, however, what measures will be in place for fans attending Derry City fixtures at Brandywell, how many fans will be safely accommodated or how they will be selected. Those finer details will be ironed out by the club once given the green light by the relevant authorities.
If those plans are not in place by next Monday night’s game, Derry’s next home match is against Bohemians on June 11th next - the same opponents for Derry’s last Brandywell fixture to house spectators on February 28th 2020.
Derry City General Manager, Dodie McGuinness confirmed discussions with the relevant stakeholders had taken place but stressed the decision to permit fans through the turnstiles on Monday night has yet to be approved.
“We have had discussions with the Council and the FAI today and we have to prepare safety and risk assessments to be able to facilitate fans returning for Monday,” she said. “They then have to be cleared and certificates issued so there’s a lot of paperwork to be done in terms of getting it sorted out.
“We’re only a couple of steps forward from when the Executive announced it last week. We have no confirmation on figures or the amount of people the Brandywell can safely facilitate at this stage. So while the wheels are in motion, there’s a lot of paperwork and a lot of health and safety considerations to be taken into account.
“It’s a tight timeframe but if it’s able to be done we will do it. However, at this stage nothing has changed other than we’ve spoken to the FAI, we’ve spoken to the the Council and discussions will continue this week.”
The Brandywell club will continue to liaise with relevant stakeholders throughout the week and it’s expected those fans who availed of the club’s membership scheme will be kept informed.