Derry City set for talks with Council about return to grass pitch at Brandywell Stadium
DERRY City chairman Mr Philip O'Doherty will make the case to revert back to a natural grass pitch at Brandywell Stadium 'item number one' on the agenda when the club sits down for 'open and frank' talks with Derry City and Strabane District Council.
The existing artificial 3G pitch was installed as part of the Brandywell Stadium refurbishment which was completed in 2017 and it's understood to be nearing the end of its projected lifespan.
And Mr O'Doherty revealed he will be inviting FAI officials along to talks with Council to discuss the possibility of replacing the synthetic surface with grass.
There's no doubt Derry's form was better on the road last season and Mr O'Doherty agrees Ruaidhri Higgins' team is better suited to playing on grass as showcased in Sunday's magnificent FAI Cup Final victory at the Aviva Stadium.
It has been a source of frustration for City players and Higgins, who has been pictured watering the surface himself before games, and has admitted he would prefer to play home matches on a grass surface.
"That's above my paygrade, so I won't be making the decision" explained the Derry boss. "It's a Council-owned ground and the Council have been brilliant to us, they work with us. If you're asking me would I prefer a big grass pitch, the answer is 'Yes'. If they change it to a grass pitch, then brilliant; if they don't then we deal with it."
Mr O'Doherty claims a decision on the playing surface must be made 'fairly quickly' and insists Derry City Football Club, as tenants, are prepared to 'help' with any resurfacing plans or upgrades at the Lone Moor Road venue.
"Well you saw the performance on Sunday," said Mr O'Doherty when asked about the prospect of returning to a grass pitch at Brandywell. "I can't tell you too much other than it is agenda item number one.
"There are various things happening about 3G pitches. By and large the first few years we had that 3G pitch people were happy with it. However, in terms of European football there's a move away from it. Some of the European leagues have banned it totally. Premier League matches in Holland for example. Indeed, from 2025 Eredivisie clubs are obliged to play on natural grass.
"We're going to have an open and frank discussion about the possibilities and bring the FAI with us," he added. "The 3G pitch has a lifespan, I think there are two more years left on it. I don't want to go into too much detail right now but rest assured we know the importance of that surface.
"It has to be decided fairly quickly too so it will be a discussion with Derry City and Strabane Council. People need to realise they own it and we're the tenants but sometimes tenants can help as well.
"I certainly want to have a discussion with John Kelpie (Derry and Strabane District Council CEO). There were a lot of councillors at the match on Sunday and they know this is coming down the line. Hopefully this will give them an incentive to see that the people running the football club, and playing and managing the team, are here for the long term.
"This football club will really make the name of Derry stand out a lot more and make it more attractive for people."