GLASGOW Celtic’s first team will officially open Brandywell’s refurbished 6,000 seater stadium next year according to chairman, Mr. Philip O’Doherty.
Derry City’s leading official has managed to build such a promise into the recent transfer of Michael Duffy to the “Hoops,” but the chairman said he cannot take anything for granted though he was happy with the response he received when negotiating the Duffy deal.
“Obviously, we played our part in attempting to get the best deal possible when Michael joined Celtic and while nothing has been put down on paper, we reached a verbal understanding that such a match was possible.
“It formed part of our negotiations and the people involved refused to dismiss the possibility of bringing the first team over to officially open a new-look Brandywell Stadium when the refurbishment had been completed,” added the chairman.
“In fact, I distinctly remember one of the Celtic people suggesting to me that Michael Duffy would basically become one of the Celtic Academy players, but when I informed him that Michael Duffy had already scored in the Europa League, I think they took a step back,” smiled Mr. O’Doherty.
“I asked them did they have any Academy players who have scored in the Europa League and I think my response was appreciated.
“However, as I’ve stated, nothing has been put down on paper and nothing can be taken for granted but yes, I can state that I did receive a favourable response when I suggested that we wanted Celtic’s first team over to officially open the new-look stadium.
“The people I’ve spoken to have agreed to keep that channel open and they gave me an assurance that they would do everything in their power to have the Celtic first team avaiaable to facilitate a visit to the Brandywell when our refurbishment has been completed.
“And I have taken it upon myself to see this part of the deal through. It’s quite a way off, obviously, but I think a capacity seated attendance of 6,000 seated fans would help raise significant funding, prior to the 2016 season kick-off.”
Mr. O’Doherty is also keen to remain in the Brandywell hotset to oversee the proposed refurbishment.
Indeed, having received recent documentation from the Football Association of Ireland in relation to the continued development of member clubs within their own communities, Mr. O’Doherty felt the development would prove significant.
“In the refurbishment of the Brandywell we, as a club, must raise finance to fund and fit-out a corporate area within the new stand. That funding must be met by ourselves and we’re keen to have quality corporate facilities included in the development.
“Those facilities will also be used by the local community and that’s very much in line with what the FAI are hoping to achieve with the other clubs, insisting that the local community must play an integral involvement.
“I’d like to think that Derry City could lead the way in that regard. I feel both the FAI and IFA, in Northern Ireland, will continue the push to put more finance into football in Ireland to help improve the standard of both the clubs and the facilities they have.
“Our priority is to attempt to increase our spectator numbers and I feel that by offering the proper facilities in Brandywell Stadium, that objective can be met.”