DERRY CITY Chairman Philip O’Doherty has revealed a new transfer policy has been put in place at the Brandywell club.
Kenny Shiels signed 17 players to date this season but of those, seven - Chris Turner, John Cofie, Conor Agnew, Armin Aganovic, Niall Logue, David Hopkirk, Jack Doyle and Dapo Kayode - have already left the club. That statistic prompted Mr. O’Doherty to inform his manager that a new system needed to be implemented before he would sanction any further transfers
We hope these added checks and balances will mean better player selection in the future.Philip O’Doherty
“Some of the players Kenny signed didn’t make it because they weren’t good enough and we have reflected on that,” he stated.
“We have more of a process in place now for assessing players. Kenny is going to be given a bit more time to dig deeper into the back-grounds of players and there will be more rigorous medical assessments done. We hope these added checks and balances will mean better player selection in the future.
“We have got eight league games to go, the FAI Cup starting and an EA Sports Cup final to look forward too, so we just have to focus on getting the best results we can in all three competitions.
“With the new players he has signed, Kenny will be hoping the team improves. We probably haven’t given them enough time to bond with only eight games left - you would have wanted the players earlier in the season - but obviously many of them weren’t available.”
O’Doherty, who has been chairman since 2010, says he is fully committed to the club’s top position for the foreseeable future and pours in close to £350,000 per annum to help keep the club running. Workload can be a problem given travel required with his own company, E&I Engineering, something that concerns the City Chairman.
“My only problem is my work-load. Over this last eight weeks I’ve probably spent 75 per cent of that time away on business travel and that concerns me,” he added.
“But some new board members have come in recently - Declan Callaghan and Joe Doherty - and they’re taking some of the work-load off myself and the other board members so I’m at a good place.
“Obviously I’ve put in a lot of money over these last three or four years. It’s been difficult as we were out of the Brandywell, at Maginn Park for a year and then getting the Brandywell ready to return.
“The stadium was handed over much later than anticipated and we had a difficult start to the season but, putting that behind us now, I would be confident about next year.”
In last Friday’s league defeat to Sligo Rovers, the Candy Stripes fielded only two Derry men in their starting line-up but O’Doherty feels that will change in the future and pointed to Paddy McCourt’s recent appointment as Head of Youth Development as reason for optimism.
“We are spending over £100,000 a year on our youth teams but if the players don’t come through then we have to look outside,” he added. “We always primarily look at local players and I think it’s wrong to say there’s no-one coming through.
“Kenny Shiels has a great record with youth development. I think he goes to most of the youth games - unlike other managers we’ve had, he attends what matches he can.
“It is long-term thinking and takes a while for players to come through. If he’s looking at players that are 15 or 16 then you are talking about three or four years before they are even going to be considered for the first team so it’s not a quick fix.
“A lot of League of Ireland clubs have no youth teams at all, they just buy in players but we try to have balance.
“Paddy (McCourt) was a big appointment and he has really impressed me with his knowledge of the game and his passion for youth football. He’s going to be doing a monthly report via Kenny for the board, as to what he’s finding.
“He’s obviously assessing where we are in terms of the youth set-up at the minute. Maybe in the close season he might do a little bit of restructuring but it’s a big budget that he’s working with.
“Paddy, with his experience and the name that he, will help attract more young players to the club.”
With so much expenditure needed to compete in the League of Ireland there have been calls from some quarters to investigate a return to the Irish League but O’Doherty is happy where the club is at presently though he said will be keeping a close eye on how Institute fare in the Danske Bank Premiership.
“Regardless what league we are in, I think we have to put money in the youth set-up. It’s part of the League of Ireland’s criteria.
“In terms of the Irish League, I think we’re happy with where we are at the minute but it’s going to be interesting to see how Institute’s Brandywell ‘experiment’ works out but could I say I’m delighted Institute won last week. I wish them every success this season and hope they do well but it will be interesting to see how the bigger games unfold at the Brandywell, the likes of Linfield and Coleraine, but I do wish them every success.”
With the season coming to a close O’Doherty wants everyone to focus on the run-in and he’s keeping his fingers crossed Derry can add at least one piece of silverware and qualify for Europe.
“We have a run-in which is extremely important in terms of European qualification. The main thing we should have is qualifying for Europe. We have two cup competitions coming up and I think everyone should be focused on those.
“I do think, given a similar budget as what we had this year, we’ll do better next year and hopefully the players we have brought will bring better results for the remainder of the season.
“I think, with the new Brandywell facilities, it’s more attractive to players now. With the old Brandywell facilities, when you brought players over for trials and they saw the facilitates, we were way, way behind so we had difficulty attracting players. We don’t seem to have that difficulty now. In fact Kenny seems to have brought in a lot of outside players and I think when they saw the facilities at the Brandywell it was easier to get them signed up.”
While Mr. O’Doherty was keen to focus on the future rather than retracing past problems, he stressed he still regards the recent boycott by fans of the Europa League home tie against Dinamo Minsk as unnecessary.
“It has been the same ticket prices for Europe for about six years and I think that was unnecessarily blown up. It should have been discussed internally but unfortunately some fans went to the media and this boycott idea came up.
“It really disrupted the team’s preparation for the game. I’m not saying it cost us getting through but it certainly didn’t help.
“Ticket prices are an issue that we look at all the time but the same people who were criticising high ticket prices, they want an increased budget, so you have to make your mind up with what you want. However, I think overall the ticket prices are at the right level.”