DERRY CITY F.C. has confirmed it will stage its UEFA Europa League first round qualifier this summer at the Showgrounds after Sligo Rovers substantially reduced the fee for use of its facilities.
It’s understood Sligo officials had initially requested in the region of between E10,000 and E15,000 for the rental of the ground given the refurbishment of Brandywell Stadium, but those demands backfired as both sets of supporters considered the fee ludicrious adding that it would damage the close relationship between the clubs.
While there was no one from either club available for comment last night, it’s understood the ‘Bit O’Red’ have since significantly reduced the rental figure of their facilities by as much as two-thirds.
While redevelopment work at Brandywell Stadium is understood to be ahead of schedule, the local facility will not be ready to host Derry’s European opener on June 29th.
Dundalk’s Oriel Park had been reportedly identified as the venue of choice after Derry were priced out of using the Showgrounds, but it’s believed Sligo’s grass pitch is the preferred option for City boss, Kenny Shiels.
Derry City supporters would also prefer the Sligo option, given the ease in terms of travel to the west.
So, with talks having since re-opened between the clubs, it now appears that a suitable agreement has been negotiated.
That said, the powers that be at Brandywell were certainly grateful that both Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers had immediately offered use of their respective venues, but the Showgrounds was always the preferred location.
The draw for the first and second qualifying rounds of the Europa League will take place on Monday, June 19, with the first leg of the first qualifying round set to take place on Thursday, June 29.
After finishing in an impressive third place in the Premier Division last season, Derry are set to compete in Europe for the first time since the 2014 campaign, when they were defeated 6-2 on aggregate by FC Shakhtyor Soligorsk in the third qualifying round of the Europa League.