It's all systems go for increased Brandywell capacity after successful Derry City test event

DERRY CITY’S return of spectators test event last Friday night has been hailed a success by Derry City and Strabane District Council who will now be working closely with the club to increase capacity for Monday’s visit of Sligo Rovers.

By Simon Collins
Monday, 14th June 2021, 7:34 pm
Updated Monday, 14th June 2021, 7:36 pm
A section of the Derry City support at Friday night's match in the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium. Photograph by Kevin Moore (MCI).
A section of the Derry City support at Friday night's match in the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium. Photograph by Kevin Moore (MCI).

A total of 155 Derry City supporters returned to the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium after a 461 days wait to watch the Candy Stripes earn a 1-1 draw with Bohemians, thanks to a 94th minute Marc Walsh strike.

The randomised ticket draw for the next home match on Monday, June 21st will take place later this week once capacity has been finalised with members being updated via email but it’s hoped successful fans will be permitted to purchase up to a maximum of two tickets for the match.

Entering the stadium via Gate 9 at the Long Tower Youth Club car park, members who purchased an e-ticket for Friday’s game had temperature checks before reaching the turnstiles and were shown their seats in the Southend Park by matchday stewards.

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A spokesperson for Council said fans ‘co-operated well with the advice around mask wearing, maintaining social distancing and entering and exiting the ground.

“The Council is working with Derry City Football Club to review the match day arrangements with a view to additional fans being admitted for the next home fixture on Monday June 21st.”

Head of Matchday Operations and Event Controller at Brandywell, Mr Billy Scampton was delighted with how the test event went and believes it showed the club can safely manage the return of supporters.

“Friday night was an excellent success,” said Mr Scampton. “All the hard work with the various partner agencies paid dividends.

“I would like to pay tribute to the Derry City supporters who we worked closely with to ensure the success of the first socially distanced return of supporters to Brandywell.

“Building on the success of Friday we are hopeful this can be used as a positive to increase the capacity for future games but, again, the club will continue to put the safety of the supporters and the club staff first. We will approach the Sligo game with the same diligence and consideration.

“Friday night was certainly a big feather in the club’s cap and it showed it can be managed very well.”

Mr Scampton added that all the senior matchday management personnel have successfully completed the Covid 19 Compliance Officer course and the Return to Sport course under Sport Ireland.

As club membership significantly exceeded the capacity, those supporters in attendance on Friday were selected randomly and their names provided to Future Ticketing who enabled the digital ticketing sales process on their platform.

The process was met by stinging criticism from a section of fans on social media who called for greater transparency around the selection of members who could avail of the matchday ticket option.

Club members who availed of the four tiered membership scheme were allocated a unique 13 digit barcode. For the Bohemians game, eligible barcodes were randomly selected using an automated computerised draw, and then informed by email if they had been eligible for a ticket.

If the ticket was not claimed within the cut-off point or those selected were unable to attend, then it was made available to the next randomly selected members on the list.

The successful member was directed to the club’s website where they could enter their barcode and purchase their e-ticket for the match.

The tickets could then be either printed out and produced on entry or otherwise scanned from a mobile phone.

The same process will apply for the upcoming Sligo Rovers match with a new draw taking place including ALL club members and should the capacity be increased it’s hoped members will be able to buy more than one ticket or avail of a ‘guest member’ option. Members are strongly encouraged to regularly check their email and the club’s social media channels this week for details of ticketing for the Sligo game.