DERRY CITY chairman, Philip O’Doherty revealed it will take a whopping £1 million to run Derry City Football Club in 2020 as the Brandywell club attempts to challenge at the top end of Irish football.
Mr O’Doherty, who has almost single-handedly kept the club afloat for the past number of years, insists he’s prepared to invest in his hometown club for the ‘foreseeable future’.
And the local businessman handed manager, Declan Devine a significant vote of confidence yesterday when announcing he had increased his transfer budget for the forthcoming season by 30 per cent on last year - the highest budget for a manager under his 10 year tenure!
Qualification to the Europa League will guarantee the club a minimum of €220,000 which should provide a substantial income stream to meet its operating costs, but Mr O’Doherty felt it was worth a ‘gamble’ to bolster Devine’s coffers as he looks to break into the League of Ireland’s top three in 2020.
“It’s going to cost £1 million to run the football club this year,” claimed the Chairman. “That basically comes from contributions, sponsorship, gate receipts.
“One of the disadvantages we have is we pay VAT on all our gate receipts, whether they’re season tickets or individual match tickets. That’s a 20 per cent disadvantage on that part of our income. So we are hamstrung with that unlike other League of Ireland clubs because there’s no VAT on sporting events in the Republic.”
The City Chairman was delighted with the quick turnaround in fortunes at the club since Devine and his team took the reins in November 2018, insisting the management team had exceeded all expectations.
And he’s confident the further cash injection, as a reward, will allow the club to compete at an even higher level in 2020.
“I was absolutely delighted with last season,” said the Chairman. “The way we ended the season before was demoralising to say the least.
“This man (Declan Devine), and the team he brought with him and the players he brought in, did really well. They met all our expectations and more.
“I think we’re in a stronger place now but we still have a fair bit to go in terms of signings. Declan’s budget has been increased by 30 per cent on last year,” he confirmed. “We’ve taken a bit of a gamble in that and we’re hoping we increase the attendances even more.
“We haven’t increased the ticket prices and we’re expecting a bit more sponsorship but not much more. There’s been a fair amount of effort put in by the Board of Directors to give Declan a bigger budget so he can compete at an even higher level than last year.
“We’re making an effort in terms of increasing the budget and I do think we will challenge again this year.”
With the club’s main sponsor, Diamond Corrugated recently committing for another three years, Mr O’Doherty handed the club another major boost by claiming he was ‘not going anywhere’ despite plans to further expand his own successful business.
“I’m not going anywhere,” he declared. “The only issue I have is that I travel probably about 75 per cent of my time but I’m here for the foreseeable future.
“I’ve got three factories around the world and we’re looking at other locations around the world. But no matter where I am, I’m going to be there for Derry City.
“Dodie (McGuinness) is doing a great job running the office and Declan doesn’t need looking after. I don’t try to micro manage any of these guys, they all do their jobs.
“We meet once every two or three weeks. He (Declan) can email me or ring me anytime but in terms of face to face meetings, it’s about every two or three weeks.”
And City boss, Devine, was delighted to receive his chairman’s financial backing as he looks to build on his squad, claiming there wouldn’t be a Derry City Football Club without Mr O’Doherty’s significant investment.
“The budget is key, absolutely, but at the same time Shamrock Rovers probably had one of the biggest budgets in the league last year, they won the FAI Cup and they continue to get better.
“Of course, as a manager, you want a few extra pound to spend but we’ve got to strive both on and off the pitch to get this place better.
“When you have the backing of a chairman who loves the place, that’s key to the whole process. In my opinion there wouldn’t be a Derry City Football Club without Philip O’Doherty because of his business sense and his investment over the years has been invaluable.
“He rescued the club when it went out of business. He’s not just a guy who is throwing money at the football club, he’s a man who cares for the city. He cares for the people in the city. He’s a very proud Derry man and if we all took a leaf out of Philip O’Doherty’s book we’d be in a very good place.
“He cares and backs it up. He invests in people and structures and employs a lot of people in the city. I, for one, hold him in the highest esteem for what he does for the people of Derry and for the football club. It should never be taken for granted.”