SDLP adviser Brian Tierney says the team are halfway through an overhaul of their Brandywell home, but the club will now have to ‘go back to the drawing board’ as the expected cash won’t come. will materialize more.
Exceptionally, Derry City FC play in the Republic of Ireland’s FAI league, not the Irish League where the overwhelming majority of clubs in the province compete.
This means that the problems caused by the discontinuation of the Sports Grant do not just stop at the Northern Ireland border, but will affect fans across the island whose clubs face Derry.
Sinn Fein Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey announced this week that she was not going to push ahead with a £36.2m scheme to redevelop ‘sub-regional’ football grounds (i.e. i.e. on a small scale) due to the lack of a functional executive.
Ms Hargey blamed the DUP, saying the party’s decision to remove Paul Givan from his role as prime minister forced the fund to freeze.
The DUP however stressed that the redevelopment of GAA’s Casement Park in west Belfast should still continue under the leadership of Minister Hargey.
She told reporters on Wednesday that the very idea that there was some sort of sectarian motive behind her decisions is a “false fallacy.”
Councilor Tierney – a longtime Derry City fan who is standing for MP in the next election – explained that the local council had footed the bill for the first phase of the Brandwell revamp (which would have cost somewhere in the area of £7m, and turned the grass pitch into a 4G pitch).
He said that since at least 2016 it was understood that the money for phase two (which he said had not yet been 100% costed) would come from the stadium fund.
This would mean major work on at least two of the spectator stands, bringing the site up to European standards.
“For Derry fans, it’s almost like we’ve been ripped off,” he said.
“I don’t know where we’re going to get the money for phase two of Brandywell.
“For us as a council we have to go back to the drawing board to see if we can fund it.
“We were pinning our hopes on the complete redevelopment of the Brandywell to come in phase two with this fund. Without it, I don’t know where we can find the money.
“It’s a big disappointment for the city of Derry.”
He said the city’s other big club, Institute (based on the Waterside), also hoped to benefit from the fund.
A spokesman for the Department for Communities said: “The Minister has made it clear that the £36.2million to regenerate stadiums is earmarked. The Minister is absolutely committed to delivering this…
“It is well known that options for the future of the sub-regional stadium program require executive approval. The collapse of the executive prevents the regeneration of local stadiums.
She also met with Irish League officials today ‘to take this project to the next stage’.
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