Derry's return to the Brandywell delayed

2018-02-09 04:35:28

Derry City's return to the Brandywell has been delayed as renovations to the ground will not be completed in time for the first game of the season with Sligo Rovers.

City were due to take on Sligo on Friday, 23 February, their second match of the season, and first at home.

But work on the ground is still ongoing and there is even no guarantee they will be able to take on Dundalk in the venue on 2 March.

Sligo have agreed to switch the fixture with Derry which will see them host the Candystripes, and play the match at the Brandywell in August instead.

A statement from Derry read: "The club had expected to move into the new facility last November. That slipped to the end of December and the last update has necessitated the rearranging of the game against Sligo on the 23 February.

"That game will now be played in Sligo and the away game to Sligo later in the season will take place at the Brandywell. The club is very grateful to Sligo Rovers for their understanding and help in this situation.

"These delays have been most frustrating for the club. They have interrupted pre-season plans to acquaint our players to the new surface and they have stalled an extensive programme of events to introduce residents, fans, sponsors and new potential supporters to the new facilities.

"Despite this, we remind ourselves and our supporters that we have waited long years for this new development and these few weeks will be put behind us as we continue to work to ensure that we can be proud of the Brandywell experience."

City are relying on the local council to finish work but the final steps of the project have been slow to finish, with poor conditions and the delayed arrival of some materials.

Further delays could see the Dundalk game switched to Oriel Park but Derry hope to be in place for that fixture.

Sligo now face three home games to begin their season as a result of the switch, and a run of six away games out of seven in the summer, including a period of one home league game in 10 weeks.

Bit O'Red chairman Martin Heraghty said: "Facing Derry on a Friday and Cork City on a Monday means a lot of cost for our fans over one weekend. These are two big matches.

"We also now face a period of one home league game in 10 weeks from July to September. We had a similar period last year and it caused significant problems financially, although there could be some FAI Cup games in the period depending on our progress.

"But due to the circumstances, it was something we felt we had to agree to. We will plan, we will do our best and we will also use the quickfire run of home games to bring excitement to The Showgrounds.

"The season is upon us and we have a feast of football to look forward to in a short space of time. We will try to use the opening stage of it to our advantage."

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