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19 May 2022

Tierney: Football clubs frustrated by lack of progress on Phase 2 of Sub Stadia funding

Redevelopment of Derry City's Brandywell Stadium and help for Institute FC to find new home, five years after flooding destroyed Riverside ground, still remains in limbo

Derry council calls for Phase 2 Brandywell stadium development

The new Brandywell stand after it was completed in 2018. However, Phase Two of the stadium's redevelopment has yet to proceed.

SDLP Foyle candidate, Brian Tierney, has spoken of the frustration felt by the city's two football clubs – Derry City and Institute – over the ongoing delays regarding access to the Regional Sub Stadia funding.

Phase 2 of the funding had been earmarked for delivery when the Executive resumed back at Stormont two years ago.

However, Derry City and Institute have yet to receive funding – a far cry from 2016 when then-Joint First Minister and Foyle MLA, the late Martin McGuinness, said that he could “guarantee millions of pounds” for the future development of Derry City's Brandywell Stadium.

In response to a Freedom of Information request put by The Derry News, the Department of Communities replied by stating: “The Department does not hold any information in relation to funding ‘guaranteed’ for the Brandywell Stadium.”

The Department went on to say that “no funding has been agreed by the Department specifically for the Brandywell Stadium.”

Derry City & Strabane District Council, who own the Brandywell Stadium would have re-apply for Phase 2 funding with the Department of Communities going on to state: “Refreshed proposals for the allocation of funding under the Sub-Regional Stadia Programme for Soccer have been developed. These proposals will need to be presented to the Executive for endorsement.

“When the Programme opens for applications, Derry City and Strabane District Council will have the opportunity to apply for funding for the Brandywell Stadium along with other clubs/soccer facility owners across the region.”

Cllr Tierney, who is also the elected SDLP representative for the Ballyarnett ward on the Council, said: “What I know about the Regional Sub Stadia funding is that whenever it does open – if indeed it does open – it will be a competitive process and clubs and owners of grounds, like Derry City and Strabane District Council, will have to apply to receive that funding.

“I remember the quote (from Martin McGuinness) but, moving on from that quote, that's what the process is and it's one that the Council are working towards. I'm not going to get into criticising someone who has unfortunately passed away.

“(The delay) is frustrating from everybody and its frustrating for Derry City Football Club. It's frustrating for Institute and clubs right across the North.

Cllr Brian Tierney who is one of three SDLP candidates for Foyle in next month's Assembly Election

“This programme has been sitting on the desk of the Department of Communities and the Minister (Deirdre Hargey) for two years since the reformation of the Executive at Stormont.

“From what I can see, very little progress has been made from them up to now.”

With regards to Institute FC's quest to find a new stadium to call home after flooding destroyed their old Riverside base, the Department of Communities stated: “There is currently no funding in place, from the Department, to help Institute FC find a site for a new stadium. Plans in relation to the future of Institute FC are not the responsibility of the Department.”

Responding to that, Cllr Tierney said: “With Institute, I suppose that's the Department's line. But if you're asking me if that's the right line, then technically it is.

“But Institute, and I think everybody was aware – including the Minister, were hoping that this fund would open so that they could apply.

“Institute obviously, and very suddenly through no fault of their own, lost their home ground and their plans were put under this application.

“It is having an impact on clubs right across the North who find themselves in this position like Derry City Football Club and particularly Institute Football Club.”

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