“WE’RE not boycotting, we just can’t afford it’. That is the retort from Derry City fans after Chairman Phillip O’Doherty publicly asked fans to support rather than boycott this week’s Europa League clash with Dinamo Minsk at the Brandywell.
European football comes to the new Brandywell for the first time on Thursday with the visit of Belarusian side Dinamo Minsk but the build up to the game has taken the focus off the game itself with Derry City being accused of losing touch with its fan base after charging £25 for adult tickets and £20 for concession tickets for the game.
In the past few weeks the club have reduced the concession tickets to £10, but anger remains over the pricing strategy of the club, prompting Chairman O’Doherty to release a statement on Friday morning as well as take part in an interview with Radio Foyle, in which he defended the pricing, insisting that it was a necessary step to help the club stand on its own two feet financially.
He said: “For the last number of years our outgoings have outstripped our income by a considerable amount. The money generated from European competition, from sponsors and the sale of some of players to English clubs has helped, but at the end of each financial year I have had to fill that gap.
“That is neither a healthy nor a sustainable long term solution.
“The bottom line is that Derry City must become financially independent sometime in the next few years.
“Negativity and boycott is the one sure way to kill the club.
“I hope we can get the turnout during the remainder of the season that confirms that our supporters are committed to the same cause.”
However, the Chairman’s words have not placated a section of the fans, who are determined to stand their ground, insisting that Mr. O’Doherty has missed the point completely. Shareholder Barry Tierney says therein lays the problem.
He explained: “The important thing is that a lot of supporters cannot afford to go to this game. It’s not that they are boycotting. If they wanted to boycott, Derry lost 8 out of 11 games; they had every opportunity to boycott on Friday night. They are not boycotting, they are fully behind the team, a lot of people just can’t afford to go to this game.”
Tierney also called on the club to meet with fans to address concerns as soon as possible.
The fans have been calling for a supporters’ forum for months and it’s not just around the accounts because we know how heavily reliant we are on Philip O’Doherty,” he continued. “We are so appreciative of what Philip O’Doherty does. We know that there would be no Derry City, or at least a very poor Derry City without Phil O’Doherty. He goes above and beyond what would be expected of any man in this town, so Phil doesn’t get any of my criticism about balancing the books, but I just wish that he would realise that if you speculate to accumulate you lower the price and bring more people through.”
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