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Institute name Brandywell as home ground for Irish League return

By Adam McKendry

Irish League football could be coming to the Brandywell after newly promoted Institute registered it as their home ground for next season.

With 'Stute's regular home ground, the Riverside Stadium, still out of action due to the damage caused by flooding last year, the Championship winners were required to submit a temporary home to the Northern Ireland Football League (NIFL) by the end of today.

And the club did so by naming the Brandywell, the home of SSE Airtricity Premier League side Derry City, as their home venue for the upcoming season.

With the two leagues' calendars overlapping only briefly, it means the 7,000 capacity stadium is free for the majority of the season and will provide a ground in the local vicinity, with state of the art facilities for Institute's return to the top tier of Northern Irish football.

While NIFL still have to sign off on the venue - which it is likely they will - all the signs are positive that this season will mark the first time an Irish League game will be staged at the Brandywell since 1971 when Derry City faced Ballymena United.

"We have spoken to council representatives, MLA representatives, the PSNI, local community groups, NIFL and all interested parties. Derry City FC are right behind us; the Derry & District League are behind us; everybody that is involved with football in the city are behind the idea,” Institute chairman Bill Anderson said.

Despite the temporary move, Institute's long-term plan is, of course, to look for a permanent home of their own away from the Riverside site.

"We are still looking for an appropriate site so we can relocate in order to secure the future of the club for the next 100 years because at the Riverside Stadium we are on the fourth highest floodplain in Northern Ireland," Anderson admitted.

"It was unbelievable what Paddy (McLaughlin) and the boys did last season. Everything that was thrown in front of them, they just kept going and if we are able to get things sorted in terms of relocating to the Brandywell, I feel that will be a brilliant reward for the players, the club and the whole city."

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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