Derry line up Barça friendly

Derry City FC have pulled off a coup by arranging a summer friendly against FC Barcelona.

Hume rule
The Spanish club will visit Derry's Brandywell stadium in July after Derry politician John Hume used his influence to persuade Barcelona to bring a team to Ireland in the summer. Hume, a member of the European Parliament, was in Barcelona last weekend to receive the freedom of the city and while there sealed a promise from Barça president Joan Gaspart.

Freedom of Barcelona
"I was told I would receive the freedom of Barcelona and I immediately worked on getting their team to Derry," said Hume, who managed to bring Real Madrid CF to his hometown for a fund-raising friendly in 2001 when financial problems almost forced Derry out of football.

European campaign
Last October, Derry won the FAI Cup, beating Shamrock Rovers FC in the final, and manager Kevin Mahon will use the Barcelona friendly to warm up for the UEFA Cup campaign in August. "We could have held the game next week against an under-strength side but Barça wanted to play in July so they can send a full-strength team," said Derry chairman Jim Roddy.