Is Darlington FC’s demise drawing near?
After 129 years of history Saturday’s emotional 2-2 encounter between Darlington and York could yet prove to be the farewell match for the Darlington club.
Funding raised by the DFC Rescue Group had given the club a ten-day reprieve from liquidation but only guaranteed the club’s existence until the game on Saturday.
Currently the club remains in administration for the third time in nine years as further talks progress to find a long-term solution to save Darlington FC.
Reports suggest that an offer from local businessman Paul Wildes is the most likely option to save the club.
But hopes of an agreement also rest on chairman and major creditor Raj Singh.
The bid from Wildes, thought to be around £300,000 would also require a further £200,000 to come from the Darlington FC Rescue Group, but this would also give supporters a 40 per cent share of the club.
Ambitious clubs spending beyond their means has been commonplace throughout English football in the last decade but in Darlington FC it’s even easier to wonder how a club can have got things quite so wrong.
An attendance of 11,600 to the opening match at the stadium in 2003 remains a record for the 25,000-seater Northern Echo Arena.
Hopes of a revival have grown following an emotive reaction of the local community and bumper crowds over the last two weekends.
Outside interest in the clubs plight has also been remarkable with even camera crew from a Norwegian television channel in attendance on Saturday.
At 6,413 the latest crowd was ten times the season low and evidence of the support the club has found in the local community.
The atmosphere on Saturday told much about the importance of the club to the local community, even for those who don’t regularly attend.
Goals from Adam Rundle and John McReady earned interim manager Craig Liddle’s side a spirited point against play-off chasing York and will serve as a morale boost for the fans fighting hard to save the club.
Remarkably, the club remain above the relegation places despite being docked 10 points for entering administration.
However, with a squad including only nine first team players, after the whole squad was sacked prior to the rescue package being put in place, Craig Liddle faces a tough struggle to keep his side up.
This will be a task he will be only too happy to take on if he, along with the fans, is again allowed to have football matters as the main concern.
As far as experiencing north-east culture goes attending a football match is about as authentic as it gets.
Durham University students yet to have this experience should maybe think about hopping one stop on the train to Darlington while the chance there remains.
You’ll be guaranteed a seat and they’ll be glad to have you.