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Will development pressure push Darlo under?

Football News 24/7
Darlington FC has been in administration since the beginning of the month after its owner, Raj Singh, decided he could no longer keep covering its running costs. Unless someone emerges in the next few days who is prepared to invest a sum of between £300,000 and £500,000 to keep the club running until the end of the season there are genuine fears that the club will cease to exist by the date of its next match with Fleetwood on January 21.

The liklihood of the fixture being postponed moved a step closer anyway when the administrator made all but five staff redundant last week, which makes running a game harder in terms of safety requirements.

But as the various parties discuss the options it was clear from fans forums and the local media that there is a genuine belief that the site is ripe for retail development. There might be a covenant that states that the land can only be used for football purposes and if the site is sold for anything else, 75 per cent of any increase in the value of the land would go to the council.

The stadium owners, Philip Scott and Graham Sizer, and Darlington Borough Council said issued a statement following a meeting to discuss the various options.

The statement said: “One option discussed was whether the existing stadium could be demolished and replaced with a smaller ground which was more economical for the club to run.

“However, to meet the cost of this, there would need to be significant capital gained from developing the site.

“It was agreed that the only commercially viable option would be to develop a large superstore or retail development on the site. However, this would be against local and national planning policy and would be highly unlikely to get planning permission. A large-scale development of this nature and in this location would have a negative impact on trade in the town centre.

“The removal or retention of the covenant on the land was not seen as an issue as there was no viable development discussed which would increase the value of the land.

“Nevertheless, the council and the landowners are continuing to have dialogue with any interested parties to see what possibilities there may be.”

It is believed the stadium owners have offered to provide £50k to keep the club afloat if that sum is matched by the Supporters Trust. If that is not feasible there is every chance the club could go out of business if another buyer isn't found and soon.

An empty stadium will be a hinderance not an asset to the local community and if the worst happens you can bet the developers will return - covenant or not.

KT

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