Darlington FC has bright future - despite recent cash crisis, fans are told (From The Northern Echo)
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Darlington FC has bright future - despite recent cash crisis, fans are told
DARLINGTON FC has a bright future as a fan-owned club after administration for a fourth time was narrowly avoided, a packed room of fans was told tonight (Tuesday, March 12).
New chief executive Martin Jesper said the club had faced a fresh cash crisis in recent weeks - but it had been resolved with a £50,000 cash injection.
However, he admitted the club - which now plays at Bishop Auckland FC's Heritage Park ground - still has debts of £100,000 and does not have the money to pay for a new home back in Darlington.
Supporters were also told that maintaining large home attendances was crucial to the club's survival.
About 200 people attended the fans' forum at Darlington Rugby Club's Blackwell Meadows ground.
Mr Jesper told them: "The absolute truth is that the club has run out of money after just ten months and urgent action has been needed to ensure its survival.
"Had appropriate action not been taken in the last couple of weeks, there is every likelihood that an administrator would have been standing here in my place.
"It seems that the club has been trying to run before it could walk."
Fans were told the it had cost £365,000 to buy the club, but only £252,000 had been raised through the community interest company (CIC) and by the purchase of shares in the club.
The club still had debts of £100,000, mostly to pay off former players, and had missed its first budget since the takeover by £84,000.
It also emerged tonight (Tuesday, March 12) that the CIC had debts of its own of £30,000 from the purchase of the temporary stand built at Heritage Park which still has no roof.
Mr Jesper revealed that a lack of financial awareness among the previous interim board meant the club had almost run out of money.
Asked by fans who had been responsible for handing the money, he said it had been the collective responsibility of the board.
However, he said new financial controls had been put in place and he was confident the club was sustainable.
Mr Jesper told fans the ultimate aim was to make the club self-sufficient without the need to regularly ask the CIC for money.
Martin Jesper during last night's meeting at Darlington Rugby Club's ground
The £50,000 from the supporters club, supporters trust and individual fans would ensure the club was secure until at least the end of the season, Mr Jesper added.
Ian Wilkinson, from the CIC, told supporters Darlington 1883 would be run like a business that was answerable to the CIC.
"If someone doesn't step up they will be sacked - it's as simple as that," he added.
Mr Jesper added: "Despite (the difficulties) these are extremely exciting times for Darlington FC as a fan-owned football club run through a not-for-profit CIC.
"There are no other clubs in the English leagues set up in this way."