EFFORTS to return Darlington Football Club to its home town and secure its financial future have reached a fundraising milestone.

The club has been exiled in Bishop Auckland following a fans’ takeover in 2012.

Ambitious plans to share facilities with Darlington Rugby Club were announced last year, with a fundraising shares scheme launched in December.

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Fans are being offered the chance to buy further shares in the club in an effort to raise an initial £50,000 to secure its financial future.

Already, more than £26,000 has been pledged.

The investment model is managed by Glasgow-based crowd-funding company Squareknot.

Further £50,000 milestones - up to a maximum of £150,000 – would, if pursued, help meet running costs and support the ‘Back to Darlo’ project.

Quakers chief executive Martin Jesper said a decision on whether to push on towards the £100,000 and £150,000 milestones would be taken after February 17.

Some 2.5 per cent of donations received over £100,000 and five per cent over £150,000 will be donated to St Teresa’s Hospice.

Mr Jesper said: “The funds raised are being put towards specific goals and therefore there is enormous transparency for the fans to understand how their money will be used– ensuring that the return to Darlington and progression through the leagues are built from a robust financial platform and managed in a controlled and affordable manner.”

Directors say the first £50,000 will be used to pay off debts incurred from buying the club from the administrators in 2012.

The next £50,000 would be used to provide ‘adequate cash headroom’ to meet running costs until the end of this season.

Any funds received in excess of £100,000 will be combined with those raised through the Back to Darlo campaign to help the club re-establish itself in the borough.

For details of how to invest, visit squareknot.co.uk/pitches