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Darlington football and rugby clubs finalise plans for groundshare
A DRIVE to bring the Quakers back to Darlington is gathering pace with plans for a groundshare due to be submitted within weeks.
A planning application is being finalised which if approved would allow changes to be made to the Blackwell Meadows site, owned by Darlington Rugby Football Club.
The alterations would ensure the ground meets FA standards and would be suitable for use by both the rugby and football clubs.
Martin Jesper, football club chief executive, said: “This is a fan-owned football club and without their loyal and unstinting support, the club wouldn’t be here now.
“I know everyone wants the club to return to its home after two years in exile. We are committed to returning as soon as possible and are working extremely well with our colleagues at the rugby club.”
The two clubs have already signed a memorandum of understanding.
The document sets out the terms of future discussions on the practicalities of a ground share at Blackwell Meadows, off Grange Road.
The ultimate aim is to create a community sports hub at the site.
Tony Stowe, secretary of Darlington RFC, added: “We’ve had a vision to turn this corner of Darlington into a community sports hub.
“Adding the football club to the rugby union and league and amateur football we already have will means it continues to develop.”
The groundshare has the backing of Darlington Borough Council, which would help with planning and car parking arrangements.
Darlington MP Jenny Chapman is also supporting the proposal.
She said: “The fact is the rugby club and football club have a shared vision and everyone is working hard to help and put in place strong governance that will safeguard the future of sport in the town.”
The football club has been urging fans to support the move back to Darlington with a major fundraising drive.
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