DARLINGTON FC's groundshare with Darlington RFC is unlikely to take place before Christmas, officials at both clubs say.

A planning application for alterations to the rugby club's Blackwell Meadows ground is yet to be finished, although it is hoped the documents can be submitted to the council next month.

Officials say the plans are currently being tweaked to ensure that improvements to the site are "right first time".

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Football club chief executive Martin Jesper said that submitting the planning application was key.

He said: "It's obviously not just down to the football club. The planning application is dictated by all the different parties having to deliver. We may have more of an idea in three or four weeks.

"We've not got a date for the move yet but it's unlikely to be before Christmas."

Mr Jesper said all parties were working hard towards the groundshare arrangement, adding: "Everybody involved wants us to get back to Darlington as quickly as possible."

Darlington FC will start the season at Bishop Auckland FC's Heritage Park but hope to move back home during the season.

Talks on the groundshare took place between the rugby, football and council on Tuesday (August 5).

Michael Stowe, Darlington RFC commercial director, said he hoped the planning application could be finished in September.

"On both sides there's a lot of effort to make sure we get it right first time.

"We don't want to rush it. The first time the football club plays a competitive game at Blackwell Meadows we want everything to be perfect.

"We want to make sure the facilities are right for Darlington FC and for the other sports we want to bring in."

The clubs are in talks with Sport England and other organisations about funding towards the improvements.

Last month the club released artist's impressions of the remodelled ground showing new terracing behind one goal and a stand with seating along the side of the pitch furthest from the clubhouse.

The images also reveal a redesigned clubhouse with an entrance facing the car park and a glass front overlooking the pitch.

As part of the improvements, the main pitch will be dug up and returfed.