DARLINGTON FC has teamed up with the three biggest clubs in the region to tempt their fans into watching the Quakers in action.
Middlesbrough, Sunderland and Newcastle United football clubs are all supporting an initiative to enable their season ticket holders to buy cheaper tickets to Darlington’s home league games.
They will make a £3 saving on the usual £9 ticket price for the 2014/15 season in a move that Darlington FC hopes will help boost attendances.
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Dave Mills, the club's development director, explained the reasons behind the offer.
He said: “The question that the CEO has asked of the fans is 'where are the 10,000 fans that went to Wembley just three-years-ago to see the winning of the FA Trophy?'.
“The answer to this is crucial to building a fan-owned club back in the heart of the town and community.
“Whilst impressive in non-league football, the average crowd last season represented ten per cent of the potential that the club has proved it can attract.
“We are aware that our larger, elite footballing neighbours have vast numbers of fans based around Darlington, County Durham and Teesside who are proud to say they come from Darlington, but who chose to follow the larger teams in the area.
“We totally respect that, and this initiative is all about asking the local season ticket holders of those larger clubs to come to have another look at their home club as it is now, when their own first choice of club is playing away games outside the immediate area.”
Martin Gray, Darlington FC manager, added: “The players thrive on playing in front of larger crowds and this initiative is a fantastic way to ask all lovers of football from the Darlington and surrounding areas to get behind their home town club as much as possible.”
Darlington currently play in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League, Division One North - tier eight of the football pyramid.
Both Sunderland and Newcastle play in the Premier League, where ticket prices average around £20 for season ticket holders but can cost upwards of £30 if bought on the day.
Middlesbrough compete in the Championship, where ticket prices can still reach £33 on the day for the most desirable seats.
Mark Ellis, chief operating officer for Middlesbrough FC, welcomed the Darlington initiative and said the club was always keen to build strong relationships with local clubs.
Gary Hutchinson, commercial director at Sunderland AFC, said the club was “delighted” to continue strengthening links with Darlington, while Dale Aitchison, head of partnerships at Newcastle United, applauded Darlington for their generous offer.
Darlington currently play their home matches at Heritage Park, Bishop Auckland, but plans are being finalised to return to the town through a ground-sharing partnership with Darlington RFC at Blackwell Meadows.