DARLINGTON FC has cleared its debts, increased turnover and has £300,000 in the bank ready for the club's return home.

But fans have been told more money will be needed to ensure the Quakers remain sustainable and successful.

The club's annual review, directors' report and financial statements have been sent to shareholders today ahead of the annual general meeting next month

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They reveal:

  • Total revenue has increased by 18 per cent from £289,600 last year to £341,600
  • Operational activity (after exceptional items) has delivered a loss of £800 this year, compared with a £175,500 profit last year
  • Outstanding debt has been totally eliminated - from £58,200 at June 2014 to nil at June 2015
  • There are no arrears with any creditors at the year end (including HMRC)
  • Cash at bank amounted to £299,500 at June 2015, including £288,600 held for the return to Darlington

However, despite the club's new financial stability. chief executive Martin Jesper, who will stand down at the AGM, stressed that there was still much work to do, if the volunteer-run club was to continue to grow and progress through the league structure.

Mr Jesper said there was still too few people approaching the board offering their skills and services.

He added: "Typical suggestions of ‘what you should be doing …’ and ‘who you should be talking to is …’ are well intended, but we need doers at the club, particularly as the board’s own capacity as volunteers remains limited."

Mr Jesper added that fans would have to continue funding the club if they wanted it to be a success.

"The fans, and those responsible for representing their views, must continue to dig deep and work even harder to build a lasting legacy.

"As other fan owned football models have shown, proactive fan interaction is the key to achieving that stability and consistency without having to revert to benefactor dependency."

He added that it was "abundantly clear" that the club’s ambition to progress back through the leagues could only be achieved if money was invested in the club's infrastructure off the field - not just into the playing and coaching staff.

"We need to continue to rebuild the club for the long term, not just build a team for short-term success. Without such off-field investment the club risks stagnation or disengagement by its battle-weary fans.

"Once again, the future of the club lies in the hands of the fans.

"As custodians of the fans’ monies, your board of directors will continue to operate in the long-term interest of the Club within the financial resources available."

The football club is hoping to move back to Darlington and has been in discussions with Darlington RFC about a groundshare at the rugby club's Blackwell Meadows.

The football club had hoped to move back for the start of the current season, however negotiations over are still continuing and the club will stay at Bishop Auckland FC's Heritage Park for the time being.

On the issue of the move back to Darlington, Mr Jesper said plans and timescales had been agreed with Darlington RFC and it was "extremely disappointing" when key milestones were missed from April onwards.

He added: "In July 2015, DRFC appointed a new management Board and further discussions were required to bring those new individuals up to speed with 2 years’ worth of commercial discussions, designs, legal and practical considerations in respect of bringing a semi-professional football club into their volunteer run organisation."

Mr Jesper said as a result of the delays the money raised through the sale of advance season tickets was placed in an escrow account which means it is reserved for use only on the return to Darlington plans.

Manager Martin Gray said in the report that "phenomenal" progress had been made since the fan takeover in 2012.

However, he added: "We have now started the season in the Premier Division, and have already discovered that the standard of this division is higher than the division we have just left.

"Opposing teams are more organised and fitter than most of those in the division that we have just left, and matches are more difficult to win.

"We are now aiming to win promotion again from the Evo-Stik Premier to the National League North and I can assure you that I, my staff and the playing squad will do their very level best to achieve that.”