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'No rush' to decide future of former Darlington Football Club ground
DARLINGTON FC’s former home could be indefinitely mothballed after its owners said there was “no rush” to make a decision on its future.
The Quakers will play their home games at Bishop Auckland’s Heritage Park ground next season, but have not ruled out the possibility of returning to the 25,000-seat Northern Echo Darlington Arena, on the outskirts of town.
Denis Pinnegar, chairman of community company Darlington FC 1883 (DFC1883), which took over the club last month, said it had approached businessmen Philip Scott and Graham Sizer, who own the arena, about potentially leasing the stadium back on a game-bygame basis in the future.
Mr Pinnegar said the door was only “slightly ajar” on the possibility of a return to the arena.
He said: “They [Scott and Sizer] acknowledged our potential interest, but we have heard nothing since.
“We are all about building our future and if we hear anything, we will consider it along with other options.”
A statement released by the owners said: “There is no rush to make decisions about the future of the arena and the surrounding land.
“We are content to wait for the market and the economy to pick up and have not put a timescale on reaching a conclusion.
“Clearly, Darlington Borough Council will have an interest in helping us to achieve a positive outcome and we will work closely with the local authority to assess and review opportunities that may arise.”
Meanwhile, members of the DFC1883 board will travel to Wembley on Thursday, when the club’s appeal against its demotion to the Northern League will be heard.
Mr Pinnegar said board members were “optimistic”
there would be a positive outcome, but added that the Quakers would be playing at Bishop Auckland next season regardless of the Football Association’s (FA) decision.
He said: “We are not building up our expectations, but we go there with a strong case and will do our best to argue that Darlington FC should be at a higher level.”
Darlington MP Jenny Chapman has written to FA chairman David Bernstein, highlighting the club’s cause.
She wrote: “The town is rallying behind a communityowned club that has the legal protection enshrined in its constitution, to make sure that never again will the town lose its football club to the ambitions of individuals.”
Mr Pinnegar said any decision may not be made public immediately after Thursday’s meeting, with a period of FA deliberation likely.
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