DAVID HODGSON claims Darlington are at a crossroads that could threaten their very existence, and has urged the club’s shareholders to support Raj Singh’s attempts to buy his way back into the Quakers.

Singh has pledged to invest £40,000 into Darlington, and is hoping to acquire a 15 per cent stake in the club, with the potential for his shareholding to increase further in the future.

The move is a hugely controversial one, with the Teesside-based businessman having overseen Darlington’s plunge into administration in 2012, and requires 75 per cent of the club’s current shareholders to vote for the proposal at an emergency EGM, which is due to be held later this month.

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Hodgson is regarded as one of Darlington’s most popular figureheads, and while he understands the reservations about Singh’s sudden re-emergence, he feels the former chairman should be given a clean slate.

“I’ve known about this for a while now, because Martin (Gray) came to see me before the fans’ forum when it was first being mentioned as a possibility,” said Hodgson. “He explained to me what was on the table, and I said, ‘Martin – you have to go along with this’.

“To me, it’s the only way to safeguard the future of the club and keep things moving forward. There’s been so much progress in the last few years, but things can’t remain as they are.

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“I hear people saying, ‘Maybe we should take a step back and try to stand still for a couple of years’, but if you stand still in football, you’re immediately in trouble.

“Darlington desperately need investment, and at the moment, Raj Singh’s offer is the only one on the table. For that reason, I think the club definitely has to take it.

“With new money coming in, Darlington can plan for the future and try to get out of this league and back into the Conference. Then from there, it’s only a small step back into the Football League. If the money is turned down, things will only go one way. If wrong moves are made now, Darlington could easily become another Scarborough.”

Singh is due to provide clarification about his ambitions and motives before the weekend, having previously rejected the terms of a Creditors’ Voluntary Agreement that might have prevented Darlington’s demotion to the Northern League.

The former chairman also withheld Darlington’s football share, forcing the Football Association to insist on a name change, but Hodgson feels this is not to time to dwell on previous errors.

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The three-time Quakers boss has personal experience of letting bygones be bygones, having agreed to work under another controversial former chairman, George Reynolds, even though the pair had fallen out spectacularly.

“Sometimes, you just have to accept the football club is bigger than any one person,” he said. “It’s bigger than David Hodgson, George Reynolds, Marco Gabbiadini or whoever else was around at the time.

“I know Raj Singh has a history within the football club, but exactly the same was true of George Reynolds when I agreed to come back.

“When I left Darlington, George Reynolds moved heaven and earth to try to destroy me, but I still came back to manage the club when he was there.

“People were telling me I must be mad, but to me, it was simple. The football club needed me, and I wanted to help out. The same is true of this situation. The football club is in a position where it needs someone to support it, and Raj Singh is the only person who has come forward.”

Singh’s £40,000 investment would be used to strengthen the playing squad, with Martin Gray’s side having finished fifth in National League North this season, only to be denied a place in the play-offs because of a failure to meet FA ground regulations.

Winning promotion in 12 months’ time will be even more of a challenge with the likes of York City, Salford City and a newly full-time Harrogate Town set to provide competition, and Hodgson fears Gray could be tempted to walk away if his support for Singh is not reciprocated.

“This could mean the end of Martin Gray, and in my view, that would be a complete disaster for the club,” said Hodgson. “Martin has done a magnificent job in the last few years, but I think he realises he can only go so far under the current model.

“If he goes, then all the good work that has been carried out over the last few years goes with him. As a fan, and someone who continues to care passionately about the club, I’d be horrified if that happened.”