DARLINGTON have linked up with Newcastle, Middlesbrough and Sunderland to offer season ticket holders of those clubs the chance to watch the Quakers at reduced prices this season.
Seaton ticket holders at the North-East’s big three can watch the Evo-Stik Division One North side for £6.
The club currently plays its home matches at Heritage Park, Bishop Auckland but aims to be back in Darlington, after striking a deal to play at Blackwell Meadows, home of Darlington RFC.
Dave Mills, Quakers' development director, said: “The CEO has asked of the fans "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. 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.”
Manager Martin Gray added: “This team is filled with talented, local players - all of whom have paid jobs outside of our club - this is grass roots football that so many people can identify with and relate to - honest and highly competitive.’’
Gary Hutchinson, commercial director at Sunderland, said: “We have developed close links with Darlington FC in recent months, which culminated in the pre-season friendly at Heritage Park and we are delighted to be continuing to work with the club and directors..”
Mark Ellis, chief operating officer at Boro, said: “We are always keen to build strong relationships with our local clubs and are delighted to give Season Card holders the chance to watch Darlington at concessionary prices as part of their package.”
And Dale Aitchison, head of partnerships at Newcastle, said: “The North-East is rightly famed for its love of football so we applaud Darlington for their generous offer which will make their matches accessible for even more fans across the region. We wish the club every success over the coming season and beyond.”
Quakers’ chief executive officer Martin Jesper explained: “The board is fully aware that the general perception of the vlub outside its hard core fan base is one that is embroiled with legacies surrounding previous owners, financial uncertainty and the Arena.
“Whilst we continue to learn from the lessons of our recent past, we must move forward and we aim to demonstrate to the wider fan base and local businesses that by embedding Darlington Football Club within the hearts and minds of the town and community, this journey back to town is one that should be shared and enjoyed by so many.”
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