No players - but sacked Liddle carries on

The Northern Echo: WHAT NOW? Darlington coach Craig Liddle was yesterday made redundant by the club’s administrators – but he will be on the training ground with his youth team this afternoon in the hope Saturday's game with Fleetwood will still go ahead WHAT NOW? Darlington coach Craig Liddle was yesterday made redundant by the club’s administrators – but he will be on the training ground with his youth team this afternoon in the hope Saturday's game with Fleetwood will still go ahead

CRAIG LIDDLE will attempt to lead Darlington's youth team through training this afternoon, despite wondering if he will be employed by his beloved club again after having his contract terminated yesterday.

Liddle is determined to fight on in hope rather than expectation, holding out for the news that an agreement has been reached which will see the 129-year-old club avoid the plunge into liquidation.

And despite the fact he received a letter informing him that his contract was being terminated with immediate effect, the former Quakers captain is trying to believe a favourable outcome can be reached.

He is aware of the talks that are due to take place this morning between administrator Harvey Madden and potential investors, which could yet prove the lifeline that the ailing club is looking for.

"I will turn up for training, in the hope it works," said Liddle last night. "It's come as a huge bombshell. To lose your job is just surreal.

"What we were told is that the administrator is not in a position to adopt our contracts. He has had to terminate the contracts of all the players.

"I'm led to believe he has to find a buyer within the next 12 hours or so or the club, Darlington Football Club, will cease to exist as we know it. It is deeply, deeply sad for all of us who have a connection with the club."

As well as Liddle, players - Paul Arnison, Graeme Lee, Aaron Brown, Adam Rundle, Ryan Bowman, Phil Gray, James Gray and John McReady - all received similar redundancy letters from the administrator.

The letter read: "I regret to advise you that the company is no longer in a position to make payment to you for services rendered.

"As a result your contract of employment with the company is terminated with immediate effect."

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After turning up for training at Houghall College, Durham, yesterday morning, Liddle and his players were asked to attend a meeting with the administrator at 1.30pm.

It was then when they learned the news, although they were also given indications the development did not necessarily signal the end of the club.

The youth team are partially funded by the PFA, so their wages are covered to a certain extent.

"All the lads are absolutely gutted," said Arnison, 34, who is now the club's longest serving player. "I was totally shocked. Even with everything that has been going on, there was this sudden realisation of the situation.

"I still think there might be a chance we could survive, that we could get our jobs back in the squad.

"We just have to keep hoping there will be a takeover concluded. But to be out of a job at this stage, to know that your contract has been terminated, is just awful."

The key thing at this stage is for the administrator to reach a quick agreement with the potential investors, who are not known at this stage.

There were talks between the Darlington Football Club Rescue Group and potential investors yesterday, discussing the possibility of an eco-friendly residential development on the site of The Northern Echo Arena, which appears to be crucial in the attempts to save the stricken Blue Square Bet Premier club.

If an agreement can be reached quickly, Darlington will then have to do some swift talking with the Football Conference, the Football Association and the Professional Footballers' Association ahead of Saturday's scheduled visit of title-chasing Fleetwood Town.

Darlington have no manager or any first team players on their books as of last night and a source close to the league said there would be 'muddy waters' to emerge from if Darlington were to play this weekend.

But, with so many hypothetical questions being raised while talks are ongoing to try to secure the club's future, neither the FA nor Conference chiefs were prepared to comment on specifics.

Liddle, who is due to meet the administrator again on Thursday along with the players who have lost their jobs, is trying to remain optimistic. He has refused to rule out the possibility of making a playing return himself, five years after he was forced into retirement due to injury.

He said: "I don't know what it will mean for the weekend even if a buyer is found.

"We would hope the players would be re-registered, I don't know. If we weren't allowed to do that then it would mean going into the game with a team full of youth team players."

Speaking on Radio 5 Live last night, Liddle described the stadium size as ''ridiculous'' and revealed water and gas bills are each around £5,000 per month.

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