AFTER months of pain and uncertainty, Darlington Football Club has been bought by its fans and is looking forward to a new beginning.
Community company Darlington FC 1883 Ltd (DFC 1883) yesterday agreed a deal with administrator Harvey Madden to purchase the club’s assets.
The deal went through without a company voluntary arrangement in place, meaning creditors, including former chairman Raj Singh, are unlikely to get their money back.
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The club could also face further sanction from the Football Association (FA).
However, DFC 1883 last night pledged to do all it could to help local businesses who lost out when the club was placed in administration.
Denis Pinnegar, interim chairman of DFC 1883, is also hopeful that the FA will look favourably on the club and not demote it below the Evo-Stik Division Premier North – two divisions below its current position.
Mr Pinnegar last night paid tribute to the fans, DFC 1883 board members, players, administrator and manager Craig Liddle for keeping the club alive after it was placed in administration in January.
He added: “This is a big day for Darlington.
“We have created a club that will be run for the benefit and entertainment of the community.
“Any money that is made will be reinvested in the community.”
Mr Madden said he was “delighted and elated” that a deal had been signed for fans to take over the club.
He added: “My hope is that DFC 1883 can get going, get promoted fairly quickly and can get back to Darlington as soon as possible.”
The new owners have the support of caretaker manager Craig Liddle, who has agreed to sit down and discuss his own future with DFC 1883.
He said: “I’m chuffed to bits.
“We now have a football club that is run by people who are in it for the right reasons – that is for the football club to be secure and move forward, and not for any financial gain.”
DFC 1883’s purchase of the club without a CVA and its plans to play away from the arena are radically different to the plan outlined in January when a shares issue was announced.
It has prompted the community company to begin the process of returning about £325,000 to fans who bought shares through the Crowdcube funding system.
However, supporters will be urged to reinvest their money in the new proposal, with DFC 1883 saying it needs at least £200,000 by July.
It is understood Darlington Uncovered fans forum and Darlington FC Supporters’ Club will reinvest their money. The Northern Echo confirmed it will also reinvest its £10,000 as long as the DFC 1883 plans remained credible.
DFC 1883 said on Wednesday morning that it was ready to submit its offer for the club.
However, complications emerged later in the day that prevented the purchase.
The complications surrounded the players’ wages and the 25 per cent of their salaries they have not been paid since the club was placed in administration. DFC 1883 learnt on Wednesday it would become liable for the unpaid wages once it took over.
In order for the purchase of the club to go ahead, members of DFC 1883, with help from Craig Liddle, contacted all players asking them to agree to temporarily waive the money they are owed – about £100,000.
All agreed on condition they will receive their money later.