A new Darlington FC stadium is not likely to open until 2026 following “frustrating” delays which have set the plans back. 

The ambition to leave Blackwell Meadows and relocate to a purpose-built site remains one of the club’s top priorities but requires detailed planning and significant investment. 

Club officials confirmed while the delays have hampered timescales, recent progress has been made with further details on the scheme expected in 2024. 

The Quakers have identified the Skerningham and Faverdale areas as potential locations for the new stadium, which could include additional sports, retail and hospitality facilities. The new site, which will allow capacity of between 5,000 and 8,000 fans, was initially planned to be built in time for the 2024-25 season.

In a progress update, managing director David Johnston admitted the delays are frustrating.

He said: “I thought we were making some headroom last year and it’s slowed down a bit, but I am pleased to say in the last eight weeks we have started to spend money on getting our plans pulled together around this. 

“So far, we’ve spent £6,000 to engage the services of an architect and a developer. That is being funded by the supporters’ group board.”

While physical construction work is yet to start, plans are being drawn up with both sites still in mind. Land purchases, a public consultation and planning applications are due to take place next year, with 2026 identified as the most appropriate opening date. 

“For the first time we’ve seen on paper what it would look like and we are now moving forward to get feedback from the developer and the council,” added Mr Johnston. 

“We have a preferred site but who knows what happens. We can’t close off anything around this, we’ve got to keep our options open.

“It’s moving, but it is slow and it’s extremely frustrating because every year that that goes on it creates more financial pressure on the football club to compete in an ever-increasing cost environment of the national league north."

The Northern Echo: Managing director, David Johnston with Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen Managing director, David Johnston with Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen (Image: Sarah Caldecott)

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The new stadium is also set to include training facilities which will be rented out to clubs, schools and the community to help provide a sustainable and regular income stream for the Quakers, which became fan-owned in 2012.

Similar stadiums throughout the National League including AFC Fylde and Boston United’s have been identified as inspiration.

And amid times of rising interest rates and inflationary pressures, club officials hope it can be resolved quickly. 

Mr Johnston said: “The sooner it can come through the better, the longer it goes on the harder it gets to get out of this league."