THE first formal offer to take over cash-strapped Darlington Football Club was under consideration last night - but rival bidders are seeking more time to draw up rescue packages.

Mystery businessman Ted Forster faxed an offer to the Quakers' administrators yesterday morning, despite the true scale of the club's debts still remaining a mystery.

The consortium of local businessmen linked to a buyout deal also confirmed that it would be making a definite bid, but wanted extra time to put it together.

Today is the provisional deadline for bids to be made, but administrators from Sheffield-based Wilson Field said they would listen to later offers from other interested parties.

The Northern Echo is aware of another serious potential bidder, but has agreed not to name the party at this stage.

Mr Forster fired the first shot in the battle to gain control of the Quakers yesterday, saying of his bid: "Let's just say I think it's the front-running one."

The 53-year-old is known to be a devoted Darlington fan.

The Northern Echo understands the bid is to pay off creditors at 80p in the pound and involves hiring the stadium from George Reynolds.

Administrator David Field said: "It does require further information from both sides. We haven't got any proof of funding to show that he can actually fulfil the offer he has made. It is normal for all our work to be done before bids are made, but I can understand why it's been done."

The consortium is waiting for the extra details to be provided, particularly regarding former chairman Mr Reynolds' claim that he is the largest unsecured creditor, owed £19.6m.

Administrators hope to verify the validity of the claim by the end of next week.