DARLINGTON Football Club has been granted an 11th hour stay of execution after administrators agreed to hold talks with a mystery investor.

Fans feared the club would be liquidated this weekend without giving either Darlington Football Club Rescue Group or the unknown investor sufficient time to draw up a credible rescue package.

However, administrator Harvey Madden yesterday agreed to delay ending the Quakers’ 129-year history to allow more negotiations to take place on Monday.

The announcement follows meetings yesterday between Mr Madden and Darlington Football Club Rescue Group and other interested parties.

According to sources, the potential mystery investor, who cannot be in Darlington until Monday, will discuss plans with the Rescue Group this weekend.

It is also understood negotiations are under way to unlock the potential of the Neasham Road stadium if the club can be saved.

Last night, the Rescue Group, led by local businessmen and fans, heaped further pressure on Darlington Supporters’ Trust by urging it to use £50,000 raised during the club’s 2004 administration to extend its present administration to January 31.

The Northern Echo revealed on Monday that the club’s landlords, Philip Scott and Graham Sizer, would invest £50,000 if the Supporters’ Trust matched that amount.

That would allow the club – which requires a cash injection of up to £80,000 a month – to continue until the end of January and allow moneyspinning matches against Fleetwood Town and York City to be played.

It would also allow more valuable time to come up with a rescue package.

A statement issued last night by Darlington Football Club Rescue Group said: “Funds were secured by the Group to make an offer to the administrator to extend the period of administration to 31 January.

“For reasons which cannot be disclosed, these funds are inappropriate for this particular purpose.

“In this last minute of extra time for the football club…..the Group is asking The Darlington Supporters’ Trust to allocate for this same purpose of extending the period of administration to 31 January the £50,000 which was originally raised by supporters in 2004 for this selfsame purpose – that is, to save Darlington FC.

“The Group is optimistic that an offer based upon this £50,000, if placed by Monday 10.30am, will be acceptable.”

No one from the Supporters’ Trust could be reached for comment last night.

Despite the temporary reprieve, fans were dismayed yesterday at the departure of club captain Jamie Chandler and Liam Hatch, who joined Gateshead.

However, there was better news from caretaker manager Craig Liddle, who said he would come out of retirement to play against Fleetwood next week, if necessary.

The temporary reprieve was earlier welcomed by Claire Stone, secretary of Darlington Supporters’ Trust.

She said members were still involved in talks behind the scenes, adding: “It would be fantastic news if someone could come in and take it over – that would be ideal.”

Scott Thornberry, who runs the Darlo Uncovered website, also welcomed the further talks, but added: “I hope we aren’t just seeing the club enduring a slow and painful death.”

Darlington MP Jenny Chapman, who was involved in discussions all day yesterday, said: “Talks are continuing and we will not give up until it’s over.”

A statement issued by Mr Madden’s Yarm accountants, Taylor Rowlands, said: “Talks are continuing to be held between the joint administrator and potential investors over the future of Darlington Football Club.”

A spokeswoman for the Football Conference said the home game against Fleetwood was still due to take place next Saturday.

Adam Pearson, owner of Hull FC rugby league club, yesterday dismissed rumours that he had tabled a bid for the club.

Fans will hold a bucket collection outside the Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough, tomorrow.

A collection in Newton Aycliffe raised £228.