AS the deadline approaches to save Darlington Football Club from liquidation, three potential investors are in the running to buy the club, The Northern Echo understands.

A Yorkshire-based consortium interested in putting an indoor snow centre on the site of the club’s stadium is due to hold talks with council officials today, and Sheffield venture capitalist Paul Wildes last night repeated that he remains in the running.

However, the Echo understands that a third serious potential investor is also in the running.

Hopes are growing among fans that one investor will agree a deal before the club’s money runs out on Monday.

In the meantime, supporters are being urged to help the club by raising money and buying tickets for tomorrow’s game against York City.

Sheffield businessman Paul Wildes, who has a background in hospitality, is proposing to invest £300,000 in the club, with fans contributing a further £200,000 in return for a 40 per cent share.

He believes he has concluded a deal with the stadium’s landowners, Philip Scott and Graham Sizer, to rent it for 13 years. For the first three years, rent will be a peppercorn £10,000, after which it will rise.

He has an option to buy the stadium at any time for £2.1m.

However, he has yet to conclude a deal with former chairman Raj Singh concerning the large amount of money he has put into the club.

“I have still not resolved the issue with Mr Singh and the business is not viable if that stays in place as a loan,” said Mr Wildes. “My solicitor is still instructed to conclude the deal and I am hopeful that when the dust settles, within the timeframe, Mr Singh will come back to the table.”

A crucial part of his plan is to involve fans, giving them representation on the board and helping recreate the feeling of a community club.

The continuing interest of the other two potential bidders means it is still too early to say which – if any – bid will prove successful, which is why supporters are being urged to attend tomorrow’s match.

About 1,000 tickets had been sold last night. Jason Lees, Darlington FC general manager, is hopeful the crowd will exceed the Fleetwood attendance of 5,638.

He said: “I think ticket sales are slightly ahead of where we were last week. York will hopefully bring between 1,000 and 2,500. If they do that we should definitely be over 6,000.

“We won’t be able to postpone the game this time – if people don’t arrive early they will miss kick off,” he said.

Among those attending will be ten students from Woodham Community Technology College, near Newton Aycliffe.

The pupils are receiving free pairs of family tickets in return for their hard work and good behaviour.

Assistant headteacher Jon Tait said: “This is a wonderful opportunity for us to reward some of our hardest working students.”

North Yorkshire Police said a number of Darlington FC fundraisers in the Northallerton area were advised to stop collecting after it emerged they did not have permission from Hambleton Borough Council.

A spokesman said: “We believe they were genuine fundraisers, but had not realised they needed paperwork from the council’s licensing department.

We don’t want people who are not collecting for a cause to jump on the bandwagon.”