DARLINGTON Football Club was thrown a potential lifeline last night when its landlords offered to invest in the cash-strapped club.

Philip Scott and Graham Sizer’s £50,000 offer is conditional on Darlington FC Supporters Trust matching it by investing the money that was raised by fans and townspeople when the club was in administration in 2003.

The businessmen, whose company Darlington Arena Limited owns The Northern Echo Arena, will also enter talks with the local council’s senior officers today over relaxing the planning constraints on the stadium site.

Quakers caretaker manager Craig Liddle is also due to take part in the discussion in a bid to stop the final whistle being blown on the club’s 128 years history.

With the future hanging by a thread, more than 1,000 fans headed to Barrow on Saturday to see what was feared could be the Quakers’ final game.

The players travelled on a coach paid for by The Northern Echo, and shared £8,000 that has been raised by fans.

Many players have not been paid for more than a month.

They used tape on their shirts to cover sponsors Lakeside, a company owned by former chairman Raj Singh.

They were defeated 3-0.

Mr Singh placed the club in administration last Tuesday.

It requires a cash injection of about £80,000 a month to keep it running, and the administrator has warned that this week may be the last.

A spokesman for Mr Scott and Mr Sizer said last night that the pair did not want to be football investors, other than their offer of reduced rent for the Quakers.

But he said: “At this tipping point in the club’s history, Darlington Arena Limited is willing, as a gesture of goodwill to the club, to match up to £50,000 – a sum of money that the Darlington Supporters’ Trust has – to give the administrators more time to save the club, providing an agreement is reached with all the relevant stakeholders.”

The businessmen are owed more than £2m following a loan to previous chairman George Houghton. They hope to relax the covenants on the site, which the council imposed when it sold the land cheaply to another previous chairman, George Reynolds, before he built the 25,000- seater stadium.

Their spokesman added: “They are reviewing all their options. They are looking forward to proper and lengthy discussions with the council.”

Relaxing the covenants might enable the pair to sell or redevelop the stadium. A share of the proceeds would go to the council, and could finance a more viable stadium for the Quakers.

Council leader Bill Dixon said last night that the authority could waive all or part of the covenant on the land – but only if it is in the best interests of the club and town.

He said: “In the long term, the authority can offer a viable future. The covenant was there to stop people making themselves profits. We are looking to relax it, but it has to be for the right scheme and, hopefully, give long-term viability for the football club.”

By offering £50,000, the landlords are effectively buying time for negotiations.

The supporters’ trust banked £50,000 in 2003 at the end of the Reynolds era through events and bucket collections.

In a statement last night, Darlington Supporters’ Trust said it had not been contacted by Mr Scott or Mr Sizer regarding the club.

It added: “We are fully supportive of saving the football club, but we fully believe any plan must include a long-term business plan, not just one that takes us to the end of the current season.

“Until such time that the interested parties contact us directly, we cannot make any further comment.”

The administrator, Harvey Madden, of Yarm firm of accountants Rowlands, says the club will face liquidation on or after January 17 if there is no new investment.