TALKS over the future of Darlington Football Club will reach a key stage today as the administrator attempts to finalise bids.

Cheshire-based businessman Paul Wildes continues to be seen as the front-runner and says he is "more excited than ever" about a possible deal after attending Saturday's match against York City at The Northern Echo Arena.

Mr Wildes told The Northern Echo immediately after the game that he had enjoyed "a brilliant day" and had been impressed by what he had seen.

"It shows that the stadium can work and I really believe I can make it work with the right marketing decisions," he said.

Mr Wildes is expected to hold further talks today with administrator Harvey Madden, Darlington MP Jenny Chapman and former Darlington chairman Raj Singh.

Mr Wildes has given Mr Singh an undertaking not to develop the site for non-football activities for five years. He has also said he would like to involve supporters by giving them a 40 per cent stake in the club in return for a £200,000 investment.

If today's talks go well, it is possible the club could be brought out of administration as early as tomorrow, which is seen as deadline day for formal offers to be lodged.

However, a separate interest by a Yorkshire-based company, hoping to invest in a leisure development, including a snow dome, on the Neasham Road site remains "very much alive".

The Northern Echo understands that talks have also been taking place with rugby union club Newcastle Falcons about a possible move to the Darlington Arena and council officials remain keen to see how realistic that prospect may be.

A crowd of 6,413 attended Saturday's thrilling match which ended in a 2-2 draw for Craig Liddle's makeshift side.

The 1,500 York City fans held up a banner at the beginning of the match which read: “Football United” in a show of solidarity with their Darlington counterparts.

Mrs Chapman, who watched the match from the directors’ box, said: “It was an amazing atmosphere. It’s a positive sign of things to come.”

Doug Embleton, from Darlington Football Club Rescue Group, said: “We will continue to encourage fans to raise money for the club, so that the fans get the biggest stake in the club as possible.

“We are thankful to the people for their support but now it’s time for the businesses of the town to get behind the club.”

The remarkable story of how Darlington survived almost being liquidated earlier this month has proved popular around the world.

A camera crew from a Norwegian television channel attended Saturday’s game to report on the club’s struggle to survive, which has made the news in Scandinavia.

Mr Embleton said: “The story seems to have touched the hearts and minds of the football community around the world.”