THE new owners of Darlington FC have started drawing up plans for the club’s future – with the aim of being back in the Football League within three years.

Darlington FC 1883 (DFC 1883) confirmed yesterday it had proved too expensive to stay in the Darlington Arena, with the annual costs calculated to be £270,000.

Instead, DFC 1883 has begun talks with clubs in south Durham about a season-long groundshare.

They include Bishop Auckland, Shildon and West Auckland, although it is understood others are being considered.

Chairman Denis Pinnegar confirmed yesterday that the club aimed to return to Darlington within a year, adding that it was likely most of the players would be part-time next season.

He said: “Our aim is to be back within the Football League within three years.

“We are working very hard in this regard to get back into the town within 12 months.

We are cautiously optimistic.

“We are in negotiations with a number of venues for next season and that decision will have to be taken within the next five to seven days.”

Talks have already taken place with Darlington Borough Council and Darlington Rugby Club about developing a joint ground and sports facilities at Blackwell Meadows, in Grange Road, Darlington.

Craig McKenna, from The Growth Academy, which has managed the purchase, said: “When I first got involved, this was about buying Darlington for the fans and it has been a project that has proved to be significantly harder than any one of us could ever have imagined.

“It is fantastic news that the deal has been concluded and the focus now moves from ‘buy Darlo’ to ‘return to Darlo’.”

Caretaker manager Craig Liddle has already said he does not want to be manager next season.

Mr Pinnegar said the club had been approached by several people interested in the manager’s job.

The club will now apply for a football playing licence from the Football Association, with the previous licence remaining with former chairman Raj Singh.

Administrator Harvey Madden yesterday confirmed that the new club would receive half of any money generated from clauses in the contract of former Quakers defender Dan Burn, who was sold to Fulham.