DARLINGTON'S hopes of a successful appeal against their demotion to the Northern League have been dashed by confirmation from the Football Association that Shildon's ground is unable to host matches at a higher level.

And in another blow to the embattled Quakers, the FA have also revealed it is "very likely" the club will have to change its name as it is regarded as a new entity by English football's governing body.

After 129 years of history, Darlington Football Club is effectively no more. In the eyes of the FA, the club is no longer a member of English football's governing body, and has to re-register with Durham FA under a new guise.

Members of Darlington FC 1883 (DFC 1883), the group that bought the club at the start of the month, were meeting last night to discuss the situation, but one of their members, Craig McKenna, has spelled out his disappointment at the FA's comments.

"The worst-case scenario is that we are a club in the Northern League and we have to change our name," said McKenna.

"If that happens, we will come back bigger and stronger, but we have major issues with what the FA are saying and feel the need to challenge them on a number of points."

Last Friday, Darlington were demoted to the First Division of the Northern League by FA officials, who were unhappy with the way the club exited administration. At the weekend, DFC 1883 outlined their intention to appeal against the FA's ruling.

They had hoped to convince the FA that former chairman Raj Singh had agreed to unconditionally hand over the licence, known as the football share, that enables Darlington to play competitive matches next season.

However, even if they are able to persuade the FA that Singh has relinquished control of the share without any strings attached, their appeal looks doomed to failure because of their ground-sharing arrangement with Shildon.

Having concluded it was not financially viable to continue playing at The Northern Echo Arena, DFC 1883 signed a contract to play next season's matches at Shildon's Dean Street stadium.

The FA grades every ground in the country, and sets minimum requirements to host matches at a variety of levels.

Shildon's ground only meets the criteria for matches at step five of the football pyramid - the Northern League - and while there have been suggestions that funds could eventually be available for improvements, the FA have based their decision on their current rating.

An FA spokesman said: "Darlington presented a plan to The FA that they would be ground sharing with Shildon for the duration of the 2012-13 season. Shildon's ground is graded at Step Five level only."

DFC 1883 have taken issue with this comment, as they claim the subject of Shildon's ground was never raised in their meetings with FA officials.

McKenna said: "At no stage did the FA say that playing at Shildon would be a barrier to playing at a level higher than the Northern League.

"Even when we had a meeting down at Wembley, it was never suggested that playing at Shildon would be a problem.

"We had to have a ground-share arrangement in place before we could apply to the FA. Of the options that were available to us in the time scale, Shildon was the best available."

The FA have also confirmed that Darlington are effectively being treated as a 'new club' because they were unable to agree a CVA with their creditors before exiting administration and were unable to conduct an acceptable transference of the football share.

The spokesman said: "The original Darlington FC are no longer members of the Football Conference and, under the regulations of the National League System, are now a 'new club'.

"As such, they are only allowed to make an application to join a league/division at Step Five."

Given that they are being treated as a new club, Darlington will almost certainly have to change their name before the start of next season.

They are unable to carry over the old club's name, and all the history that goes with it, and must instead adopt a new moniker such as Darlington United or Darlington Town.

The spokesman added: "It is very likely that the 'new club' will not be allowed to carry the name Darlington FC. This is a matter to be discussed with their County Football Association, Durham FA.

"As it stands, the 'new club' are not yet affiliated to Durham FA and have been advised to do so at the earliest opportunity by The Football Association."

McKenna responded: "We are not a new club or a Phoenix club. We have taken over the previous debt and have pledged to ensure the payment of the players. In hindsight, it now looks like we would be better off as a Phoenix club, but that is not the position we wanted to put ourselves in."

Northern League chairman Mike Amos will meet Darlington officials on Wednesday to discuss the logistics of the club's new status, and claims that in light of yesterday's FA clarification, the club can consider itself fortunate not to have dropped any lower.

Amos said: "I don't mean any offence by this, but if the FA are treating Darlington as a 'new club', they can count themselves lucky to be in the Northern League.

"As a new club, they could have been in the Teesside League. I know the club's supporters will not want to hear this at the minute, but we are ready to welcome them with open arms and I'm sure they will enjoy being in the Northern League. But they will not find it easy." The Northern League are due to release next season's fixture list this weekend.