Bright future for Darlington FC's former stadium

 

THE chairman of a rugby club has spoken of "exciting times" ahead following a deal which paves the way for it to take over Darlington FC's former 25,000 seater stadium.

Mowden Park Rugby Club first announced its plans to take over the £15m Northern Echo Arena in September, but the deal hinged on it being able to buy 17 acres of adjoining land from Darlington Borough Council.

The council’s cabinet agreed to the land sale - understood to be worth £350,000 - to allow the rugby club to create training pitches.

In a separate deal, Mowden is in the process of buying the Northern Echo Arena from businessmen Philip Scott and Graham Sizer and work on bringing the dormant  stadium back to life is expected to begin soon.

John Widdall, chairman of Mowden Park Rugby Club said: “We will start work on getting the stadium up to use straight away.

“The stadium deal has been agreed, we are buying the stadium, buying the land and hopefully they (the contracts) are being signed on the same day.

“These are very exciting times, a lot of people are raring to go and get started.

“It has come at an exciting time for the rugby club, we are doing well in the league; it is a happy ship at Mowden at the moment.”

Mr Widdall said that the rugby club is also in talks with outside parties to ensure the financial viability of using the stadium and has been given the option by Darlington council to buy a further 25 acres of land as the club develops.

“As far as the first team goes, we are not dependent on crowds, we can make the arena and ground pay for itself, we have various business and commercial deals to make sure that it pays for itself,” said Mr Widdall.

Darlington Council leader Bill Dixon said the land was always intended for sports use and says its sale “represents the best future” for the stadium.

“It is excellent news, it is the best result we could have possibly got,” he said.

“If it had not have been this, the future of the stadium would have remained in doubt; this removes the doubt.”

Developer Bellway Homes plans to build 67 houses on Mowden Park Rugby Club's current ground, at Yiewsley Drive.

Comments (17)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

says...

says...

says...

says...

7:52pm Wed 7 Nov 12

darlo fan says...

I hope they get to make ago of it. The greedy council will want a big piece of what ever the make.if the council had let the football club put concerts on we would not be where we are.they were just asking for to much of the prophets
Good luck Darlington rugby club.
I hope they get to make ago of it. The greedy council will want a big piece of what ever the make.if the council had let the football club put concerts on we would not be where we are.they were just asking for to much of the prophets Good luck Darlington rugby club. darlo fan

8:31pm Wed 7 Nov 12

alanquakersman@mail.com says...

typical of this arsehole council that refused everything Darlington FC wanted to do up there, but now cant do enough to help, these clowns are an absolute bunch of pratts, just wait till the elections when they want my vote the first one up my path better be wearing swimwear...........
typical of this arsehole council that refused everything Darlington FC wanted to do up there, but now cant do enough to help, these clowns are an absolute bunch of pratts, just wait till the elections when they want my vote the first one up my path better be wearing swimwear........... alanquakersman@mail.com

7:43am Thu 8 Nov 12

MST1975 says...

Good on Mowden, hope it works out for them.

Sounds like they want to run it as a business, rather than a charity like the football club did.
Good on Mowden, hope it works out for them. Sounds like they want to run it as a business, rather than a charity like the football club did. MST1975

9:16am Thu 8 Nov 12

judygone says...

The council gave DFC permission to put 1 concert on a month. It was the owners of our football club that would not take the risk of putting concerts on. The council are being blamed for things OUR club would not do.
The council gave DFC permission to put 1 concert on a month. It was the owners of our football club that would not take the risk of putting concerts on. The council are being blamed for things OUR club would not do. judygone

10:32am Thu 8 Nov 12

Whoknowswhat says...

As I said yesterday I think there was a lot of misinformation came from the previous occupiers of the stadium, I again ask what were they refused that the rugby is now allowed?, I personally think they were given exactly the same assistance and opportunities but didn't want them because they contradicted the negative propoganda and scuppered their other plans which were not exactly in the best interests of the football club.
But that is all behind us now lets wish the rugby club all the best and perhaps support them in their efforts by going and watching a game or two..
As I said yesterday I think there was a lot of misinformation came from the previous occupiers of the stadium, I again ask what were they refused that the rugby is now allowed?, I personally think they were given exactly the same assistance and opportunities but didn't want them because they contradicted the negative propoganda and scuppered their other plans which were not exactly in the best interests of the football club. But that is all behind us now lets wish the rugby club all the best and perhaps support them in their efforts by going and watching a game or two.. Whoknowswhat

12:09pm Thu 8 Nov 12

doonhamer says...

MST1975 wrote:
Good on Mowden, hope it works out for them.

Sounds like they want to run it as a business, rather than a charity like the football club did.
Not quite sure about your train of thought. I agree, good luck to Mowden and I sincerely wish them well and when all the pitches etc are in situ, I could see the club challenging for the Premiership with wonderful facilities behind them. Quite how you think the Football Club was/is a charity, puzzles me. The Arena was far too big a stadium for a club with our fan base. Without going over old ground, we should never have vacated Feethams. What's done is done, we are happy at Bishops at this moment in time and hope to return to Darlington in the near future. The club is fan run, we are self sufficient, we don't look for handouts and we don't look for charity. We certainly don't give back handers to Councillors (not that anyone else would do so of course) and we tend not to slag off other sporting clubs, of which most of us, have little or no interest in. I would therefore be grateful if you could clarify the point to which you allude that, "they want to run it as a business, rather than a charity like the football club did". Given the financial outlays and losses of former Chairman/Owners of DFC like Messers Reynolds, Houghton and Singh, I think that they would be most interested in knowing to which charity you refer. Or, like others who castigate Darlo FC, does the verbal vitriol eminate from the wrng orifice in your torso ?
[quote][p][bold]MST1975[/bold] wrote: Good on Mowden, hope it works out for them. Sounds like they want to run it as a business, rather than a charity like the football club did.[/p][/quote]Not quite sure about your train of thought. I agree, good luck to Mowden and I sincerely wish them well and when all the pitches etc are in situ, I could see the club challenging for the Premiership with wonderful facilities behind them. Quite how you think the Football Club was/is a charity, puzzles me. The Arena was far too big a stadium for a club with our fan base. Without going over old ground, we should never have vacated Feethams. What's done is done, we are happy at Bishops at this moment in time and hope to return to Darlington in the near future. The club is fan run, we are self sufficient, we don't look for handouts and we don't look for charity. We certainly don't give back handers to Councillors (not that anyone else would do so of course) and we tend not to slag off other sporting clubs, of which most of us, have little or no interest in. I would therefore be grateful if you could clarify the point to which you allude that, "they want to run it as a business, rather than a charity like the football club did". Given the financial outlays and losses of former Chairman/Owners of DFC like Messers Reynolds, Houghton and Singh, I think that they would be most interested in knowing to which charity you refer. Or, like others who castigate Darlo FC, does the verbal vitriol eminate from the wrng orifice in your torso ? doonhamer

12:11pm Thu 8 Nov 12

doonhamer says...

Oops, wrng should be wrong, my mistook
Oops, wrng should be wrong, my mistook doonhamer

1:47pm Thu 8 Nov 12

Mowmember says...

darlo fan wrote:
I hope they get to make ago of it. The greedy council will want a big piece of what ever the make.if the council had let the football club put concerts on we would not be where we are.they were just asking for to much of the prophets
Good luck Darlington rugby club.
Wish it was Darlington and not Mowden then I would be able to laugh and not cry instead
[quote][p][bold]darlo fan[/bold] wrote: I hope they get to make ago of it. The greedy council will want a big piece of what ever the make.if the council had let the football club put concerts on we would not be where we are.they were just asking for to much of the prophets Good luck Darlington rugby club.[/p][/quote]Wish it was Darlington and not Mowden then I would be able to laugh and not cry instead Mowmember

1:47pm Thu 8 Nov 12

Mowmember says...

darlo fan wrote:
I hope they get to make ago of it. The greedy council will want a big piece of what ever the make.if the council had let the football club put concerts on we would not be where we are.they were just asking for to much of the prophets
Good luck Darlington rugby club.
Wish it was Darlington and not Mowden then I would be able to laugh and not cry instead
[quote][p][bold]darlo fan[/bold] wrote: I hope they get to make ago of it. The greedy council will want a big piece of what ever the make.if the council had let the football club put concerts on we would not be where we are.they were just asking for to much of the prophets Good luck Darlington rugby club.[/p][/quote]Wish it was Darlington and not Mowden then I would be able to laugh and not cry instead Mowmember

1:49pm Thu 8 Nov 12

Lawman3 says...

"We can make the Arena and ground pay for itself". Now where have I heard that before?
"We can make the Arena and ground pay for itself". Now where have I heard that before? Lawman3

4:14pm Thu 8 Nov 12

MST1975 says...

Run as a charity. Taking money from former chairpersons, that the club could not ever repay. Taking money that can not be repaid in my eyes is charity.

It's said that the club (mowden) does not rely on gate receipts to cover its costs. So it's over heads are covered by other business related activities. Same could not be said about the football club.

Whether you believe the former (or soon to be former) owners blocked concerts etc, could have had a hand in the down fall but, would you pour money into a venture that would/could not repay you , I think not.

At the end of day former owners of the club had no interest in development of sport facilities and only in "business" development for there own benifits.

As for darlington football club coming back to the town, can't see that unless they have come to agreement with the rugby club to use the stadium they all hate so much.
Run as a charity. Taking money from former chairpersons, that the club could not ever repay. Taking money that can not be repaid in my eyes is charity. It's said that the club (mowden) does not rely on gate receipts to cover its costs. So it's over heads are covered by other business related activities. Same could not be said about the football club. Whether you believe the former (or soon to be former) owners blocked concerts etc, could have had a hand in the down fall but, would you pour money into a venture that would/could not repay you , I think not. At the end of day former owners of the club had no interest in development of sport facilities and only in "business" development for there own benifits. As for darlington football club coming back to the town, can't see that unless they have come to agreement with the rugby club to use the stadium they all hate so much. MST1975

5:34pm Thu 8 Nov 12

doonhamer says...

MST1975 wrote:
Run as a charity. Taking money from former chairpersons, that the club could not ever repay. Taking money that can not be repaid in my eyes is charity.

It's said that the club (mowden) does not rely on gate receipts to cover its costs. So it's over heads are covered by other business related activities. Same could not be said about the football club.

Whether you believe the former (or soon to be former) owners blocked concerts etc, could have had a hand in the down fall but, would you pour money into a venture that would/could not repay you , I think not.

At the end of day former owners of the club had no interest in development of sport facilities and only in "business" development for there own benifits.

As for darlington football club coming back to the town, can't see that unless they have come to agreement with the rugby club to use the stadium they all hate so much.
OK, thanks for your response and I'm glad you give a reasonable point of view. However, I must stress that football and rugby clubs are totally different animals. Rugby clubs have members, wives, sons, daughters etc all become involved. It's a social thing and a way of life for many. The football 'family' meets on a match day, the game is paramount and winning is what it's all about. The two never have and never will, mix. Darlington will never go back to the Arena, but they have to return to Darlington. We are winning games at the moment and crowds are healthy, but even the most fanatical of us knows that this will not go on forever. Promotion to a higher level brings it's own pitfalls and a 'average' side playing out of town would naturally attract smaller crowds. This happened at Neasham Road, which to most fans is out of town, especially if you live at Harrowgate Hill or Piercebridge etc. Football is now a business, Chairman/Owners rarely put money in requiring no return (Jack Walker at Blackburn was a noteable exception) most want their money, plus what they think they are owed. Look at Portsmouth, Heart of Midlothian, Rushden and Diamonds, Kettering Town and Third Lanark for example. None are/were Charitable organisations, all have/were being fleeced (allegedly) by owners/chairman. None of these 'clubs' were obligated to repay anything to anyone. They all thought saviours had came to help their clubs out of a passion either for the individual club or indeed the game. This will not happen in rugby union and it's sad that it's reared it's head in soccer but at no time did any officials of the aforementioned clubs agree to repay chairman/owners, because they themselves never controlled the purse strings and therefore could never be accused of taking money that they could not repay. Consequently, I still refute your claim that Darlington FC and the word 'charity' have anything in common, and any individuals pouring money into the venture/club should not just have been looking for a quick return on their investment, which as you readily point out, most do.
[quote][p][bold]MST1975[/bold] wrote: Run as a charity. Taking money from former chairpersons, that the club could not ever repay. Taking money that can not be repaid in my eyes is charity. It's said that the club (mowden) does not rely on gate receipts to cover its costs. So it's over heads are covered by other business related activities. Same could not be said about the football club. Whether you believe the former (or soon to be former) owners blocked concerts etc, could have had a hand in the down fall but, would you pour money into a venture that would/could not repay you , I think not. At the end of day former owners of the club had no interest in development of sport facilities and only in "business" development for there own benifits. As for darlington football club coming back to the town, can't see that unless they have come to agreement with the rugby club to use the stadium they all hate so much.[/p][/quote]OK, thanks for your response and I'm glad you give a reasonable point of view. However, I must stress that football and rugby clubs are totally different animals. Rugby clubs have members, wives, sons, daughters etc all become involved. It's a social thing and a way of life for many. The football 'family' meets on a match day, the game is paramount and winning is what it's all about. The two never have and never will, mix. Darlington will never go back to the Arena, but they have to return to Darlington. We are winning games at the moment and crowds are healthy, but even the most fanatical of us knows that this will not go on forever. Promotion to a higher level brings it's own pitfalls and a 'average' side playing out of town would naturally attract smaller crowds. This happened at Neasham Road, which to most fans is out of town, especially if you live at Harrowgate Hill or Piercebridge etc. Football is now a business, Chairman/Owners rarely put money in requiring no return (Jack Walker at Blackburn was a noteable exception) most want their money, plus what they think they are owed. Look at Portsmouth, Heart of Midlothian, Rushden and Diamonds, Kettering Town and Third Lanark for example. None are/were Charitable organisations, all have/were being fleeced (allegedly) by owners/chairman. None of these 'clubs' were obligated to repay anything to anyone. They all thought saviours had came to help their clubs out of a passion either for the individual club or indeed the game. This will not happen in rugby union and it's sad that it's reared it's head in soccer but at no time did any officials of the aforementioned clubs agree to repay chairman/owners, because they themselves never controlled the purse strings and therefore could never be accused of taking money that they could not repay. Consequently, I still refute your claim that Darlington FC and the word 'charity' have anything in common, and any individuals pouring money into the venture/club should not just have been looking for a quick return on their investment, which as you readily point out, most do. doonhamer

10:58am Sat 10 Nov 12

limboland says...

Good luck to Mowden but i rather think it will last about two years before the reality kicks in for them ! I really dont think they have thought it through properly

As for DFC -- i hope they do not get sucked into the mire that Mowden are presently creating

And as for Darlington Council --i have said it before -and repeat --there should be a Public Enquiry into all the dealings/underhand dealings that led to the whole sorry saga of the Arena
Good luck to Mowden but i rather think it will last about two years before the reality kicks in for them ! I really dont think they have thought it through properly As for DFC -- i hope they do not get sucked into the mire that Mowden are presently creating And as for Darlington Council --i have said it before -and repeat --there should be a Public Enquiry into all the dealings/underhand dealings that led to the whole sorry saga of the Arena limboland

Comments are closed on this article.

click2find

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree