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Mowden Park RFC set to buy Northern Echo Arena
12:10am Friday 7th September 2012 in News
A NORTH-EAST rugby club last night made the shock announcement that they have agreed to buy the former home of Darlington Football Club.
Darlington Mowden Park RFC published a statement on its website confirming a deal has been reached to purchase the 25,000-seater Northern Echo Arena.
The rugby club has been looking to move from its ground in Yiewsley Drive since the late 1990s and developer Bellway Homes has permission to build 67 houses on the land.
It had been thought that a 20- acre site in West Park would be the most likely destination, but it emerged last night that negotiations on that front ground to a halt.
The Northern Echo Arena, in Darlington’s Neasham Road, has stood empty since the end of the football season, when Darlington FC were demoted to the Northern League after collapsing into administration in January.
The rugby club statement said: “Following long drawnout discussions regarding the development of Darlington Mowden Park RFC and the purchase of land at West Park, unfortunately negotiations have stalled due to vendor issues beyond the control of the club which neccessitated the club looking for an alternative site.
“Following in-depth discussions with Darlington Borough Council and its owners, the club has made an offer to purchase The Northern Echo stadium, which has been accepted in principle, negotiations will now commence to complete the heads of terms and more news will follow in due course.”
The ground’s owners, businessmen Philip Scott and Graham Sizer, confirmed the news.
In a joint statement, they said: “We are in discussion having received an acceptable offer and will progress with due diligence over the next few weeks.
“This is good news for the town as the stadium is an important local amenity.”
Darlington FC, now called Darlington 1883, are playing their home games at Bishop Auckland’s Heritage Park this season after deciding the running costs of the arena would be too high to remain there.
In July, two parties were linked with the deserted venue. One was thought to be interested in using the arena as an events centre.
The Northern Echo understands that the Newcastle Falcons rugby union team had previously been in discussions with the stadium’s owners.
Darlington Mowden Park play in the national division two (north) and have an average attendance of about 200.
Mowden councillor Bill Stenson welcomed last night’s developments. He said: “It’s excellent news for the town and I wish the rugby club well.”
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