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Query over possible 'administrative error' over transfer of Quakers' 'share'
FRANTIC attempts to prevent the Quakers slipping down an unprecedented four divisions were under way last night after former owner Raj Singh appeared to give the club a slim chance of a reprieve.
The Football Association (FA) yesterday punished Darlington FC for ten years of turmoil – decreeing that the club would play in the Northern League next season. The FA took the decision after community company Darlington FC 1883 (DFC 1883), which paid £100,000 for the club, was unable to transfer the football share – an official licence to play football – belonging to former chairman Raj Singh.
Without a football share, the FA has no choice but to treat the Quakers as a new club, which means it can only enter the football pyramid at step five of the league structure – the Northern League.
DFC 1883 understood that Mr Singh was unwilling to hand over the share, which is a notional ratification that enables them to compete in an FA-affiliated competition, because conditions he had requested had not been met.
However, Mr Singh last night told The Northern Echo he had in fact signed over the share to the new owners.
This prompted hopes an administrative error had been made and the share could now be transferred to the community company.
Mr Singh told The Northern Echo: “As far as I’m concerned the share was transferred over – it’s of no value to me whatsoever.”
In response, Craig McKenna, DFC 1883 project manager, said that when the former chairman offered the share previously, it had conditions attached which were unacceptable to the FA.
He added: “As I have no reason to believe Mr Singh would lie, I could only assume there has been some kind of administrative error at his end.
“If Mr Singh is now prepared to hand over the share unconditionally, hopefully it won’t be too late and we will take it to the FA to see what can be done.”
If DFC 1883 can obtain the previous share, it is hoped the club can appeal to the FA and be placed in either the Evo-Stik League Northern Premier or Division One North.
If yesterday’s decision by the FA was to stand, it would mean the club lining up next season against a number of close neighbours, including Newton Aycliffe, Bishop Auckland and Shildon, the club it will share a ground with after deciding to leave the Darlington Arena.
DFC 1883 said it remained resolute that the Quakers would survive and flourish as a fan-owned club even if placed in the Northern League.
Mr McKenna said: “We had appraised all potential outcomes and have produced plans and a financial model that will work at this level.
“We can be inspired by clubs like Chester, Wrexham and others who have taken this journey and enjoyed great football, grounds with atmosphere and a rekindling of supporters’ enthusiasm.
“Darlington FC now has the prospect of football next season.
Three times this year the club was within hours of liquidation, but the fans would not let the club die.”
He added: “The Northern League will see some great away days at local grounds for our fans; it will also give us the opportunity to welcome the fans of local clubs to our temporary home.
“The football will be tough and competitive and we will not be taking anything for granted but we will be aiming for promotion as fast as we can.”
If the club plays in the Northern League next season, it will be left to Northern League bosses to decide which division the Quakers enter.
The Northern Echo understands the Northern League will place the club in Division One if the Quakers are not given a reprieve by the FA.
A delegation including DFC 1883 chairman Denis Pinnegar and board member Laura Drew had argued for leniency when they met FA officials at Wembley earlier this month.
However, it emerged last week that Northern League officials had been instructed to start making preparations for the Quakers’ possible inclusion.
Durham City’s demotion from the Evo-Stik League means the Northern League’s top flight currently has an odd number of clubs.
By installing Darlington, the FA would be preventing the need for a further reshuffle