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Deal agreed for Darlington to play at Shildon next season
DARLINGTON FC will play its home games ten miles away in Shildon next season, the fans’ group that runs the club confirmed today.
A one-year agreement was this morning agreed for Quakers to share Shildon’s 2,500 capacity Dean Street ground for the 2012-13 season.
The deal was reached following talks between Darlington FC 1883 (DFC 1883), which last week completed a deal to buy the club, and representatives from the Northern League outfit.
Craig McKenna, DFC 1883 board member and project manager, said securing a temporary ground share was crucial in Quakers' efforts to be awarded a football playing licence by the FA.
Shildon, who finished tenth in Northern League division one this season, will receive £25,000 in rent from DFC 1883, while Quakers will keep gate receipts from their home games.
Mr McKenna said: “A one-year lease to has been agreed for a ground share with Shildon, which we are very happy with.
“Shildon has been great, as has Bishop Auckland, but the deciding factor was that we had spoken to Shildon first and we felt that a degree of decorum was needed.”
The fact that Shildon’s ground has more car parking facilities than Bishop Auckland’s Heritage Park ground was also a factor in the decision, said Mr McKenna.
He added: “The focus is very much on coming back to Darlington next year.
“I do not think there would be a problem if we needed a second year [at Shildon], but this is not a one-year rolling lease.”
Mr McKenna said the financial elements of such deals are normally kept confidential, but a decision to publicise the rents owed to Shildon had been taken in the spirit of DFC 1883’s commitment to engaging with fans.
Shildon will also receive a share of the bar takings from Quakers games.
Fans’ reaction to the announcement is expected to be mixed.
Mr McKenna said: “Some fans did not want to think about leaving Darlington at all, some had a preference for Bishop Auckland, some had a preference for Shildon.
“We knew we were not going to be in a position to please everyone, but we hope that the fans will be fully supportive of this decision and the reasons why it has been taken.”