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Darlington RFC excited by partnership with Quakers
DARLINGTON RFC said it was excited about creating a community sporting hub that would provide a permanent home for the town's football club.
Michael Wilkinson, chairman of the rugby club, told more than 100 football club supporters that his club was excited about forming a partnership with the Quakers and sharing facilities at Blackwell Meadows.
Mr Wilkinson said the two clubs would share the main pitch, with facilities being upgraded in "bite-sized chunks".
"We want to make sure that Darlington FC have a proper home - you don't want to continue being nomads in the future," he said.
Plans to create 500 additional car parking spaces at the ground were already being discussed with Darlington Borough Council, Mr Wilkinson said.
Fans were also told that the football club planned to launch a fundraising drive with a target of at least £100,000.
The money would be used to reduce debt and to fund the club as it prepared to return back to Darlington.
Fans were told the club hoped to be playing games at Blackwell Meadows sometime next season.
To make the ground suitable, the club would need covered seating for around 250 people, covered terracing for another 250, turnstiles and additional hard standing.
Darlington FC chief executive Martin Jesper said the return to Darlington was crucial to reduce costs and increase income - and was the only way the club could become self-sufficient.
Details of the new fundraising drive had not been finalised but could include a new shares issue and an appeal for donations.
Ian Wilkinson, from Darlington FC Community Interest Company, said members of the CIC had been in talks with the rugby club for the last 14 months about the ground share.
Mr Wilkinson said the tin shed from Feethams was being stored and could be used at Blackwell if needed.