Darlington FC Supporters Group (DFCSG) have launched their fundraising drive to upgrade the Blackwell Meadows facilities to enable promotion to the National League when the opportunity should arise.
The plans include the installation of 224 covered seats adjacent to the existing seated stand which will raise the overall seated capacity to over 500 together with a brand new pitch and drainage. Both of these works were intended to have taken place during the initial move to Blackwell Meadows but weren’t viable due to the increased cost of the move home.
The total cost needed to push forward with the developments stands at £193,000 and is structured into four phases:
1) Pitch and drainage: £42,000 by 15th May 2017.
2) 224 additional covered seats: £150,000. This will be split into 3 parts:
- a) Ground works to enable the construction – £50,000 by 31st July 2017
- b) Erection of steelworks and cladding – £50,000 by 30th September 2017
- c) Purchase of seating deck – £50,000 by 31st December 2017
The above timelines if met will allow the Club to have the infrastructure in place to fit the criteria for promotion. In the event of promotion the Club would then have until 31st March in the year after promotion to bring the ground up to Category A which would mean additional demands in order to raise the capacity to 4,000 from the current 3,299. It is envisaged a terrace built part way across the West End would achieve this although design and planning are not yet finalised in this regard.
The fundraising will be targeted using the previously successful Community Share scheme which allows supporters of the Club and local community to invest into the project by way of a long term loan. Community Shares can be cashed out provided funds are available from year 5 onwards and also attract a small investment payment. The first Community Share offer which raised £100,000 towards the move back to Darlington is currently being accrued for at £5,000 per year — year one funds are in place.
In addition to upgrading Blackwell Meadows the Group have launched a “Boost The Budget” scheme designed to allow manager Martin Gray to retain the squad which has performed well this season in the upper reaches of the National League North, as income for the 2016/17 season has fallen short of the required amount to sustain the playing budget set unless there is additional non-operational revenue.
As a fan-owned Club we have the opportunity to all put in a small amount to make a big difference. 500 fans committing to £3 a week would raise £75,000 over the course of the season and ensure that Martin could be given a similar budget to this season with hopefully similar results on the pitch.
For those interested in investing in the future of Darlington Football Club you can find additional information and subscribe to both schemes at fundraising.darlingtonfcsupportersgroup.org
The DFCSG will be announcing very shortly the plan for those supporters who would like to invest offline.
Regarding the external investors mentioned at the fans forum, we were not made aware of this development in advance and are currently in the process of gathering the facts. A further update will follow shortly.