At the start of the 2013/14 season, Darlington Football Club undertook a detailed fans survey and the results indicated that 73% of the fans feel that there should be a single group representing the fans interests. In response, the Boards of the Supporters Club, CIC and Trust began working together and then soon sought advice from Supporters Direct on how a formal merger of the three organisations could best be achieved. Supporters Direct’s recommendation was a two stage approach. Firstly that Darlington FC CIC should convert from a ‘Community Interest Company’ into a ‘Community Benefit Society’ and then for Darlington Supporters Club and Darlington Supporters Trust to wind-up their own organisations and to transfer their membership and residual assets to the ‘Community Benefit Society’ resulting in a single entity to look after the affairs of the Club’s supporters.
Before embarking down this path, the Boards of the Supporters Club, CIC and Trust sought the views of the members of their respective organisations and the result was a resounding vote in favour of the process recommended by Supporters Direct. As part of this consultation exercise members were asked for their suggestions on what to call a single entity representing the Club’s fans.
The initial formal step along the path to a merger was taken on 8 December 2014 when the members of Darlington FC CIC passed a Special Resolution at their AGM to convert into a Community Benefit Society. It then took a little while for the legal processes to be completed. Firstly the CIC Regulator had to approve the conversion and then for ‘Darlington 1883 Supporters Society Limited’ to be registered as a Community Benefit Society with the Financial Conduct Authority. This was duly completed on 12 February 2015.
The next significant step took place on 18 March 2015 when the Supporters Club and the Trust held concurrent meetings during which their respective members passed Special Resolutions to transfer the their engagements to the newly registered ‘Darlington 1883 Supporters Society Limited’. At this point an Interim Board of 9 was created, with 3 members drawn from each of the Boards of the Supporters Club, the CIC and the Trust. Immediately following this meeting, the combined membership was invited to take part in an on-line survey to choose a trading name for this new single entity. However the result of the survey couldn’t be announced until the FCA had certified that the Trust had transferred their engagements. This was duly done and the creation of the Darlington FC Supporters Group was announced in the match programme against New Mills on Saturday 25 April 2015.
You can find out more about Darlington Supporters Group by visiting their website at www.darlingtonfcsupportersgroup.org.