A newly formed 11th tier club have decided to move into a 26,500 seater stadium which one hosted matches in the English Football League.
They secured the services of ‘the most exciting young management team in non league football in the North East of England’ Craig Skelton and Simon Kasonali.
Fair to say there is a lot of excitement ahead of what will be their first ever season since formation, read more about them below…
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In a press release, the club say: Players in the Tier 7 North Riding Football League might have to pinch themselves this season when visiting start up club Darlington United.
The Vikings have entered into a ground sharing agreement with Mowden Park Rugby Club and will play home games at the 26,500 seat Darlington Arena, the former home of Darlington FC.
The Darlington Arena will be the 32nd largest stadium hosting football in England, and the largest stadium in all of non league football.
The stadium has all of the facilities you would expect to find in a Premier League facility and will be a far cry from playing on school playing fields or in the park as some teams in the league do.
Darlington United FC was created as a new community football club in May by a group of friends located in both the UK and United States with the goal of trying to progress through the various leagues.
When discussions about investing in an existing club hit a hurdle because of the potential issues relating to ground grading if achieving promotion, one of the group suggested starting a brand new club. This would also allow the group to create an identity and build a new brand without the fear of upsetting an existing fan base.
Liz Wigglesworth is a Director of the new club and says there are no expectations on attendances for the new club.
“The main reason for finding a stadium of this caliber to launch our new project was to avoid any issues with ground grading at any level. We want to make sure that the only limitation on the club is our performance on the pitch, not about how many turnstiles we have or how many seats.”
“One of the most frequent comments I have seen is how will we fill that stadium. The short answer is that we probably won’t.”
“People also ask how we will afford the upkeep of the stadium, but that isn’t our responsibility. The main reason to rent a stadium with a fixed price per game is to allow our club to budget effectively. It also saves us money as owning and operating a facility is so much more expensive, let alone the up front costs of buying or building a stadium.”
Darlington United play their first match at the Darlington Arena on Friday August 11th at 7:30pm. Admission is free.
The club said via their official website: “This is not a normal football club. Our goal is to things differently and think about things differently.
“While most fans want their club to own a stadium, we simply won’t spend tens of millions of pounds to buy land and build a stadium capable of allowing us to progress through the leagues. When crunching the numbers, a ground share was the most effective option.
“Now there are draw backs of not owning a ground. People will tell us there will be no revenue from room bookings or we won’t make enough money on food or drinks. Our view is that if you are fighting over an extra ten pence on a Mars Bar or relying on a couple of hundred pounds from a room booking, you are not going to be able to pay the debt interest on the money needed to build a ground, let alone the actual money borrowed.
“Over a thirty year period, we could save tens of millions of pounds by renting a ground for match days while also helping generate revenue for a community facility.
“In terms of playing budget, we will not pay players a wage for our debut season. In future years, the playing budget will be set based on guaranteed income such as sponsorship and profits from the prior year. We will not risk the future of the club by speculating on potential income when it comes to setting budgets.
“The long term plan is to develop a youth section to develop talent for the first team. Once promoted, we will introduce a development team in the North Ridings League for players who graduate from the Academy but might not yet be ready for our first team squad. We want to build a Darlington team with Darlington lads.”
More about the club and their introduction can be viewed by clicking HERE.