We Get Knocked Down

by Scott Thornberry - 29th May 2012

we get knocked down

As the headline says, we get knocked down, but I tell you what it is getting harder and harder to get back up again.  Even Chumbawumba would be struggling now.

Back in January our clubs future was once again thrown into the air when Raj Singh put us into administration.  Supposedly 'debt free' we had a chance to carry on.  But then the full story started to unfold.

It was disclosed that we were not actually debt free, Raj Singh had 'loaned' money to the club.  But fair play, he publicly stated that he would waive his loan repayment if the community was going to step forward and take over the club.

After some failed attempts to buy the club by businessmen it became apparent that the only option left was for us, the fans, to buy the club and rid it of all of the problems we have had in recent times.  

In January the club was effecitively liquidated with Harvey Madden informing the players the club had gone.  But an extra time intervention by the fans lead to £50k being invested and the promise of further investment with the view to purchase the club.  The administrator changed his mind and the club was back in business.  Crowds of over 6k turned up for the next two games.

Football fans from around the country chipped in and from a club with a hardcore fanbase of around 1400, we pooled together £14000 in two weeks to help the players out as they were not getting paid.

 A further £70k was then injected by Darlington 1883, the fans group formed to take over, this helped the club tick over and also gave the group exclusivity to buy the club.  The funds were once again made up of fans groups donations including the DUFF fund which was built up from not only Darlo fans but football fans from across the country and further afield.

The crowdcube pitch then went live and within weeks we hit the first £250k, this gave us the money to pay off the football creditors, further funding then stalled and settled around the £325k mark. We didn not have enought to pay off all of the non footballing creditors but a CVA could have been agreed.  This would mean the club would pay off non football creditors over 3 years, but this all hinged on Raj Singh accepting the CVA.  In the end it was not accepted, and the communities efforts were in vain.

At this point it became apparent that without a CVA we were going to be punished by the FA, who had already given us a 10 point deduction in the Blue Square Premier and put us under a player embargo which effectively relegated us.  

With the club not actually owning the stadium, this due to the previous owner splitting it from the club and then defaulting on a loan, it meant that it was not feasable for us to play in a 25k seater stadium in the Evo Stick.  The cost was over £270k a season and on reduced income it was not possible. So now we had to make the drastic decision of moving out of town with a view to returning to the area hopefully within 12 months to a new basic stadium once we have rebuilt. We, as a Community Club, do not want any repeat of going into administration again.  It just isn't right and we must fund a way to run the club within it's means.   After discussions with the FA for advice, 1883 decided to choose Shildon. It appears 1883 were given assurances by the FA that this would not affect any decision they would make regarding which league we were to play in.

Due to the change in situation of how 1883 planned to take the club forward, Financial Services Authority regulations meant that we had to return all of the money invested through crowdcube and hope people reinvest in a new Community Interest Company.  www.1883cic.org

1883 then purchase  Darlington Football Club for £100k, this including the £70k previously invested in the club back in February.  They also gave a gaurantee to pay the footballing creditors what they were owed over the next three years, this is reported to be worth a further £100k.

Raj Singh then informs 1883 that he will sign over the football share, which the club needed to continue playing football, but according to The Northern Echo, attached certain conditions.  These conditions were against the FA rules so 1883 could not accept them.  Please don't ask me how a football share can be owned by an individual and not the football club, but thats just another FA rule nobody has explained.

1883 head to FA headquarters to plead our case and after the meeting it was deemed that all had gone well and hopes were high that we would only be relegated two leagues,  to the Evo Stick league.  Still a shock, but a punishment we felt was fair considering previous precedents that have been set.

Then we hear the news from the FA that because the club does not own a football share we are being treat as a new club and demoted 4 divisions to the Northern League division 1.  But the inconsistancies continue.  It has been like a scene from Rocky, day by day as we try to clamber up the ropes to regain our feet we get the biggest whack to lay us back on the floor.

Bam!  Firstly if we are being treat as a new club then why are we being allowed to play next season, you have to be registered by March 31st to start the next season, but we will cough cough that one I think ;)

Wollap!  We are then told Shildons ground would not be acceptable in any higher league, 1883 claim that they were told by the FA that upgrades could be done to make it reach evo stick standards.

Smash!  We are then told we have to change our name as Darlington FC no longer exists. So what have we actually purchased from the administrator? Thought it was Darlington Football Club?

Kaboom! We are the told by the FA on Monday 28th May that we cannot appeal as we are not registered with the Durham FA, even though we registered with the Durham FA as Darlington Football Club on Friday 25th May.

And when we are laid on the floor, gasping for air, the FA have kicked us right in the goolies with another beauty.  We are now told we cannot play in any FA competitions as the 'new club', which the FA told us we were on Friday 25th May, was not registered by April 1st. The old club applied, but obviously not the 'new club' as it didn't exist back then.

It is now reported that Raj Singh has not attached any conditions to the release of the football share and an appeal is now likely.  But listening to the FA comment on our situation it appears that they have very little knowledge of the history of our situation. As it stands it looks like we have paid £200k for well, erm, not sure at the moment.

As a Darlington crisis goes,  this has got to be the biggest test of our strength ever. We have had everything taken from us, and I mean everything.  We have nothing left for anybody to take.  Stadium, gone.  Manager, gone, Players, gone.  League status, gone.  FA competitions, gone.  Now they want to take our name, sweet holy jesus!

We have had middle aged ladies lay out hundreds of pounds to purchase scarves to resell for a profit ( http://www.darlofc.co.uk/news.php?NewsID=893 ), we have had pensioners bike ride to Lincoln, ending up in hospital, bucket collections around the country, fundraising matches, sponsored abseils, quiz nights, race nights, and all to be kicked in the teeth from the powers that are supposed to be looking after our beautiful game.  But at least the sheiks got the trophies they wanted.  I know that sounds bitter but from a fan of the lower leagues it seems that is all that matters these days.

It is time to rebuild, fight back and show these men in suits that we don't need them.  We are normal hard working people who just want to support our home town club.  All we have done is try and do the right thing by people who are owed money.  It appears we would have been better off letting the club go bust back in January and start again as a phoenix club.  At the moment we are neither dead or alive, and as this evening's news stated, we are infact a zombie club. This situation is actually encouraging clubs in future to go bust at the first opportunity, fighting to try and pay off your debts and give your club some diginity back does not work in your favour.

I wouldn't wish any of this on any other football fan, it is just so so typical that once again Darlington fans have been smashed in the face.  This time we are in intensive care, but the life support machine will never be switched off, even when some are trying to unplug it.

Yes some things have been said against the FA, but it is out of sheer frustration, so many people have put hours of time and thousands of pounds of money into our small club, yet we have seen no reward for it at the end. We have lost everything, and as a football fan it is hard to take. Just please mr Football Association, give us a fair crack of the whip, recognise that we now have the original football share.  Listen to our appeal and please allow us to continue the tradition of Darlington Football Club and allow us to start rebuilding in the Evo Stick.

Comments

Add your own in our forum

micra3 - 29th May 2012 18:42:55

We need someone famous or a figurehead to publicise this on a bigger stage

divas - 29th May 2012 18:45:31

Thinking the same thing myself, tried to get it retweeting over twitter to highlight how done over we've been

MikeinBlack - 29th May 2012 18:48:19

Get it went into the Daily papers - you never know!

we_8_poolie - 29th May 2012 18:49:09

Jeff Stelling ?

MikeinBlack - 29th May 2012 18:50:29

I think Jeff would do it you know. Worth a try.

The_Ponderer - 29th May 2012 18:52:08

Go for it Uncovered!
Get it out there!

leedscol - 29th May 2012 18:54:31

What about the MP as well?

MikeinBlack - 29th May 2012 18:58:16

leedscol wrote:
What about the MP as well?


Jenny Chapman seems to have gone very quiet on the Darlo front of late.

Darlo Fonz - 29th May 2012 19:00:27

Everyone on Twitter now! Send this link to all football related people you know on twitter!!

ted_do - 29th May 2012 19:00:55

MikeinBlack wrote:
leedscol wrote:
What about the MP as well?


Jenny Chapman seems to have gone very quiet on the Darlo front of late.


No prawn sandwiches served at Shildon :o

MikeinBlack - 29th May 2012 19:03:43

Darlo Fonz wrote:
Everyone on Twitter now! Send this link to all football related people you know on twitter!!


And Face Book.

leedscol - 29th May 2012 19:09:00

Can we get this to Joey Barton?
Despite his faults he is against injustice and no lover of the FA

Rocky Dennis - 29th May 2012 19:10:03

We need a # that we all need to use

Quakerade - 29th May 2012 19:14:15

For starters it needs bringing to the attention of the Echo and printing on the front page, then what about directly to the FA not that i suppose it would do much good but we need to try and then it needs directing to the national newspapers somehow so everyone can see the s**t we have been through and still going through. Not a lover of Joey Barton but agree 100% of trying to get it through to him.

Darlo Fonz - 29th May 2012 19:17:04

Come on guys think of a # we could use.

jacka1960 - 29th May 2012 19:34:02

been twitting and facebooking......we need to get viral on the FA's arse's.....
I'll be e-mailing all my pals soon asking them to forward it on.....
"ten men who speakmake morenoise than a thousand that are silent!"
...that's yer actual Napoleon Bonaparte like....and he knew a bit about scrapping..
#F!theFAbuildDarlo

carlingblacklabel - 29th May 2012 19:51:31

What about @stancollymore ?

alberto.leidi - 29th May 2012 21:46:23

Hello everyone.
I echo at the disappointment at the behavior of the FA, the fury seems perverse against our love for football.
We are a small club ruined by bad managers. Uff!!
However... I don’t know the English rules: can the club use a name for one year transitional (for exemple: Darlington 1883 FC) and then change it one year later, returning to original one?

Gjw1980 - 29th May 2012 21:53:38

#dontdowndarlo
Just thought from one football to another

poss30 - 29th May 2012 23:00:03

hi guys.liverpool fan here.i seen a rt from @arlarse who got the link sent off @vectorboro. i wouldnt recommed asking current footballers to rt coz its against the fa.

ive copied and pasted @vectorboros's message and got beefybotham to retweet and a couple of high profile liverpool fans to rt also.

go for the celeb's. im gonna try piers and sugar when they are awake tomorrow.

good luck

forgot to mention it was #darloshafted

Lincolnshire_Quaker - 29th May 2012 23:21:19

poss30 wrote:
hi guys.liverpool fan here.i seen a rt from @arlarse who got the link sent off @vectorboro. i wouldnt recommed asking current footballers to rt coz its against the fa.

ive copied and pasted @vectorboros's message and got beefybotham to retweet and a couple of high profile liverpool fans to rt also.

go for the celeb's. im gonna try piers and sugar when they are awake tomorrow.

good luck

forgot to mention it was #darloshafted

Hi poss30 and huge thanks for your work on pushing this excellent summary of the last 5 months by Scott. :D

Personally I've been out of circulation for most of the evening but will get on the Twitter airwaves first thing Wednesday as @SaveDarlo - will use the hashtag!

poss30 - 29th May 2012 23:43:46

its a scandal they tell you the ground has no bearing then its only good enough for the northern league.incompetent FA strike again. that singh guy seems a bit dodgy to me.anyway this is the paste i got off the guy from boro.
Could you pls RT this article on how harshly Darlington fans have been treated by the FA http://www.darlofc.co.uk/news.php?NewsID=923 #darloshafted

ill do somemore tomorrow at work the celebs ive tried i think are all pi**ed at them glam awards

keep it up guys its spreading

Lincolnshire_Quaker - 29th May 2012 23:48:47

poss30 wrote:
its a scandal they tell you the ground has no bearing then its only good enough for the northern league.incompetent FA strike again. that singh guy seems a bit dodgy to me.anyway this is the paste i got off the guy from boro.
Could you pls RT this article on how harshly Darlington fans have been treated by the FA http://www.darlofc.co.uk/news.php?NewsID=923 #darloshafted

ill do somemore tomorrow at work the celebs ive tried i think are all pi**ed at them glam awards

keep it up guys its spreading


@vectorboro has championed us from Day 1. He's had re-tweets tonight from the Sun, Mirror & Times + many others so hopefully the nationals will run something on this.

poss30 - 30th May 2012 00:00:01

sound guy he's brought my attention to it.never thought of the journo's thought they would be scared of retweeting it with it being the fa.

im following a few of them so ill send the link tomorrow hopefully they not gutless.

going to sleep now mate keep it up

MarkPAFC - 30th May 2012 06:29:04

Good luck, Darlo. I hope you get a fair hearing and are soon on your way back. I don't get up to the North East very often but when I do, I'll come along and lend my support.

tinshedender - 30th May 2012 07:34:26

It is time for direct action to publicise our situation.

No amount of tweeting, twittering,whinging, moaning in front of a computer will
make jack s*** of anyone taking notice.

Get down to Wembley on Saturday, get some banners,print and hand out leaflets.
Don't have to pay to watch the game, there will be plenty of press coverage outside Wembley and the surrounding area.
It's the FA's big day, an England match. Spoil it.
TV cameras, national press,get in their faces.
It's called protesting. An protest at Wembley will receive national coverage.

Darlo_Pete - 30th May 2012 07:55:00

MarkPAFC wrote:
Good luck, Darlo. I hope you get a fair hearing and are soon on your way back. I don't get up to the North East very often but when I do, I'll come along and lend my support.


Thanks for that Mark, whilst we have friends like you, we'll always survive. We might be down, but we're certainly not out and Darlo will bounce back.

Lincolnshire_Quaker - 30th May 2012 07:57:16

tinshedender wrote:
It is time for direct action to publicise our situation.

No amount of tweeting, twittering,whinging, moaning in front of a computer will
make jack s*** of anyone taking notice.

Get down to Wembley on Saturday, get some banners,print and hand out leaflets.
Don't have to pay to watch the game, there will be plenty of press coverage outside Wembley and the surrounding area.
It's the FA's big day, an England match. Spoil it.
TV cameras, national press,get in their faces.
It's called protesting. An protest at Wembley will receive national coverage.

Didn't think we'd be back at Wembley under such circumstances but I'm up for it. Down in Bedford over the weekend and can be there in 1.5 hours from there. Is this a goer?

TinShedDarloFan - 30th May 2012 08:04:27

I see West Brom goalkeeper Ben Foster gave VectorBoro a retweet with the link to the story on ast night

tinshedender - 30th May 2012 08:17:23

That's two of us then Lincolnshire

charlie - 30th May 2012 08:25:03

its only early guys, give this a chance, I`m working otherwise would of joined you but I do think if its done in the right way its a good idea

colinmac - 30th May 2012 09:32:52

I know a bloke at the FA. Not sure how much influence he has. I've printed this out and will get it to him this evening.

MKDarlo - 30th May 2012 09:36:19

I tweeted the link to the article last night to the extent that i was put in twitter jail!

it has had loads of re tweets form fans all over the place. Have a look at @MKDarlo if you do twitter.

Vector Boro has been great and hasd spread the word amougnst all kinds of people.

Mark BRFC - 30th May 2012 10:35:24

On behalf of all Blackburn Rovers Fans id like to wish you all the very best of luck with your project.

The plight of football clubs across the UK needs addressing desperately. We at BRFC are currently suffering at the hands of our owners. our pre tax losses have risen from 1.9m p/a to 18.6m in the first year of new ownership.

We have recouped 45m in player sales and slashed the staff and wage bill by 50%, having spent 15m on players in during the same period, its sad to see owners allowed to asset strip, mortgage and generally abuse such important parts of communities, and about time the authorities stepped in.

We are fighting the fight just like you guys. @BRFCActionGroup @brsit_trust, keep the faith....................

@no1pieman

we_8_poolie - 30th May 2012 11:14:12

Cheers Mark ...and then when you feel it can't get any worse they demote you 4 divs ...refuse you to enter cups... and make you change your name.

Time for the FANS to rise.

@arsenalObsessed - 30th May 2012 11:51:32

Hi all and all the best for the future. My father-in-law lives in Darlington and my parents in Richmond. Used to go to Feethams when I was younger so really sad to see what's happening to what was a great family club. I fired off a few tweets this morning to Adrian Durham at Talk Sport (even though we don't get on) and ex Gooner Ray Parlour who both RT'd and your storey has been getting RT's ever since. I have a fair few followers so if you need anything else please let me know, good luck

ArsenalObsessed

Darlo Fonz - 30th May 2012 11:58:35

Thank you so much ArsenalObsessed! It's shambolic what the FA are trying to do.

we_8_poolie - 30th May 2012 11:59:27

Cheers Gooner !!

fozzovmurton - 30th May 2012 22:57:02

I have just started using twitter more lately...I have put the word out to some of the people I follow, I am not very good at putting things into words, and not very good at expressing myself in 140 words, so all I put was

Quote:
hi, i am a darlington fan can you take up our cause, check out http://www.darlofc.co.uk/news.php?NewsID=923 many thanks #wewillriseagain


I have put the message across to Mike Bushell, Jeff Stelling, Stephen Fry, Max Rushden, Tubes from Soccer AM, John Bishop, Wayne Allen at TFM, hell I even tweeted Ant n Dec and Pixie Lott...will put it out to more as I start to follow more people on there

Hope it kind of helps anyway