Darlington FC will not be allowed to participate in the National League North play-offs due to a lack of seats in the team’s home ground, the club has confirmed.
With Darlington FC currently in 5th position, fans were optimistic of the Quakers securing a place in the play-offs. However, according to National League requirements, clubs are required to have 500 covered seats across two stands – a Ground Grading rule that was introduced in May 2016.
The requirement was not picked up at the time of the development of Blackwell Meadows, where the Quakers have played their home games since December 2016.
The Darlington FC Board has announced that it will be appealing against this decision and is liaising with Poole Town FC who are in a similar situation.
A statement from the board read: “The rules prior to May 2016 allowed temporary seating to be used for the play-offs, as long as the club could show that it had obtained planning permission and had detailed plans to construct a permanent seated stand.
“To this end, the board obtained quotes for the relocation of the seating currently residing at Heritage Park which belongs to the Club in order to satisfy the requirement.
“This change in the requirement for permanent covered seating was only brought to the board’s attention in the past couple of months. By the time, the board was fully aware of the requirement, it was not able to act because of the timescales involved and the lack of funds available.”
In order to meet the seated stand requirements, the board estimates that the club would require £150,000 and an absolute minimum of 12 weeks before Blackwell Meadows reached the required standards.
Darlington FC’s next game is at Blackwell Meadows on Monday against FC United of Manchester.
Source: Darlington Football Club