Ray Simpson / 14th December 2018

Netcafe with the DFC directors

Netcafe with the DFC directors

On line questions and answers with the Darlington board

 

Good evening, and welcome to our latest netcafe with the Darlington FC board.

Thanks for all the questions we've received so far, they've covered a wide range of topics. There are some interesting questions -- and some very interesting answers! (We'd like to thank David Johnston, John Tempest, Jonathan Jowett and Chris Stockdale for the answers)

If you have a question to ask, then please submit it by 9pm tonight to media@darlingtonfc.org.

Don't forget that if you're not going to Chorley on Saturday, then you can follow the game on Darlo Fans Radio, the club Twitter and the official website.

You can also bet on it if you wish via our betting partner FansBet (you must be aged 18 or over) just follow this link. Remember that our club receives 50per cent of any net profit. When you register, please choose Darlington FC from the drop down.

 

Home / sign up page - http://bit.ly/2Pn0vSF

 
Fan Boosts page - http://bit.ly/2zSjfEH

 

And don't forget as well that Quaker Retail is open on Sunday between 11am and 2pm in the Dolphin Centre for Christmas shopping, and every weekday next week between 10am and 1pm.

 

Off we go!

 

From Steve Bishop

Firstly can I express thanks for all the work David, John & the board have done to keep Darlington Football Club operating in the town. Your efforts are very much appreciated by the club's fans & wider community. Two Questions:

1). With the league becoming increasingly competitive, it's becoming clear a private investor could be required to take us to the next level. Are we considering opening this up for fan approval, with a view to actively approaching potential investors?

2). Mention of the Sporting Village in David's recent press release sounded very positive. Linked to question 1 regarding potential external investment, what are the timelines on updating the fans?

Many Thanks,

Steve

 

Answer

Thanks Steve

At the moment the club operates a fan owned model but as you suggest this league is becoming considerably more competitive with more clubs being funded by wealthy benefactors. If the view of the DFCSG is that the current model needs to change then that should be raised by the members at a DFCSG Board meeting.

The Sporting Village (SV) provides us with an opportunity but we also have to consider whether we are best remaining and developing at Blackwell. The immediate problems at the SV are that;

  • We would return to playing at the Arena on plastic which currently would prevent us from returning to the Football League. This may seem a long way away at the moment but to vote to return there with the knowledge that if we were successful on the field we would be prohibited from playing in the Football League and again look for a new home is not one that should be considered lightly.
  • There is also the question of Primacy of Tenure. This means that as part of National League rules, our home fixtures have to take priority over the other teams playing there. We currently have this contractual arrangement at Blackwell Meadows but currently no solution exists at the SV.
  • The commercial opportunity at the SV however is better than that associated with our current arrangement at BM. We would get greater revenue share plus the corporate opportunities, environment and experience are far better and as such we need to seriously consider this as an option and are looking at ways to resolve the Primacy of Tenure issue. This is currently being investigated by a sports consultant engaged and paid for by the SV.

I have also discussed and agreed the potential should the above Primacy of Tenure be agreed that the SV provide a grass pitch complete with floodlights for DFC use. The infrastructure around this however would have to be paid for by the fans and this would cost c£5m for a 5,000 capacity stadium that would meet FL criteria. This is one option for the fans but it is expensive and comes with risks. The alternative is to continue to develop at BM which we are currently discussing but the capital costs would naturally be less given the development there to date.

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From Geoff Wall

Firstly may I thank you both for your commitment as Directors to Darlington FC. Most fans understand what a difficult task you have and fully appreciate the work you do to keep Darlington FC alive especially financially.

 My question is, can you outline the difficulties the club faces when bringing in loan players including the financial implications.

 

Answer:

 Thanks Geoff

The model we started the season with included the decision that we would try for a settled squad of contracted players to give stability and continuity. Obviously as the season has progressed the results are not what we had hoped for and now we are looking to freshen up the squad by using the loan market. This in itself brings difficulties as when clubs loan players they expect them to play. We therefore have to guarantee slots but the model we are now successfully looking at is trying to sign loan players for free providing they play but if they sit on the bench they could cost us a small fee.

We will be bringing in several new faces soon from clubs at championship level and below – we have brought in Andrew Nelson from Sunderland and Alex Wollerton from Leeds in the last two days -- but there is obviously a transfer window that prevents us from getting players from Newcastle, for example, as they are a Premiership club.

Given the financial pressures of setting budgets that are obviously heavily dependent on gate income, we believe that the best model for the future is a balance between more use of the loan market and less contracted players. This is something we will be exploring further this season and looking in to next.

 

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From Dale Sanderson

Many thanks for your hard work that is going on behind the scenes. With this club, our club,  it is refreshing to see us taking action with finances at an early stage and not causing us problems further down the line.

 It appeared to me and other supporters that we had a good amount of income in the summer. Transfer fees from Turnbull, Gillies and Heaton off the top of my head (All undisclosed I know). Reece’s goal celebration and the Marathon Bet game. Supporters also raised £85,490 towards the boost the budget. I’m fully aware with the later one that this isn’t all up front as I am still paying my contribution monthly by Direct Debit. 

 With the recent departures of Reece and Syers being a disappointment amongst a lot of supporters (though the statement from the club explained the reasoning for this I know), leads onto my question being that were all the pledges honoured/are being honoured from supporters in the Boost the Budget? If they weren’t/aren’t then do you know what the final figure to be raised from this will be/is anticipated to be? If there has been a shortfall in that figure then I believe this will give a greater understanding to supporters of the reasons why we are coming up short on the pitch at the moment. 

 Many thanks again and best wishes.

 

Answer

Thanks for your question Dale

No, there is not an anticipated shortfall from the Boost the Budget. The income you describe above was included in clearing down debts last year and also supporting transfers into the club so the ongoing finances to pay the wage bill are a combination of Boost the Budget, gate receipts and other commercial income. As a club, we have suffered from the following:

  • There was a cost overrun on the new stand that was not forecast or anticipated. This was a project managed by volunteers of the club at no personal expense but the total figure came in above budget.
  • The pre-season income was way below the budget projection and we will certainly reflect on this when setting future budgets and arranging pre-season friendlies. I viewed this last season as an opportunity to drive income which despite the clubs involved did not materialise. Next season the purpose of pre-season will be around player fitness and squad gelling. Financially it did not work.
  • Commercial sponsorship – Several sponsors did not re-new given the current austere times which again produced a shortfall. We have recently appointed a Commercial Director to drive this moving forward and the early results are very promising.
  • Gate receipts are down considerably v budget which is a major source of our cashflow and income. This again has caused significant problems.

Remember all of the above resulted after we had set the budget and the playing squad. In future years we will have to set the budget much lower and use the loan market. As a club we as Directors cannot go through this again and as such future playing budgets will be lower I’m afraid. As more wealthy benefactors and clubs come into our league, wage expectation spirals as pressure for players increases from a smaller pool of available talent. This is only going to increase and we need to take stock and find a better blended model with the loan market which brings obvious issues given the short term nature of loans.  

 

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From Adam Cattell

 

Hello 

 

I have a couple of questions I hope DJ and JT are able to answer them. I am an exiled fan and was sad to hear of the vitriol some board members received after the weekends game.  

 

  1.  Given Darlo​ fans raised in excess of the proposed budget in the summer, do you understand ​supporters’ frustration that we are currently left with a wafer thin squad and regularly having to include 16 year old kids on the subs bench? It was claimed it was a play off budget- were DFC fans sold a false promise? 



  1. (for John Tempest) You recently tweeted your support for both Tommy and Alan and stated that you were confident that they will turn around our current predicament. Do you still feel that, and if so what makes you think they will? 



  1. How catastrophic would relegation be for Darlington FC?  

 

 

Thanks,

 

Adam Cattell

 

Answer:

Thanks Adam – Of course we understand the frustration, no-one feels it more than me that things are not going right. At the start of the season we decided to progress with a smaller squad of contracted players obviously amid the pressures of wages created by this league and wealthy benefactors. To date this has not worked out and with the financial pressures I have spoken about earlier (see the answer to Dale Sanderson’s question above) we have had to make adjustments. Talk of selling fans a false promise is not correct in my view; we put together a squad of players who have played at this level and above and we hoped for a top 7 finish and still do. I suppose next year with a reduced budget I could say….right we are trying to avoid relegation everyone, we can’t compete financially at this level but let’s hope for the best and that way we don’t raise fans hopes…..but we also probably get less support. That said I think we should have had better performances and results so obviously we need improvement.

 

Tommy and Alan are working tirelessly to get better results but they fully understand our expectations. No-one is more frustrated than them and we have given them the opportunity to re-fresh the squad through the loan market and we hope for better results.

 

We are in a difficult position at the moment but we are not panicking about relegation. Now is time for cool heads and we need to work our way to a better position. I think what is evident is that this league and its spending power is difficult and it will only get harder. Without greater sources of revenue coming into the club, we have to accept that we may be at this level for some time. I do not anticipate relegation however and performances will improve. Relegation obviously would significantly impact on the club and we would have to cut our cloth to suit the level of income and budget we could afford. Unfortunately this is a reality of the money coming into the game at lower levels…..player costs spiralling, wealthy benefactors, full time teams etc. That said we have to improve with results and performances.

 

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From Mike Oxlong

 

 

Good evening..

First of all I did not see the scenes at the end of the Nuneaton game.  I believe they were unsavoury and uncalled for, directing abuse at the board, Yes feelings are running high but not called for...

My Question

Straight answers please as we are a FAMILY FAN owned club,  I believe this Fan owned model has run its course as we cannot compete in this league on the budget you have even though DJ believes it is.  We will continue to lose fans because of where we play I personally hate the place , the match day food is appalling and over-priced and the admission price is too high to attract the floating fans. We need investment , I don't care if we stay in this league for a few years to come, that's our ceiling I'm afraid.. I'm not asking to know every single penny spent but talk to the fans more that's all we ask more transparency will help.

I've supported this club for 30+yrs and it's getting harder since we moved to BM..

I truly believe IF we stay put we will keep losing fans..

Regards 

Mike Oxlong

 

 

Answer:

Thanks Mike

 

The abuse aimed at management and Board is unacceptable. I will gladly walk if that’s what the fans want……I can do without the abuse for no financial reward or thanks. That said the club would be in difficulty and I have a responsibility to help it through this difficult period but if there are any individuals out there who wish to step up please contact me or the DFCSG Board.

 

The budget we can afford should enable us to compete AT THIS LEVEL but I agree moving beyond here will be extremely difficult given the finances. We are a fan owned club but whether this model can work beyond this level and with our income and fan base is questionable in my view.

 

Blackwell Meadows is our current home and we have started to develop the infrastructure here. The list of alternatives is not great but it does include the Sporting Village with whom we are in discussion. Please see my comments in relation to this earlier (see the answer to Steve Bishop above) . DFRC are working very closely with us to improve the match day experience and have been incredibly patient with our late payment of bills due to cashflow pressures. This is reality and we have to look at the long term position and determine what we can develop at BM to drive greater income. We will shortly decide where we need to be for the foreseeable future and this will be based on cost, development opportunities and commercial income potential.

 

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From Dave Redfern

 

Why did we let better players go like Phil Turnbull, Josh Gillies etc.

Why have we signed players that are having to travel long distance, when we are only part time, You can’t expect them to keep coming up to train midweek?

The squad is not big enough, the reserves are from the academy and are not experienced enough against more experienced players.            We keep hearing every week the same excuses from Tommy?

 

Answer:

Thanks for your questions and comments Dave.

Sometimes it’s not as easy as you see, players wish to leave because of travel and personal circumstances. Some of the players who have left have actually dropped a level to play and the pool of available talent is getting smaller as other clubs grow. Unfortunately at times we struggle to match the wages of teams at lower levels to us and we have to look further afield for players. This again is reality, if wealthy benefactors are funding this we struggle to compete. I do believe however that we have to make more use of the loan market from our local big clubs which will help moving forwards.

 

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From Richard Matthews

 

I believe we are suffering poor results at the moment due to the misguided policy of signing players from the Midlands rather than talented players from our local leagues.

 

Answer

Hi Richard

Please see my previous answer to Dave Redfern – the pool is getting smaller and the wages are rising quickly even at lower levels. We constantly look at the local leagues and bring lads in for trials at training but the step up to NLN is significant.

 

 

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From Maurice Paton

 

My question relates to the "Boost The Budget” fund, and to the usage of the money - which was an impressive amount. The money raised by the fans was designed to put us in a position to challenge for a play off place. In fact the club pitched the idea to the fans in this manner. So why on Saturday against Nuneaton did we have to watch a weakened, depleted, toothless team with no strength on the bench at all?  With the two players who could have made a difference recently being sold to raise money.   Also as a secondary question, seeing as we are seemingly so short of funds, why haven’t Darlington Football Club pursued York City over the friendly match that was promised? The match that never took place?  

Answer:Hi Maurice 

Again please see my previous answers. We considered the York fixture pre-season but given the relationships at the time we considered it a distraction and one that our fans were advising on the social media platforms that they did not want, hence it did not take place.

 

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From Adam Sutcliffe

 

David, can I firstly apologise on behalf of the many DFC fans who support what you're doing for the abuse last week against both yourself and your family. They clearly won't know your background as a troubleshooter and how you've turned companies around and I know you've said in the past that you may walk away if you received more abuse, but please stick by us as you are massively appreciated.

My question concerns pathways for 16/17 year olds. Do we have youth teams up to U18 or is our only outlet post 16 the Academy? I remember that at Stockport away in April we had a few youth lads who have now left, and if there is no U16-18 teams and players are not in the Academy, then having disbanded our reserves, there may be no pathway post 16 for players which we could end up losing.

 

Regards

 

Adam Sutcliffe

 

Answer:

Hi Adam.

Again thanks for your kind words, they are appreciated. Interestingly enough I was in Birmingham on Monday morning and as I got off at New Street Station, a lovely lady ran up the platform to talk to me about this incident and as a lifelong Darlo fan she echoed your comments and asked me to stay (she was on her way to a family funeral in Sutton Coldfield). Unfortunately I forgot to ask her name (apologies) but her passion and comments went a long way to curbing my anger and frustration…a real lifelong fan (thank-you).

We have an U16 side that feeds into the U18 side which is completely separate to the Academy U19 side that competes in the U19 National League Alliance. We will also be entering an U21 side for August 2019. Tommy is leading the Academy work and it is a huge step forward for our club.

 

 

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From Michael Barrass

Good evening

 

I have to say I don’t feel any better than a few days ago trudging out of Blackwell Meadows wondering how the hell we can get out of this mess.

My first question is “ Do the board believe that a more North east based team of players and officials offers a better alternative than a national recruitment policy for financial reasons, (travelling expenditure) and availability for training and to accommodate those players who have to work on a Tuesday and Thursday?”

 

My second question “ do we have a football scout that regularly attends Northern League and Evostik league games for potential recruitment?”

 

Answer:

Thanks for your questions Michael

 

These are difficult times and please refer to my earlier answers – the model will change to better utilise the loan markets in the future.

 

In terms of scouting – we cannot afford a full time scout but Alan and Tommy attend games each week to look for talent. We do bring in players for trials and there are a couple we are looking at currently.

 

 

 

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From James

 

As a fan of 40+ years I would firstly like to say the scenes last Saturday were horrible to see volunteers abused like that is just not on, unfortunately it’s the same group of people every time. 

 

I have two questions. Firstly It has been mentioned to me that the DFCSG have been managing the finances since pre season --  is this the board as a whole or one individual and how does this work on a day to day basis. 

 

Secondly I’ve heard finances are tight again what is the main reason behind this, I suspect it may be poor attendances. Is it not time we look at seeing if we can bring any outside investment in, however I understand the ownership model will have to change to allow this. 

 

Thank you for all you do as a board it’s much appreciated. 

 

Regards

James 

 

Answer:

Hi James

Yes that is correct – Chris Stockdale Chair of the DFCSG has stepped up to manage the finances. This gives Chris a foot in both camps with the Board and the DFCSG Board and gives him full visibility and transparency of the clubs finances. I work with Chris on a daily basis and he is doing a fantastic job. Chris is supported by John Tempest who again works tirelessly for this club and helps tremendously with the day to day management and creditor relations. Without them we simply could not operate as a club on a volunteer basis.

 

Please see my earlier comments about the finances – I hope this answers your questions

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From Larry Carter:

Dear Sirs

 

Three questions which I’d like to be considered for discussion

 

1 Could the Directors advise why there is such a lack of transparency regarding the club’s finances? We fans, as part owners, get virtually no information regarding revenue or expenditure, which leads to mis-information and rumours. Why is it such a secret that this information cannot be provided to fellow shareholders?  

  • Who is responsible for seriously mis-calculating the proposed attendances and income generated which has led to the Chairman announcing, again without explanation, that the ‘budget has been cut’ mid-season despite fans pledging beyond the target for the ‘Boost the Budget’ initiative. Someone must be accountable for letting this happen and if so, where did the base figures come from?

 

  • Is one of the reasons for the overspend in budget down to paying players’ travelling and accommodation expenses when attending matches (home AND away) and in the rare event of them attending training (according to the manager)? If this is the case as suspected, was this brought to the board’s attention and factored in when signing players from hundreds of miles away?

 

For the record, as a Darlington supporter of over 40 years, and a season ticket holder for most of that time, as well as making significant contributions to the various share and pledge initiatives in recent years, I stayed away for the first time ever for the match versus Nuneaton, in protest at recent events (lack of training mainly) and the uncaring, defeatist attitude of MOST (not all) of the current squad, but mainly because of the sheer incompetence of the manager (and assistant it has to be said) whose situation in most people’s eyes is, and has for a while, been untenable.

 

To those volunteers who give up their time, work so hard and do such a wonderful job for Darlington Football Club, I’d like to extend my thanks, but the current situation with the manager and team cannot be allowed to continue.  

 

Yours in Sport

Larry J Carter

Northallerton, North Yorkshire

 

Answer:

Hi Larry, and thanks for your detailed questions.

1). The DFCSG  Board as the represented body for the fans have full transparency of the club’s finances. This was a change we made in the close season as we looked to strengthen the working relationships between the two Boards. Prior to this, I personally think the relationships were not great and I think we now have a good working relationship. Naturally we do not publish our accounts into a wider domain as this only opens up the questions and enquiries that will distract us on a daily basis. The elected Boards manage this on a daily basis and we do not want 1000 people wanting information, requests and to be honest enquiring without possibly understanding how the detailed business finances work including personal guarantees, bank relations, overdrafts, creditor profiles etc. Naturally not everyone will understand this detail and therefore we have elected Boards to do this.

*FY results for the financial year ending June 2017 will be published in January -- an AGM will be held. There will be a detailed presentation on finances at the AGM which will give shareholders and supporters a more informed understanding of the business, the challenges faced by the DFC Board over the previous financial year and the risks and opportunities going forward.

 

b). That came from the joint Boards but it’s my responsibility as CEO and Chairman.

For information:

Average Attendances (league only):

18/19: 1370 (10 games)

17/18: 1456

16/17: 1739

16/17 @ Heritage Park: 1592

16/17 @ Blackwell Meadows: 1872

15/16: 1204 (last full season @ Heritage Park)

For the 18/19 season we have:

500 club holders:                    331

Season ticket holders:            554

On average circa 650 season ticket holders & 500 club holders attend home games. The rest of the official attendance is made up of pay on gate customers + online sales + hospitality.

Season ticket sales increased for this season v last season so forecast attendance was set at 1500.

Matchday gate receipts (excluding pre-season) are currently circa £15k behind initial forecast.

Matchday gate receipts are part but not the whole reason for budgeted income being lower than forecast.

 

Attendance forecast for 19/20 season & therefore budget will be based on season ticket sales + average attendances this season + a margin of safety. i.e. if average attendance this season is 1370 we will discount that by a factor (say 90% giving = 1233).

Travel expenses:

Total player travel expenses are £225 per wk. To date this has cost DFC circa £4000. Travel expenses form part of the playing budget.

Thank-you for your support over the years, difficult times and naturally passions are running high.

As stated previously however, the club needs to stick together and abuse and negativity will only drive a downward spiral for everyone. Fans telling young local lads for example that they are not fit to wear the shirt need to wake up and look at reality. We have no right to expect we are going to win every league, the game is changing quickly due to the money coming into it……we have to adapt to survive.

 

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From Colin Lee

Most disappointed that Reece Styche was allowed to leave the Club without any notice to the fans.

We are a fan owned Club so would have been nice to have been told the reasons why it was necessary and given us the chance to have our say.

 

Colin Lee

Leeds

 

Answer: Hi Colin

 

We have never given notice to fans about incoming or outgoing transfers. We are a fan owned club but to consult with 1,000 fans on each decision is both impractical and completely unfair on the player concerned. Imagine….

 

  • we have had an offer for Styche
  • does he stay or does he go?
  • Fans what do you think?
  • This is the financial background to the deal….this is our projected cash-flow for the next 30, 60, 90 days,  - this is our projected profit/loss position
  • Fans what do you think……does this stack up financially, can we have your thoughts on that?
  • Reece – we’ve had an offer but we are now going to publically consult on your future…please watch this space whilst we decide and try not to lose focus or feel down about this whilst we gauge public opinion

 

Colin the fans elect a Board, and the supporters group elect the DFCSG to represent and manage the day-to-day issues for our club. This is the process but if you feel strongly about it, please get involved with the DFCSG…..running the club is a thankless task for no financial reward. The day-to-day stress of this club is far greater than any business I have managed before. These decisions are not taken lightly and the Board discuss this with the DFCSG Chairman before any decision is taken.

 

To be honest this was an awful situation to manage but it was the right decision for the club. I had Reece on the phone several times in discussion with me as he did not want to leave but he fully understood the financial position (he is an accountant). He would love to return one day should the opportunity ever arise and we remain on good terms.

 

A very difficult situation and the responsibility for delivering all the bad news sits with me as CEO ….not great but somebody has to do it.

 

Thanks for your question

D

 

 

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From David Bell



I am pleased to see that the Club has taken action to improve off the field income by the appointment of a salaried Commercial Manager and the recent advertisement on the Club website for non salaried Sales People paid 20% commission.

I am concerned that the position of Commercial Manager was not advertised and was not subject to an open recruitment policy.  Why was this?

Previously on 26/03/15 when the Club was seeking a Commercial Manager this was advertised on the Club website.

Is this a change in Club policy?  If so I feel that this is a retrograde step as the Club could be missing out on available talented individuals.


Answer: Hi David

 

It is a valid point and something we will look to do in the future. To be honest, I am working 7 days a week on DFC and my other businesses and I have to make very quick decisions at times. Once it became clear Craig was interested I moved my diary to interview and then arranged for follow up interviews/meetings with other Board and DFCSG representatives and we appointed based on his experience (identical role at Durham County Cricket Club) where he successfully had driven commercial revenue.

It's worth pointing out that o-one has ever come forward to offer help with commercials, either as a volunteer or on a paid basis.

 

It is not a change in club policy but your point is well made and I will endeavour that we do this in the future.

 

Apologies if this has caused concern

D

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From David Moore

Good Evening,

 

I have supported the club for many years and appreciate the hard work of the Directors and Volunteers.However can you please explain how the club can survive let alone make progress when it is constantly selling it's better players.We may end up debt free (debateable)but we will definetly end up fan free (certain) if this policy continues.It saddens me to think that after all the club has been through over the past few years,and the efforts of everybody, that in a few years time we could end up back in the Northern League,with a side which is run of the mill.

 

David Moore

 

Answer 

Hello, David:

It’s a simple choice we are either solvent or not. For me as a Director who faces the Companies House responsibilities and any knock on effect onto my other businesses we must remain in a solvent trading position hence the early actions on the budgets.  There is no other option I’m afraid. 

 

If you see my other answers I think there is an alternative model as to how we assemble future squads - with our budget this has to be less contracted players and more loan players. 

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From Doug Embleton

There is potentially a wide range of professional skills and experience across the fanbase.  Does the club have access to these in areas such as employment law/ employment contracts; medical fitness assessment ( e.g. for incoming transfers)? If Yes, do we use these skills? If No, should/would we in future?

 

Answer:

Thanks Doug – in terms of legal advice we have Jonathan Jowett on the Board who is legal counsel for Greggs plc on a daily basis so we utilise his skills frequently. Your point is well made however that perhaps we should be tapping into our fan base to better utilise skills and knowledge. This is maybe one for the DFCSG to look at. I have however utilised the skills of the DFCSG on infrastructure and planning and they are a great help to me.

 

Question 2:

 

With the benefit of hindsight, were the projected attendance figures used for this season's budget too optimistic? What was the rationale behind them?

Answer

Hindsight is a wonderful thing! We planned the numbers based on previous years and projections and we even modelled this game by game based on the potential travelling following. We got it wrong but will make adjustments next year. This will however reduce the playing budget further.

 

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From Mike Sowerby

At the last fans forum, DJ was really positive and upbeat about the Football Club being a major player in the proposed sports hub.

He said he was pushing for us to have our own 4G pitch and clubhouse to generate long term sustainable income for us, and gave the impression that he was fairly positive about the outcome.

I know, through my involvement with another sports club in Darlington that the hub has gathered pace and held discussions with all the major sports in the town.

What exactly is the football clubs position currently as cannot for the life of me see why Mowden would allow us the above. Why should they at the end of the day, and if so, what if any alternatives do we have.

Answer:

Hi Mike

Please see my detailed answer about the SV v BM options.

I am still looking to pursue the 4G option and have held discussions with both the council and DRFC, but as you will expect there is still the overall decision to be made about where we play and this will be based on the capital expenditure costs of development and future commercial revenue opportunities.

 

 
Question 2
 
Why do you still have faith in TW/AW given :
 
their statistically poor playing results particularly at home, 
complete lack of entertainment in most home games,
 lack of tactical awareness, 
poor recruitment of many players, 
allowing players to miss training, 
Signing clearly unfit players, 
Inability to get full commitment from many players, 
Allowing players during and at end of matches to have slanging matches with them, 
It is obvious that they have lost the majority of fans and many players. 
Why does the board still have faith in them? 
 
Answer:
Results have not been great and the management team knows the Board expectations. 
The atmosphere at BM has at times been toxic and fans yelling at players
"they are not fit to wear the shirt" are completely out of order.
The players are contracted and will be here for this season –
we will however look to add quality to the squad through the loan market.
 

 

 

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From Stuart Hutchinson

 

Hello Darlo v Stockton Town - 18th December 2018 Durham Challenge Cup

Is there a reason why this game has been arranged for 18th December and not the usual Wednesday midweek slot? The match clashes with Boro v Burton in the cup which will have a detrimental affect on the crowd as many Stockton fans are also Boro season ticket holders. You only have to look at Stockton attendances when Boro are at home to see the difference it makes. 

The scheduled date looks like a missed opportunity to me unless DFC aren’t really interested in the fixture? I’d like to know in advance before I jump on the bus from Stockton. 

 

Answer:

Stuart I’m not sure if you aware but we share the facilities with our landlord DRFC who at this time of year have many events on leading up to Christmas. Unfortunately they have a large event booked in next Wednesday hence us playing next Tuesday. 

 

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From Alan Phillips

I’d like to thank the directors and other volunteers for all the time they put into the club, and hope they aren’t too dismayed at the unacceptable scenes at the end of the Nuneaton game.

Q1 When does the club expect to be in a position to provide further details about future plans re the potential Sporting Village and development plans for Blackwell Meadows?

Answer: Please see my earlier answers

Q2 The appointment of a full time commercial manager is a great step forwards, but is it possible for the club to develop the commercial revenue streams necessary to support a football club higher than the Conference North while we are located at BM with the current deal?

Answer: That is a difficult one to answer – quite clearly with the money coming in from wealthy benefactors this league is getting tougher and it is getting harder to compete for the playing staff . The BM contract is not particularly onerous but it does not encourage our fans to spend money with the current commercial share.

 

Q3 .Is there any expectation for further cuts to the budget this season?

Answer: Hopefully not but we will continue to closely monitor actual income versus forecast and very closely manage our cashflow position. We will take any actions required.

 

 

Q4 : What is the club’s current debt position and projected financial position at the end of the season?

 

Answer: Our trade creditor position in last published accounts (ending June 2017) was £143k.

At end of the last financial year (ending June 2018) this figure was only moderately lower due to timing issues on receipt of funds & VAT due. Further details will be provided to shareholders and supporters when our FY results to June 2018 are published in the new year.

Trade creditors have been further reduced in the current financial year, currently circa £66k and the aged debt profile has moved considerably shorter as we have paid off historic debts.

The financial position at the end of this season will depend on the performance of the business over the remainder of the financial year.

 

Q5. Does the Academy provide any income to the club?

Answer: Yes it does which we will soon start to see the benefit from. It is not huge but as our numbers grow we will get more revenue.

 

 

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From David Earle

 

Firstly, thanks to the directors and DFCSG board for their work behind the scenes. A truly thankless task!

My first questions relates to infrastructure development plans. I believe David Johnston mentioned in his latest statement that plans are being undertaken in respect to where the club will be playing going forward.

Q1: When can we expect to hear the official details of these plans?

Answer: Hi David – very soon in detail I hope. I am working on final costings now

Q2: In terms of capital to be raised, how significant will this figure be?

Answer: Depends on location but I think we need c£2m at BM or if we are to develop our own ground at the SV c£5m.

My next questions relate to the ownership of the club.

Q3: Recently, amongst some members of the fan base there have been calls for private investment into the football club. From what I can see there is nobody willing to approach the club at the current time so committing to fan ownership is our best and only option!

However, in respect to this is it possible to confirm whether the club would ever consider private investment? Has there been any approaches made to the club, excluding the individual who got us demoted? Would the club look to approach investors? 

Answer: This is one for the DFCSG as it’s not my decision to take. Members would need to vote on it but from a budget perspective we can compete in this league but I question whether we can afford the budgets for the league above where we would need to go full time and have further travel and potential overnight stays etc. If the club were to decide to invite external investors then the huge question of ownership arises. Anyone putting significant sums into the club will want to control what the club does and therein lies the problem created by previous ownerships. It is not an easy one to answer or fix.

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From David Hutchinson

It is clear that the Team needs a MF general .
 
The pretty football is not enough to win games . 
Bringing kids in to do a mans job is not the way forward . 
More a penny pinching exercise  .
 
Manager needs to be able to make changes now . 
Crowds are dwindling .
A season's budget based on speculative cup run , was nothing more than being naive in most extreme format .
Club playing staff lack leadership . 
Seem to be playing with chip on shoulders . 
 
I fear playing on astro turf may also be having effect on performance.  
 
Talent needs a bonding agent to gell it together . 
No one talking and taking command on the pitch .
I do feel Playoffs are still feasible !
However no point moving up without backing from businesses similar to how Richard Corden together, providing our Club its most successful period   .
To Manager and Board  . 
Sort it out .
Good luck .
 

Answer:

Thanks David

 

I am not really sure what your question is but few points from me

 

  • The season's budget was not based on a successful cup run, please see my answers to other questions.
  • Yes we have a young side but they are not playing with chips on their shoulders.
  • The training on astro turf is what most sides do due to a lack of suitable grass pitches.
  • Business backing would be great but there is not a queue lining up to invest.
  • Thanks for your support it is appreciated.

D

 

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From Brendan Ahern

 

Good Evening,

Firstly thank you to The Board for all that you do to keep our Football Club going. I have two questions please. 
Q1.

One thing in football is certain in that managers come and can managers go at any time. Can the Board confirm whether they have any contingency plans in place, should we lose our Manager for whatever reason. Last season we were able to rely on established players to step in on a Caretaker basis. It would appear the current squad does not have anyone with the same experience, or respectability.

Answer:

Thanks Brendan – changing managers is a very complex process and can also be costly. The Board, as any would do, does however look at contingency.

 

Q2.

Can the Board confirm the recent appointment of a Commercial Manager has had no adverse impact on the current playing Budget. If it has not, how is the position being funded.      

 

Answer:

Absolutely yes – this position is self-funding and is going very well. I should have made the decision to appoint the paid role sooner to be honest. It is paying dividends and with a full season behind Craig we will see greater financial returns.

If I am brutally honest, I am not spending enough time on the football club as I am working 5 days a week in Cambridge/London on another private equity turnaround role. This has been my concern for some time and John, Chris and Jonathan have been great in supporting. Personally I think the club needs to have a full time CEO but as this position is unpaid there are not a lot of individuals stepping forward. I will continue to do my best but until my current role is finished I’m afraid, I’m doing DFC work on evenings and weekend and I am not networking in NE circles to drive the club forward. If there is anyone out there who can do this role I would welcome their support.

Wanted – Darlington fan, volunteer, CEO experience, can provide personal finance guarantees to underpin club finances - prepared to work all hours, take all of the legal risk of a fragile business as registered director and expect vitriolic abuse to self and family – please apply in writing to DFC/DFCSG.

That said I do care passionately about the club and want to make a success of it and provide the long term financial stability that I think we can get to….it’s just tough at the moment but I am working as hard as I can to get there.

 

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Keep the questions coming everyone! remember e mail them to media@darlingtonfc.org

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Question:

Dave, a lot of Darlington fans are wondering where has the money gone?

 

Answer: We don’t carry any cash surplus – the budget for the year is based around projected crowds and if they fall short we have cash shortfall. We are not in the luxurious position of happy money in the bank. Everything that comes in ultimately goes out and despite bringing a commercial manager in (who is doing a great job), we are still behind on corporate sponsorship when companies did not renew.

 

I want to explain to the fans how bad this is……for example, when our playing strip deal ended and we had to get a new strip. The accounts of the club have been that poor since it reformed that no-one would give us a line of credit and ultimately the only way we got a strip to play in was by me personally guaranteeing the kit deal. What this means is my personal finance sits behind the kit deal and we have to ensure we sell set volumes and reach revenue targets etc. If we don’t then I am liable for the balance which could run to 6 figures. I also personally guarantee the club's overdraft and have also put money into the club to help pay HMRC bills when we have faced winding up orders over the past 12 months. We do not normally talk about these issues in public but following the vile abuse I received at the end of the Nuneaton game and the chants for me to leave – I feel I need to let fans understand this. If people want me to leave I will walk away tomorrow but I really fear for the financial future of the club if I do. Maybe the individuals who abused me and my wife can pick up the personal guarantees that are the financial under-pinning of this club. None of the Board Directors take a penny out of this club it’s all done on a voluntary basis but you as fans have to decide. I can tell you now…..I want to walk away but I feel I have a moral and ethical responsibility to stay as the club could fold. It is certainly not worth the hassle, stress and abuse for no reward.

 

Let me know and I’ll go tomorrow but someone will have to step up an pick up the personal guarantees or the club could fold.

 

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From Mark Adams

If Tommy Wright were to move from the club, how does the academy lay with the club?

Does it solely with the club, or does it have external involvement?


Answer:
The academy is DFC’s but Tommy provides the coaching at the required level
in addition to his main role at no extra cost to the club .

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We've just received this comment from David Bell -- thanks, David!
Netcafé:

Just wanted to say a heartfelt thanks to David Johnston, John Tempest, Jonathan Jowett & Chris Stockdale.

Without your determination and fortitude we wouldn't have a Club.

Please continue with your hard work and don't be put off by a small group of mindless idiots that purport to be Darlo fans.

David Bell

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Keep the comments and questions coming, everyone. If we don't put the answer on tonight, we'll update over the weekend.

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From Andrea Reese

Considering our finances are far more precarious than many of us had an inkling of prior to recent events , is there any room for renegotiating our rental arrangement with the Rugby club to make us more sustainable and therefore ensuring the long term arrangement we have with them rather than us folding and them losing that stream of income ?

 

Answer: 

The actual rent is £7K more than we were paying at Bishop Auckland and is £34K which if we have a full car park over the season covers the rent.

The commercial agreement is due for renewal at 3 years which is next May/June. We as a club earn from hospitality but it's the bar revenue we will look to renegotiate.

 

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From Peter Smith

Dear David , Apologies  regarding the the distasteful scenes following the match
last Saturday . My main concern is the management team appear to be out of their depth completely.
We simply cannot continue on this path and the fans deserve better.
We have seen decisions on the field which have been a joke at times.
How long can we continue at this level with Tommy and Alan in charge.
Answer:
Peter thanks for your question.

I don’t think it is appropriate to discuss these issues in public to be honest. 
I have an excellent relationship with Tommy and no one is hurting more than him
at the moment.
Tommy fully understands the Boards expectations and he is looking to strengthen
the squad through his contacts in the game. Please support us through this difficult time. Thanks D



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