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Page last updated at 18:12 GMT, Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Receivership forces Darlington chairman to ponder exit

Darlington Arena
Darlington moved to the Arena in 2003 after leaving Feethams

Darlington chairman Raj Singh has revealed he could walk away from the club should he fail to agree a deal to retain a hold on the club's Arena home.

The club's holding company is in receivership, which could see assets including the stadium passed on to cover a £1.7m loan repayment.

"Without the stadium and the land, there isn't really a business there at all," Singh told the Northern Echo.

"We can't move forward without ownership of the ground."

In response Singh has been keen to renegotiate the terms of the loan owed to creditors Philip Scott and Graham Sizer that was agreed with former chairman George Houghton in 2007.

Current chairman Singh has offered the duo 100 per cent of a new valuation of the land, privately undertaken, with further success-based payments that could take the figure up to 60% of the money owed by the holding company DFC Investments Limited.

"This is a debt that was incurred prior to my time here, and I have made what I believe to be a perfectly generous offer," Singh continued. "However, it has been turned down.

The playing body [DFC] can rent the stadium on a peppercorn rent of £10,000

Graham Robb on behalf of joint-creditor Philip Scott

"Unless this can be resolved fairly quickly, I don't think I have any option other than walking away."

Meanwhile a representative of joint-creditor Philip Scott has reassured the football club they would be welcome to remain tenants at the Arena stadium should Scott and Sizer take hold of the assets from the holding company.

"The playing body [DFC] can rent the stadium on a peppercorn rent of £10,000," Graham Robb told BBC Tees.

"That can continue as long as [chairman] Raj Singh is involved with the football club."

Under the club's current structure the holding company leases the venue to the football club on a similar agreement.

The separation of football club and holding company came about when Singh purchased the business from Houghton in August 2009.

Singh took full control of the playing side, but settled on a deal to halve ownership of the land and assets between the two parties [Houghton and Singh] under the holding company, although Singh's share has since grown to 75%.

"The holding company owes the money and it is now in receivership," Robb continued.

"BDO Stoy Hayward [the accountants responsible for handling the receivership] will either sell it, or the top debtors will be able to realise their assets at the creditors.

"Of course Phillip Scott and Graham Sizer [as major creditors] will be first in line to receive the assets."

2003 - Reynolds builds Arena and it opens in August. By December club is placed in administration
2004 - Reynolds hands over the club to Sterling Consortium - the club's secured creditors having agreed a 1p in the pound deal
2006 - Houghton acquires control of Darlington from Sterling
2007 - Houghton takes loan of £1.7m from Philip Scott and Graham Sizer
2009 - Houghton puts club in administration, Singh takes control in August, club and holding company split
2011 - Holding company goes into receivership, Singh seeks renegotiation of loan to creditors Scott and Sizer

The Arena, built under the ownership of George Reynolds after receiving planning permission from Darlington Council, opened in 2003 when the club moved out of their former Feethams home.

However the controversial Reynolds placed the club in administration in December of that year, and eventually the club was transferred to the Sterling Consortium in 2004, before Houghton acquired the club in 2006, followed by Singh three years later.

The Quakers have suffered a string of difficulties since being placed in administration by Houghton in February 2009.

Houghton agreed a Company Voluntary Agreement with creditors in July of that same year, and Singh was able to retain control of the club in August.

In addition to their off-field problems, the Quakers were relegated from the Football League last season and have appointed five managers in that time, including current boss Mark Cooper.

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see also
Darlington out of administration
07 Aug 09 |  Darlington
Darlington edge toward agreement
25 Jun 09 |  Darlington
New deadline to buy football club
21 Apr 09 |  England
Quakers collapse reports denied
02 Apr 09 |  Darlington
Plans for sport village revealed
21 Mar 07 |  England
Darlo chief plans board shake-up
11 Oct 06 |  Darlington
Football club saved in '1p' deal
25 May 04 |  Tees
Stadium sale gives club lifeline
07 Apr 04 |  Tees
Darlington in administration
24 Dec 03 |  Darlington

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