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 Post subject: Ownership and Finance
PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2019 6:33 pm 
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Having had a good chance to reflect on the netcafe before Christmas and todays publication of the Sporting Village proposals it is more clear than ever to me that we have got to ask ourselves some very difficult questions.

From my recollection of the netcafe it seems that if we don't want to be mere tennants of Mowden Park at the Arena then we would need in the region of £5m to develop our own ground on the site, with the alternative to stay at Blackwell Meadows and invest in the region of £2m to bring the ground up to football league standard. Even assuming we could access grants for some of these developments this would require matched funding from the football club so we would be needing somewhere between £1m and £3m to achieve a return to the football league at any point in the future. An eye watering amount, however you look at it.

So, how could we finance this? Within our current fan-ownership model the only 2 options I could see would be:
1) Via a mortgage, but realistically we have no assets to use as collateral so this feels like a non-starter;
2) Through fund-raising by us all as fan. Whilst we have done amazingly since re-forming to achieve this level of finance would require every man, woman and child from our average attendance to invest well in excess of £1,000 (yes I know we have many fans who can't get to home games who would contribute, but equally I'm not sure how many of our loyal fans could invest this sort of money - I know my personal well is running dry after previous fund raising to return home and build the stands). The other factor to consider with this is for every £ we invest as fans into the ground is a £ less we can invest in the team through boost the budget, which has clearly become an essential funding stream to simply remain at this level. So to rely on this approach could see us caught between a rock and a hard place of reduced investment in the team seeing us drop back down the leagues whilst we develop the ground over many, many years, module by module.

If neither of these options are going to move us forwards then we could rip up the fan ownership model and tout ourselves around to a rich benefactor (cos there's loads of those around!!) but we've all been there before and know all too well the pitfalls of that approach so that got me thinking is there a hybrid model of ownership we could pursue?

I've looked at the German-model which seems to get so much praise with the fans of clubs owning 50+1 shares in the club and any single benefactor/investor being limited to minority (albeit significant) ownership, so theoretically the fans can block any significant decisions which they don't like by voting en-masse. Having read up on this model it seems to work so well in Germany because it is so well established and fans are heavily engaged in the day to day activity of the club in a way which is rarely seen in the UK sadly, so I fear this model wouldn't work because some benefactors/investors would want a larger share of the ownership but also would all of the fans of a club here ever agree totally to block the actions of 1 person - fairly unlikely I would say.

So could we develop our own unique ownership model which allows for a significant single person or group of investors to have majority ownership whilst enabling the fans to have oversight and act to block highly unpopular decisions? The thought I had was that a single person or group could be allowed up to 60% ownership of the club, with 40% retained by the fans, which would allow enough leeway to make the day to day decisions of the club but within the constitution of the club we could establish that certain critical decisions would have to be voted on by all shareholders (fans and investors alike) and would require 75% of all voting shareholders to provide support to be passed. This would allow for a degree of apathy/inability from some to vote and for some disagreement amongst fans even in the most contentious of decisions yet still allow us, as fans, to block key decisions we strongly disagreed about. The sorts of things I would see all shareholders having a vote in the decision making of would be:
* Capital investments over £100k (this would focus on ground investments but not on staff);
* Dividend distributions (unlikely I know) and salary or consultancy/service payments in excess of £100k in a 12 month period, to avoid the sort of underhand payments to friends/relatives of owners witnessed in other clubs,
* Sale of assets (excluding staff) over £100k in a 12 month period,
* Changes to the name of the club, the competitions the club is entered into or the ground the club plays at

I'm sure there may be a number of other critical decisions which all shareholders should be involved in but for the day to day running including hiring and firing of staff, ticket prices or catering arrangements then the majority owners of the club would be able to make those decisions for us.

I'm sure there are many holes in this proposal and many of us may baulk at the idea of moving away from the fan ownership model we have but as I said at the start of this long ramble we need to come to a collective decision sooner rather than later how we progress as a club so I hope this can stimulate some even better ideas which we can debate on....


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2019 6:48 pm 
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This brings back memories of Gray’s last fans forum.

Whilst he was trying to pump us all up with the idea of a mystery money man coming in to invest, someone from the audience asked about whether or not said mystery man ( Singh ) would be happy to utilise the German fan based 51/49 % ownership model.

After 10 seconds thought Gray said no.

And this I feel illustrates the problem.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2019 7:20 pm 
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It's becoming pretty clear that, barring some fairy tale cup run or wunderkind coming through the academy, we are going to struggle to make it much beyond the conference north division in our current model. I'm struggling to see how we will raise the cash required to increase the infrastructure to the level needed to allow the club to grow revenue streams sufficiently. Some fans are probably OK with that. I'll be honest I'm not entirely sure how long my interest will hold if this is our lot now. Maybe its because the reason I initially supported DFC was that they were my local professional club rather than Darlington being my home town. But maybe that's just apathy after whats been ~18 months of struggle in the 6th division.

So if we are to progress we need a wealthy individual who is willing to spend significant money on a poorly supported, part-time football club with no assets. Assuming such an individual could be found, is it 75% of the DFCSG vote needed to change the articles of the club to allow for significant individual holdings? There may well be enough fans (understandably) completely against private ownership to make it difficult to achieve such a margin, even if the perfect 'investor' is available. It would have to be some form of hybrid model. I personally think I'd be in favour of private ownership if the DFCSG retained a veto over budgeting and directors loans so that excessive debt couldn't be run up. So we'd need a superfan who effectively could gift 100s of thousands to boost the budget schemes. But what are the chances of finding someone willing to gift huge money to the clubt?!

Of course, it'd be a risk if we moved away from our current ownership model, but there's risks too under our current model. We're struggling to keep our heads financially above the water at the moment - and that's with experienced, successful businessmen running the club. And some of our less intelligent fans seem to want to force them out, so god knows what would happen if they do go. Under fan ownership our future is likely a part time club in the middle reaches of non-league. On the flip side if private ownership goes wrong (again) then we'd go bust and any phoenix club would probably have far fewer supporters and would be consigned to being a part time club in the lower reaches of non-league. But if it goes well (apparently it does for some clubs) then we would have a chance of becoming a professional football club again. A crossroads indeed.

But it's all probably moot, as I can't see why anyone would want to become involved in us anyway, let alone someone willing to allow supporters to retain significant powers without the relatively significant financial input that a wealthy individual would be putting in. So I guess we plod on, praying for a miracle!

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2019 7:49 pm 
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To change the Articles of the DFCSG then the members need to press the board on a vote of all the members. Until this is done it’s unlikely any one wishing to invest will come forward. Unless that happens I can’t see anything changing and we will flirt between NNL and league below. If the DFCSG had 2000 members then it’s a different story but we don’t.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2019 7:50 pm 
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Fundraising is simply not an option. 5 million pounds is 2,000 fans each investing 2,500 pounds. We have as much chance if those 2,000 fans put a pound a week each into a Euromillions syndicate. I've said before that some sort of syndicate might be a bit of fun for this site.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2019 8:39 pm 
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Vodka_Vic wrote:
Fundraising is simply not an option. 5 million pounds is 2,000 fans each investing 2,500 pounds. We have as much chance if those 2,000 fans put a pound a week each into a Euromillions syndicate. I've said before that some sort of syndicate might be a bit of fun for this site.


Really like that idea, someone has to win I bet the guy from Boston never thought he would win.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 8:36 am 
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It is clear to me, that we have gone as far as we can with a fan's own club and apathy will probably mean we would have to drop down a league to find our level and be happy with that level. The only other option is to give up the fans ownership to an investor, but as there are none around, we may have to accept that relegation may be inevitable, if not this season then next.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 9:44 am 
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Considering thats only your fourth post PLE it's impressive! Definitely sums up where we're at and gives food for thought. It made me think about all those years in the fourth division with a quick dip of our toes in the third. The fans still attended despite many relegation struggles and little hope of success. Are you ghost in another persona?!


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 10:08 am 
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Darlo_Pete wrote:
It is clear to me, that we have gone as far as we can with a fan's own club and apathy will probably mean we would have to drop down a league to find our level and be happy with that level. The only other option is to give up the fans ownership to an investor, but as there are none around, we may have to accept that relegation may be inevitable, if not this season then next.


Relegation is in no way inevitable. We have the capability to consolidate in this league - or should have.

We still need a long term vision though.

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Tamworth matchday programme 26 Nov 2011


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 11:33 am 
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theoriginalfatcat wrote:
Darlo_Pete wrote:
It is clear to me, that we have gone as far as we can with a fan's own club and apathy will probably mean we would have to drop down a league to find our level and be happy with that level. The only other option is to give up the fans ownership to an investor, but as there are none around, we may have to accept that relegation may be inevitable, if not this season then next.


Relegation is in no way inevitable. We have the capability to consolidate in this league - or should have.

We still need a long term vision though.


I do realise that for some the idea that we have got to have a mission statement at the start of every year that includes the word promotion is very much a legacy of the Gray era, and I guess that we all prefer the idea that we are on the up. But perhaps a little more reality would be welcome. Just because we've had to cut back on the expectations at the start of the season doesn't mean that the game is up and a downward spiral is the only possible alternative. It has already been recognised that after getting to a new ground, and making it just about fit for purpose, that sorting out the finances to get the club on a sound footing would be a major achievement, and may have to take precedence over on the field success for a number of years. It isn't sexy or the best selling point but trying to maintain a reasonably high profile in the present league is crucial. We have to stop thinking about anything other than survival for the next few seasons whilst we hope to produce some money making talent, get on board with the sporting village, or find that elusive benefactor. The vision has to be based on moderation, which may well lose some who only wanted to know whilst we were on the up and up. But to have a hope of success in the future the mainstream fans have to prioritise survival and accept that this will place limits on what we can expect the team to deliver.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 11:55 am 
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I don't really see the problem in being a National League North club until we develop beyond being a National League North club. "We have to progress" - why?

We will hit a ceiling at some point. It was League Two before but people were obsessed with going further eventually you either settle for what you can afford OR you perform above your station and then get brought back down to earth with a bang (see us, Stockport County, Bradford City, Leeds United, Leicester City, Sheffield United, Tranmere, Portsmouth, Coventry).

Each have ended up well below their 'expected' level as a result of pushing to be better than that level.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 1:25 pm 
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lo36789 wrote:
I don't really see the problem in being a National League North club until we develop beyond being a National League North club. "We have to progress" - why?

We will hit a ceiling at some point. It was League Two before but people were obsessed with going further eventually you either settle for what you can afford OR you perform above your station and then get brought back down to earth with a bang (see us, Stockport County, Bradford City, Leeds United, Leicester City, Sheffield United, Tranmere, Portsmouth, Coventry).

Each have ended up well below their 'expected' level as a result of pushing to be better than that level.


I have no issue with it either, however some want to win more and they also don't like being able to be outspent by Spenny, South Shields etc.

At the moment we are going nowhere whilst we wait on the Sporting Village, no 5 year plan or anything to look forward to. We have no driving force and Wright is struggling to put a team together that can compete on the pitch (this isn't just budget).

It looks like we have little hope and some give up at this.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 1:44 pm 
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lo36789 wrote:
I don't really see the problem in being a National League North club until we develop beyond being a National League North club. "We have to progress" - why?

We will hit a ceiling at some point. It was League Two before but people were obsessed with going further eventually you either settle for what you can afford OR you perform above your station and then get brought back down to earth with a bang (see us, Stockport County, Bradford City, Leeds United, Leicester City, Sheffield United, Tranmere, Portsmouth, Coventry).

Each have ended up well below their 'expected' level as a result of pushing to be better than that level.


Like all football clubs we try to win every game we play. Given that such a feat is impossible, why aren't teams happy to lose games? Because that's not how life works, we strive to get better, whatever level we are at. And heaven forbid, getting better may mean getting promoted. And getting promoted may mean you end up getting relegated, which sucks. I guess everyone could stop pushing to be better for fear that they might get worse, but I'm not sure that's really the point of this football thing.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 2:10 pm 
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No the point is why are people looking to re-write our structure because it doesn't produce enough money to push us forward. The fact is we operate at the limit of our spending power now.

If fans want to increase our spending power they should speak to colleagues / friends and family and try and convince them to turn up to watch a game and to become a member of the club.

That is how we will do better but it will be an organic growth.

The point wasn't that you may get relegated. The point is pushing for a promotion beyond the level you can sustain leads to debts, debts lead to multiple seasons of cutting costs which leads to multiple relegations to a level beneath where you were in the first place.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 2:13 pm 
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lo36789 wrote:

If fans want to increase our spending power they should speak to colleagues / friends and family and try and convince them to turn up to watch a game and to become a member of the club.


I've brought friends to games - they can't get a very good view, and what they can see of what is being served up on the pitch is, on the whole, incredibly unimpressive. And there in lies the problem. I struggle to see how we can organically grow at BM in its current state.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 2:19 pm 
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al_quaker wrote:
lo36789 wrote:

If fans want to increase our spending power they should speak to colleagues / friends and family and try and convince them to turn up to watch a game and to become a member of the club.


I've brought friends to games - they can't get a very good view, and what they can see of what is being served up on the pitch is, on the whole, incredibly unimpressive. And there in lies the problem. I struggle to see how we can organically grow at BM in its current state.


Indeed, if you can't develop it (and we simply can't) then the possibility for organic growth is none.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 2:20 pm 
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lo36789 wrote:
I don't really see the problem in being a National League North club until we develop beyond being a National League North club. "We have to progress" - why?

We will hit a ceiling at some point. It was League Two before but people were obsessed with going further eventually you either settle for what you can afford OR you perform above your station and then get brought back down to earth with a bang (see us, Stockport County, Bradford City, Leeds United, Leicester City, Sheffield United, Tranmere, Portsmouth, Coventry).

Each have ended up well below their 'expected' level as a result of pushing to be better than that level.


Spot on. As we continually look for easy answers there will be none as anything attracting outside investment to the Club is as visible as our play-off hopes currently. We need to stop hoping for a benefactor, it detracts from our need to rally the troops from time to time and avoids factions taking responsibility. The Gray bully boys would have had us under by now if “promotion at all costs” mentality prevailed.

Another factor leaving us in limbo at the minute is the Sporting Village, which we have millions of £’s to raise to even leave Blackwell, due to grants in the past, so again, would it not be wiser to get another stand sorted or a raised bank etc, some longer-term improvements in the hope we finally start to enjoy slightly increased crowds? I’m not sure, but I do know either direction is expensive.


Ultimately, we are at our level, financially, support wise and from an infrastructure point of view. This leaves no bitter taste in my mouth and have no desire to risk the Club’s long-term future for a roll of the dice with zero guarantees (as we are learning this season). We need to continue identifying things we can do better and get a support network around an already exhausted board, who recently had to hear their family receive abuse despite their best efforts. As owners we are the constant and we can be as supportive or as destructive as we like. I just hope there’s people ready to step in and enforce some sustainable, long term aims so we can create some common ground again, it is very split at the moment.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 2:24 pm 
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TDS wrote:
Another factor leaving us in limbo at the minute is the Sporting Village, which we have millions of £’s to raise to even leave Blackwell, due to grants in the past, so again, would it not be wiser to get another stand sorted or a raised bank etc, some longer-term improvements in the hope we finally start to enjoy slightly increased crowds? I’m not sure, but I do know either direction is expensive.


I believe that as long as football was played there, say the youth or reserve team for example, then we wouldn't have to pay back grants. But as I have been saying, we simply cannot get another stand sorted. There is only half of one end left available for building on.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 2:27 pm 
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Yarblockos wrote:
TDS wrote:
Another factor leaving us in limbo at the minute is the Sporting Village, which we have millions of £’s to raise to even leave Blackwell, due to grants in the past, so again, would it not be wiser to get another stand sorted or a raised bank etc, some longer-term improvements in the hope we finally start to enjoy slightly increased crowds? I’m not sure, but I do know either direction is expensive.


I believe that as long as football was played there, say the youth or reserve team for example, then we wouldn't have to pay back grants. But as I have been saying, we simply cannot get another stand sorted. There is only half of one end left available for building on.


An exaggeration. There is two thirds of the away end available without intruding on the pipe.

Given that the tin shed holds 1,000 at the same level of tiering then you get 660. If you double the tiers you get 1300. That adds if I am not mistaken about 900 to the capacity (as you get about 400 on official capacity figures with the flat standing anyway).


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 2:33 pm 
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lo36789 wrote:
Yarblockos wrote:
TDS wrote:
Another factor leaving us in limbo at the minute is the Sporting Village, which we have millions of £’s to raise to even leave Blackwell, due to grants in the past, so again, would it not be wiser to get another stand sorted or a raised bank etc, some longer-term improvements in the hope we finally start to enjoy slightly increased crowds? I’m not sure, but I do know either direction is expensive.


I believe that as long as football was played there, say the youth or reserve team for example, then we wouldn't have to pay back grants. But as I have been saying, we simply cannot get another stand sorted. There is only half of one end left available for building on.


An exaggeration. There is two thirds of the away end available without intruding on the pipe.

Given that the tin shed holds 1,000 at the same level of tiering then you get 660. If you double the tiers you get 1300. That adds if I am not mistaken about 900 to the capacity (as you get about 400 on official capacity figures with the flat standing anyway).


Yep the ground can be improved and increasing capacity can be completed, however Yarblockos is probably about right in regards to FL ready BM most likely can't be without major investment.

Either way Arena, BM or New ground all have flaws and challenges, be good to see them all listed. In theory all could be a no go for FL, so do we stop now or pick and worry about it later, then slate those who made the decision if it doesn't work. Also with a caveat that it might be a long time before having to worry about FL is even a problem.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 3:02 pm 
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super_les_mcjannet wrote:

Either way Arena, BM or New ground all have flaws and challenges, be good to see them all listed. .

I hope that's what we'll see at some point in the not too distant future

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 3:50 pm 
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Moving the damned pipe is cheaper than something from scratch. If that's what it takes, that should be the option, but an unobtainable 'dream' ground.

I miss Feethams as much as anyone else, but it isn't coming back. Going back to the Arena would kill the club. We need to make Blackwell work. That means all moving towards making it better. This sports village is a distraction, and seems to solely benefit Darlington Mowden Park Rugby club. Fuck it.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 5:53 pm 
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lo36789 wrote:
An exaggeration. There is two thirds of the away end available without intruding on the pipe.

Given that the tin shed holds 1,000 at the same level of tiering then you get 660. If you double the tiers you get 1300. That adds if I am not mistaken about 900 to the capacity (as you get about 400 on official capacity figures with the flat standing anyway).


Yes, a slight exaggeration, we can maybe use 66% of that end rather than 50%! But you need 2,000 seats and a 5,000 capacity in the FL, plus you cannot use flat standing in the FL. That's going to take more than an increase of 900.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 5:55 pm 
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H1987 wrote:
We need to make Blackwell work. That means all moving towards making it better. This sports village is a distraction, and seems to solely benefit Darlington Mowden Park Rugby club. Fuck it.


That's just empty words, like if we try really, really hard the pipe will disappear. DJ stated it would cost £2m to develop BM. How do we move towards this?


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 6:20 pm 
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Yarblockos wrote:
lo36789 wrote:
An exaggeration. There is two thirds of the away end available without intruding on the pipe.

Given that the tin shed holds 1,000 at the same level of tiering then you get 660. If you double the tiers you get 1300. That adds if I am not mistaken about 900 to the capacity (as you get about 400 on official capacity figures with the flat standing anyway).


Yes, a slight exaggeration, we can maybe use 66% of that end rather than 50%! But you need 2,000 seats and a 5,000 capacity in the FL, plus you cannot use flat standing in the FL. That's going to take more than an increase of 900.

Looking way too far forward with talk of Football League. Our immediate tasks are to stabilise / improve finances and stay in the National League North - the finances being a crucial element.
We’ll all have to wait for both the Mowden Park Sporting Village proposals as well as the future options identified by DFCSG’s working party. No doubt DFCSG members will have a vote to make on our future at some time, probably this year


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 6:34 pm 
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QuakerPete wrote:
Yarblockos wrote:
lo36789 wrote:
An exaggeration. There is two thirds of the away end available without intruding on the pipe.

Given that the tin shed holds 1,000 at the same level of tiering then you get 660. If you double the tiers you get 1300. That adds if I am not mistaken about 900 to the capacity (as you get about 400 on official capacity figures with the flat standing anyway).


Yes, a slight exaggeration, we can maybe use 66% of that end rather than 50%! But you need 2,000 seats and a 5,000 capacity in the FL, plus you cannot use flat standing in the FL. That's going to take more than an increase of 900.

Looking way too far forward with talk of Football League. Our immediate tasks are to stabilise / improve finances and stay in the National League North - the finances being a crucial element.
We’ll all have to wait for both the Mowden Park Sporting Village proposals as well as the future options identified by DFCSG’s working party. No doubt DFCSG members will have a vote to make on our future at some time, probably this year


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Spot on, Quaker Pete.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 6:59 pm 
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Yep, we need to be patient and wait for the village plans - bit like Brexit ;)
Mind, there's a thought - perhaps Boris could come and give us some of the £350 million?


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