Liddles Plea To Business
by Scott Thornberry - 28th April 2010
Former Darlington star Craig Liddle is pleading for local companies to come forward and help save jobs in the club’s youth set-up. Liddle has been charged with merging Darlington’s Centre of Excellence together with the Football in the Community scheme, currently being managed by another former player, Kevin Stonehouse.
The merger is intended to safeguard seven full-time and 20-plus part-time jobs that both departments currently employ between them, but Liddle insists more public backing is needed to maintain the funding required.
More than £200,000 a year is needed to run the club’s youth set-up alone, with teams ranging from Under-9s through to Under-18s, while a large slice of funding through grants is likely to be cut this summer.
“It’s a precarious situation for us right now,” says Liddle, currently the club’s Head of Youth who played more than 300 games for Darlington between 1998 and 2005 and has had three spells in caretaker charge at the club.
“The bottom line is if we don’t get sponsorship and advertising money in from the local business community, jobs will have to go.
“There’s only so much money the football club can plough into the youth set-up and funding for us and the Football in the Community is set to be cut this summer, which will make life even more difficult for us next season.
“Businesses large and small can all play their part in helping us, with a variety of advertising and sponsorship options available, while donations of any kind are always very gratefully received.
“The Darlington Supporters Trust sponsored two of our teams last season and it’s that kind of support which has kept us going. But we need a big push now just to keep everyone in jobs and to maintain the development of our younger players.”
Darlington’s first team have benefited from the club’s youth set-up this season, with Jordan Marshall, John McReady, Michael Smith, Dan Byrne, Corey Barnes, Josh Gray, Dan Groves and Curtis Main all featuring in the senior side.
Liddle has also set up new development centres in Newcastle and Peterlee, with another to follow in Darlington to run alongside the current Centre of Excellence.
The merger will mean the club’s youth coaches will also be helping the Football in the Community scheme deliver their projects in Darlington and surrounding areas.
“It will be all hands to the pump as it is,” says Liddle. “Our staff have been working flat-out but their workload will have to increase and the demands on them will be even greater.
“They’re a dedicated bunch of hard-working people who love working for Darlington FC and it would be a crying shame for anyone to lose their job.
“Any job losses would also have a detrimental effect on the service that we can afford. The youth coaching set-up and the Football in the Community isn’t just about football. Yes it’s important for us to develop our best young players, but our Centre of Excellence and Football in the Community departments both cater for hundreds of children and gives them something to enjoy.
“This is about community involvement as well as football development and I’d like to think we have a social responsibility to maintain the best possible service, for the benefit of the football club as well as the children who enjoy it.”
Firms or individuals who’d like to contribute towards the running costs of both schemes, large or small, can contact Craig Liddle at the club on 01325 387000 or email email@example.com