FA Explain Decision

by Scott Thornberry - 18th June 2012

fa explain decision

As Darlington prepare to represent their appeal this Thursday, the FA have explained the reasoning behind the original decision to throw Darlington down four divisions to the Northern League.

Forum poster Geordie Quaker emailed Mike Appleby at the FA asking detailed questions and fair play to Mr Appleby, he has responded with a detailed answer.


I set out below a response to the current situation. As you are aware the matter is subject to an Appeal which is being held on Thursday.

Before responding to the points raised in your email in more detail, I wish to make you aware that The FA recognises the efforts of the fans of Darlington Football Club in the support of their Club. Recent months must have been very unsettling for the fans given the uncertainty surrounding the future of the Club. 

The FA and the leagues are required to apply football's rules consistently and proportionately to maintain the integrity of fair competitions. Unfortunately on occasions this may result in difficult decisions having to be made in relation to the circumstances at some clubs. These circumstances include where a club has not been able to pay its creditors and sought the protection of administration. 

Since Darlington Football Club 2009 Limited ("2009 Limited") entered administration The FA has liaised with the administrator and the legal representatives of Darlington Football Club 1883 Limited ("1883 Limited") in relation to the application of football's rules. 1883 Limited was therefore aware of the requirements at a very early stage. 

The decisions of The FA have not removed the history of Darlington FC. The history of the Club will remain. The FA recognises the importance of the history of a club particularly to its fans. 

The fact remains that 1883 Limited applied to join the football pyramid as a “New Club” under Regulation 6.3 of the National League System. A copy of the Regulations can be found at: 

http://www.thefa.com/TheFA/~/media/File ... e-1011.pdf

Any references that I have made to a “New Club” are entirely consistent with the terminology used in the NLS Regulations. I accept that perhaps the use of this terminology has led to misunderstandings. 

In previous cases where a “New Club” has been proposed to replace a “Former Club” (as defined in the NLS Regulations) the Leagues Committee has required the playing name of the New Club to be different to that of the Former Club so as to differentiate the two. Examples include Chester City to Chester FC and Farsley Celtic to Farsley AFC and more recently Rushden & Diamonds FC to AFC Rushden & Diamonds (a club re starting at Step 6 next season.). Darlington is therefore to be treated consistently with other clubs that applied to join the football pyramid under the NLS Regulations as a “New Club”. Fans of some clubs have welcomed a slight change of name as it differentiates the “New Club” from the financial problems of the “Former Club”. You state that the decision on the name is “too farcical to warrant a discussion” I am afraid that we will have to agree to differ on this one. The interim Board were aware of this possibility and I believe that they did ask for suggestions on an alternative name by way of a Poll.

It is true that Shildon FC’s ground in Dean Street is only graded to Grade F which is applicable to Step 5 of the National League System. This was made clear at our meeting on 14 May. I understand that a new ground share is in place now at Bishop Auckland FC and although this would not comply with the 31 March requirements I am sure that we would concede that meeting this date would not be feasible under the circumstances that those trying to save the club found themselves in at that time. I am pretty certain that they would have had other, more pressing matters to deal with.

I do not wish to enter into the details of the payment of the creditors of 2009 Limited as such matters are confidential. 1883 Limited provided a copy of the purchase agreement with 2009 Limited the contents of which were considered by The FA. The decision to place 1883 Limited at Step 5 was made based on the contents of the purchase agreement including the extent, if any, to which 1883 Limited has committed to meet the creditors of 2009 Limited. 

I hope that the above has addressed some of the points raised in your email. I can confirm that The FA has treated Darlington in accordance with the requirements of the NLS Regulations and consistently with other clubs that have applied to join the football pyramid through that process.