An innovative new start-up has launched to save Darlington Football Club.
BuyDarlo, which was specifically started after the club went into administration at the beginning of January, hopes to rescue the 129-year-old relic from liquidation.
The club had suffered financial woes since moving into an expensive new stadium in 2003.
Targeting the football club’s fans and followers, BuyDarlo yesterday launched a crowdfunding campaign on equity-based platform Crowdcube – offering 100% equity in the start-up to investors.
The company’s mission is to put ownership of the club entirely into the hands of the local community, by raising the funds to buy it from the administrators, with all the assets owned by the community.
Within 24 hours of launching its pitch, the start-up had already raised over £100,000 through 175 investors – 15% of its £750,000 target. The average value of investments at this stage was £220.
The crowdfunding campaign includes a restriction preventing any one investor from taking more than 15% equity, to ensure the concept of community ownership is maintained.
BuyDarlo, which has already paid for exclusive rights to buy Darlington FC, will use the investment – if successful – to form a new limited company in the name Darlington Football Club 1883 Limited.
The money will be raised in three tranches; with investors funding the first £250,000 offered two shares in the new club for every £100 invested, to help the start-up urgently acquire the club.
A further £250,000 will then be raised to clear the football club’s debts and a third investment of the same sum will be used to give the club a sustainable future.
Craig McKenna, founder of The Growth Academy, who is coordinating the crowdfunding campaign on behalf of BuyDarlo, explained:
“I’m a football fan and when I saw what was going on at Darlington, I thought this was an opportunity to try to help. I went to the club and pitched this idea to them. Eventually, after a lot of phonecalls, they agreed to go ahead.”
Of the initiative’s fundraising success so far, he added:
“It’s over and above what we thought it would be at this stage. From a town [like Darlington] that has got massive unemployment levels, it’s phenomenal.”