Thursday Feb 16, 2012

The Northern Echo has reported on Saturday's visitors to the Impact Arena Darlington, and their continuing struggles both on and off the field.

"[Darlington manager] Craig Liddle has expressed his gratitude that Darlington remain in business - but he has warned of tough times ahead as the club remains in administration.

The go-ahead was given yesterday to an initiative that gives supporters the opportunity to buy a stake in the club with the aim being to raise £750,000 by the end of the season.

While the battle to save the club continues, a relegation fight on the pitch is ongoing with Tuesday's defeat at Southport representing a seventh successive game without a win.

The 2-0 loss left Darlington level on points with the relegation places ahead of Saturday's visit to third-bottom Alfreton.

The XI chosen by Craig Liddle was arguably his strongest available, but they were second-best at Haigh Avenue and remaining in administration means interim manager is still struggling to bring in reinforcements.

Tuesday's game saw eight of the 16 made up by youth team players while Ryan Bowman is the only senior striker at the club.

But due to the club's financial status, Liddle says that the Football Conference have blocked the recruitment of various players including a striker that he had lined up to make his debut against Southport.

Liddle said: "We're going to have to go with what we've got for the rest of the season which is going to be a huge challenge for me and the club.

"We had a centre-forward lined up and the money in place, but the Conference being the Conference, their take on it is 'what happens if he scores a hat-trick?' My answer is that's exactly what I want him to do.

"They feel it would be unfair if we brought a striker in that scored a hat-trick. Bizarre.

"To me, what would be the point in bringing a striker in if he wasn't going to score goals? That's why you bring him in.

"The striker wants to come and the club are allowing him to come, but the Conference have said no because he's not a youth team player."

"They have to be a youth team player or out of contract senior player. So if someone can find me an out of contract player that scores goals then let me know because there's not many about.

"If you can score goals you're already in someone's side or you're in a reserve side waiting for your chance, not a free agent."

Furthermore, Liddle says that the Conference have dictated that right-back Liam Bagnall must return to Sunderland as soon as Paul Arnison is available.

That means Arnison, who is hoping to play on Saturday as he recovers from a calf strain, is unable to build up his fitness gradually.

Liddle said: "Liam can only stay until Arni is fit. Arni has a 50-50 chance of coming back on Saturday, and when he is back Liam has got to go straight back to Sunderland, that's the Conferences rules.

"So we haven't got time to nurse people back to fitness and give them 45 minutes or so, once they're available you've got to chuck them back in.

"They aren't even allowed in the same squad. I couldn't have Arni on the bench because they can't be in the same 16.

"So the minute Arni is back Liam will go back to Sunderland."

Fans' groups, businesses and individuals are being urged to buy shares to help save Quakers.

Liddle said: "I'm really grateful that we've got this far because an amazing amount of work has been put in.

"It was this or nothing which is why I think everyone has to stick together and fight as one.

"Even if the worst happens and we were relegated, at least we've got a football club to be relegated because it's not long ago, when we went to Barrow, that that wasn't going to be the case.

"It doesn't make my job any easier.

"I know we can't turn things around overnight, but the likelihood is that it's going to be administration until the end of the season and the restrictions that the league is putting on us is making the job impossible."


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