If you follow football over in England, or just follow me on twitter, you'll have probably noticed over the last couple of months or so that Darlington Football Club have come very close to completely going out of business. There's details of how they got into this mess here, which I wrote the last time they had a crisis, which was about a year ago, sigh. The story's still the same (egomaniacal former chairman left behind a huge stadium which has been a financial drain ever since, is the short version) but now they've finally run out of rich guys willing to put money in and so are now aiming to become a community owned club, and are selling shares to whoever wants them in order to come up with the money needed to stay afloat. These shares come with a vote in annual elections to appoint the board to run the club, invites to exclusive events, exclusive newsletters, and your name on a plaque to be erected at the club.
Obviously clubs getting into this situation is nothing new, even as I write this, just in the U.K, Kettering Town, Portsmouth, Rangers and Port Vale are in serious financial difficulties. So why should you care about Darlington? For me it's personal, they're the team I spent about 10 years watching before I moved to Canada, probably about 250 games home and away, through relegations, promotions, some great games and a whole lot of crap ones. I've bought my own share, but feel like I need to do more, hence this appeal. For you? Well aside from the fact that they're not just asking for donations with nothing but a brief warm fuzzy feeling in return, but are actually giving the chance to own a small part of the club, there's a few other reasons I can give you.
First up, if you're reading this there's a good chance you're a fan of Canadian football. Did you enjoy the 2000 Gold Cup, and Jason de Vos' career as a whole? Well, Darlington is the club that gave Jason his break into the U.K. It's where he developed from a Montreal Impact player that an English 4th division team was willing to take a chance on, into a Canadian international who Dundee United paid pretty much a million dollars for.
Maybe you're into Jackie Robinson style social justice issues. If so, the world's first professional black player, Arthur Wharton, he got his start at Darlington. Aside from that it's just your average club with 129 years of history in the lower leagues of England, currently in the Blue Square Premier League.
The overall goal is £750,000 with individual shares being sold for £100 (roughly $160.00 Canadian). After a big initial rush, investment has died down a bit, and they're now at about £300,000 and now it has been worked out for overseas investors to buy shares. Obviously £100 is a lot of money to be putting up, but if you can do that, click here, go ahead, (click on updates for help with investing from overseas) thank you and congratulations on YOUR new football club.
If it is a bit rich for your blood, well I'm here to give you a way to help out and maybe end up with a share anyway. Send me an E.M.T at firstname.lastname@example.org with whatever you can and want to spare and leave a comment in the comments section or @wakingthered on twitter, and please mention within the E.M.T your username here or twitter name so I know who's who. I won't actually cash anything until there's enough money for at least one share. Hopefully there'll be enough for a few shares. Anyone who can donate enough for a full share would get that share, then I'll hold a draw of all contributors to allocate the others depending on how much money is raised. Darlington gets closer to what they need to survive, we all get to feel good about helping out, and maybe you end up as a part owner of a football club.
If you can't contribute, even spreading the word on twitter, facebook or wherever else would be much appreciated. Come on Canada, let's buy a football club.