Fears raised over Darlington’s eligibility for National League North play-offs

Pic: Stuart Boulton

FEARS have been raised over whether Darlington would be able to compete in the National League North play-offs if they finish in the top five.

Rumours circulated over the weekend that the Quakers might not be allowed to take part in the end of season showdown as their Blackwell Meadows home may fall short of the minimum requirements.

Darlo moved into the ground, which they share with Darlington Rugby Club, at the end of last year after it was passed fit to host Step 2 football.

All National League North and South sides require a Grade B from the Football Association to compete in the division.

However, higher requirements are needed if you wish to win promotion to Non-League’s top tier or compete in the play-offs.

For example, only 250 covered seats are required to gain the Grade B but 500 are needed by March 31 if you wish to try and win promotion.

The FA’s ground grading rules state: “To qualify for promotion to the National League by winning the respective North/South Championship and for the club to participate in the promotion play-off matches, the ground must achieve a Category “B” Grading together with 500 seats under cover by 31st March in each season. These seats may be in two stands, with no stand having less than 100 seats.”

Darlington, currently fifth in the National League North, have released a statement confirming that they are discussing the matter with the National League.

It read: “The board of Darlington FC is aware of rumours concerning whether Blackwell Meadows meets the grading requirements to allow the club to complete in the National League play-offs.

“Discussions are continuing with the National League and fans will be informed as soon as a decision is taken by the League. The club will make no further comment until then on any of its media outlets.”

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  1. Steve Caulcott

    We had that problem some years ago. Chester, who were then a league team, shared Moss Rose while their new ground was built. We won the conference , but not allowed into the league ‘cos our ground was not up to standard!

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