It is with deep sadness that I need to inform you that I am stepping down from my role of volunteer Director of Darlington 1883 Ltd, with immediate effect. Some of you will know that I suffered a mini-stroke recently, this event was a wake-up call for me and was life changing and since that time I have drastically changed my lifestyle. Removing unnecessary stress by retiring from any employment was one of the changes I have made (alongside healthier eating, which maybe was noticeable to some!)
Volunteering for DFC has, particularly over recent months, become much more demanding, both in time and pressure, than myself and my family ever envisaged or imagined it would be. It is all encompassing and has no limits on the demands on me. Protecting (and I must re-iterate and emphasise that this considered action is a preventative measure and by no means a reaction to any singular event) my health must be my priority and this is the only way for me to regain some normality and sense of balance in my life. There was never going to be a good time to make this decision. I will never be able to explain how hard this decision has been for me. Many sleepless nights worrying about everything to do with the football club, has given me quite a bit of thinking time, and the time has come where I have to consider the risks to my health and longevity, and the effect this is having on my family.
2016 will be the most exciting time in the Club’s recent history, of that I have no doubt! Significantly, and in terms of succession planning, I have ensured that galvanisation between the football club and the Darlington Football Club Supporters Group (DFCSG) is now complete, and as the Corporate Director of Darlington 1883 Ltd and majority shareholder, the DFCSG is now in the best position to maximise its position fully on the Board of Directors and represent the views of fans. The Directors of the DFCSG, led by John Tempest, will be the strategic driving force of DFC moving forward and the club is truly in the safe hands of the fans as we always wanted it to be. Harry Dunn, Club Secretary and David Watson, General Manager, will maintain the footballing operational links between the management, coaches and players to the Board of Directors.
John Tempest has been very actively fulfilling his role of Corporate Director of Darlington 1883 Ltd for the last four months, he has also been instrumental in the advanced agreements with Darlington Rugby Football Club and the return to Darlington, and I know John will see this through to its completion in the very near future. Overall, I’m content that all of the hard work to get us to this stage will be carried on in the same way, the return to Darlington process will not be affected at all, and the outcome we’ve all been working for isn’t very far away.
John and the DFCSG Board will of course always require help and support and I again urge anyone with time to give and the appropriate skills to contact John to discuss this opportunity further. With many hands the job of fan ownership becomes manageable, without additional resource going forward the workload will always land on the few, which makes DFC more vulnerable.
As everyone knows, the Club will launch a major fund raising activity very shortly. The full background and context to this fundraising initiative has been well documented recently and can be found in the Annual Review, Directors’ Report and Financial Statements for the year ended 30 June 2015, which was discussed with shareholders at the Club’s AGM on 5th November 2015 and also discussed with supporters at the Fans’ Forum on 11th November 2015. As a fan owned Club I’m confident that all supporters will dig-deep to support the fund raising objectives and reach the targets which have been set.
Finally, I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks to every volunteer, everyone connected with Darlington Football Club and the DFC Supporters Group, for their help and support during my voluntary time with DFC.
I am a fan, I have always been a fan and I will always be a fan. Keep the faith and get behind our Club and the DFCSG, I certainly will be!
*Note from Ray Simpson — a statement from director John Tempest follows this announcement