David Conn: Reynolds saga leads Darlington to workhouse

The Dickensian tragedy which is the George Reynolds saga looks to be unfolding to its hubristic conclusion. The man with the mansion who spent £5.2m of his Rich List-sized fortune originally saving Darlington Football Club, then £14m building a 27,000-seat stadium which he named after himself, will be reduced in court next month to facing a bankruptcy petition.

Reynolds, who grew up in a tough orphanage, turned to crime, then later made a fortune in chipboard, admits to having embarked on the Darlo venture partly to garner some love which he never had before. He has spent everything he had on the club and on the George Reynolds Arena, whose expanses this season have rattled with crowds, on average, of around 4,500.

When banks would not lend him money, he borrowed £4m to finish the stadium from the moneylenders Melvyn Laughton, Sean Verity and Stewart Davies, who, as The Sterling Consortium, have previously lent to other football clubs in trouble, including Chesterfield and Barnsley. The £4m loan to Darlington is understood to have charged 15 per cent annual interest, was secured on the stadium, and supported by a personal guarantee from Reynolds. In December, with Darlington unable to pay its debts, Reynolds put the club into administration. His own company, George Reynolds UK, is in liquidation. Sterling have called on his personal guarantee, but he has not paid the £4m, so they they issued a bankruptcy petition, which Reynolds is due to face in Durham County Court on 14 April.

Reynolds, whose public mix of aggression and indignant self-justification gradually lost him the fans' support, is not displaying vulnerability. "Do you know what? I'm not bothered," he told me. He said his lifestyle would not change if he were made bankrupt because his daughter had cars and houses, and he would not lose all his money: "They have to find it all first."

He said bankruptcy would free him from the work and worry: "I'm going about with a smile on my face." With no firm offer in for the club itself, which owes around £20m, the administrator, David Field, said that The Sterling Consortium were increasingly likely to take the club over themselves, as the only way of recovering any of their money.

The Supporters Trust, which has been working with a local consortium, still hopes to be part of a solution, but £6m is required to pay off Sterling and 10p in the pound to other creditors, most prominently Reynolds himself, a lot of money for all but eccentrics to find for Darlington FC.

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Radamel Falcao
footballManchester United agree loan deal for Monaco striker Falcao
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Voices
A man shoots at targets depicting a portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a shooting range in the center of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv
voicesIt's cowardice to pretend this is anything other than an invasion
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
News
i100
Life and Style
tech

Apple agrees deal with Visa on contactless payments

Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor