All Stevenage fans at Torquay now

Non-League notebook
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The Independent Online
Non-League notebook

RUPERT METCALF

The supporters and employees of Torquay United are taking an increasing interest in the fortunes of Stevenage Borough, the GM Vauxhall Conference leaders. In their current position, 12 points adrift at the bottom of the Endsleigh League, Torquay need all the help they can get - and success for Stevenage represents their best hope of staying in the Third Division.

The problem for Stevenage is that, like Macclesfield last season and Kidderminster the year before, if they win the Conference they will not be promoted to the Football League because their stadium did not meet League requirements before the deadline at the end of last year. The main League requirements are a capacity of 6,000 and 1,000 seats under cover.

"It's completely unfair," Victor Green, the Stevenage chairman, said yesterday. "We still have not had a satisfactory reason from the Football League for the deadline being 31 December when we can give a concrete guarantee that our ground will be ready by the start of next season." Their Broadhall Way ground is owned by the local council, which is investing over pounds 1m in improving the stadium.

"The League is taking away the basic ingredient of sport by stopping achievement," Green said. "Promotion and relegation are what football is all about." His club have a three-point advantage and a game in hand over second-placed Macclesfield.

The Stevenage chairman added that three clubs - Barnet, Darlington and Rochdale - do not fulfil the League's ground requirements. "They have a further two seasons to put things right," he complained, "unlike us." Like Macclesfield and Kidderminster in the recent past, however, his protests may fall on deaf ears.

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