Football; Chairman threatens to close down Port Vale

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Port Vale's First Division fixture at Wolverhampton today could be their last in the Football League, the club's chairman, Bill Bell, warned yesterday.

Bell, the car dealer who owns 80 per cent of Vale's shares, put the Potteries club and all their players up for sale following protests against him after Wednesday's home defeat by Crystal Palace. He said: "At the moment there is no one coming forward to buy the club. If no one comes in during the next seven days, I would think Port Vale will not remain as a football club."

During the night, a van owned by Bell was set alight by intruders at Vale Park and pushed on to the playing area. Police said they could not rule out a link between the fire and the chairman's decision to sell the club.

Vale are understood to have debts of pounds 800,000, but have risen from the old Fourth Division and more than doubled their gates during Bell's decade at the helm.

Brighton's future is now looking even more uncertain after Portsmouth announced yesterday they will not allow the Seagulls to share their ground next season, citing their own development plans and what they called "other regulatory constraints."

Fratton Park has been the Third Division club's first choice for a temporary home ever since the Goldstone ground was sold last year. Brighton must find a new home before next May as the Goldstone developers, Chartwell Land, have made it clear they will take possession at the end of the season.