Football: League extends its deadline

Non-League notebook
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GM Vauxhall Conference clubs are to be given another three months to ensure their grounds are up to the required standard to gain acceptance to the Football League, which has extended the deadline for the Conference champions to meet its stipulations from New Year's Eve until 1 April.

In the past three seasons the Conference winners - Kidderminster Harriers, Macclesfield Town and Stevenage Borough - have been denied promotion because they failed to improve their grounds by 31 December. The new April deadline was prompted by comments made by the judge in the unsuccessful High Court case brought by Stevenage against the League, when they protested against their exclusion.

Chris Hull, a League spokesman, said: "The High Court found in favour of the Football League, but we listened to the comments made by the judge and felt it necessary to revisit the rules and amend them accordingly. The proviso that the assets of clubs coming into the Football League must outweigh their liabilities for them to gain acceptance into the League will no longer be in place.

"However, the League will still be looking at clubs' finances... to make sure they are in reasonable health and not in receivership."

The Kidderminster manager, Graham Allner, said: "It's a move in the right direction but, as time goes on, I think the rule will become more irrelevant because more and more clubs in the Conference will get their grounds up to standard as a matter of course."

At the top of the Conference, Kidderminster, whose Aggborough ground is now adequate for the Football League, enjoy an 11-point lead after a 1-0 win at second-placed Macclesfield on Tuesday.

In the third round of the FA Carlsberg Vase tomorrow, Stamford will have plenty of Wembley experience on their side when they travel to Hinckley Athletic. The Lincolnshire side can field Dave Bennett and Mickey Gynn, who played for Coventry City in their 1987 FA Cup final win over Tottenham - plus David Speedie, who performed at the national stadium for Scotland against England the previous year.

Speedie, the former Chelsea and Coventry striker, plays in midfield for the Uhlsport United Counties League club, who also have two former Peterborough men: Milton Graham and Trevor Quow. Graham is in good form up front, having scored a hat-trick in last weekend's 3-1 win over Eynesbury.

Stamford won the Vase in 1980 and were runners-up in '76 and '84. The biggest Vase crowd could be at Fairfax Park, though, where Bridgwater entertain their Somerset rivals, Taunton.