Stevenage court battle

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The Independent Online
Football League ground regulations, which are preventing the Vauxhall Conference champions, Stevenage, from moving into the Third Division, were attacked in the High Court yesterday as an "unreasonable restraint of trade".

Criteria requiring the club to provide a minimum spectator capacity of 6,000, including 2,000 seats, by 31 December 1995 - the end of the year preceding promotion - were "simply ridiculous", said Nicholas Stewart QC, for Stevenage.

And a requirement that the club must produce audited accounts showing a surplus of assets over current liabilities as at 31 May 1995, was far too demanding, he said. Some clubs already in the Third Division did not come up to that standard and yet the League did not take action against them.

Refurbishment and expansion of the club's Broadhall Way ground to give it grade A status is well advanced, and the accounts show a surplus from an injection of money by the club's chairman, Victor Green.

Stevenage are seeking an injunction banning the League from refusing them admission to the Third Division and, if necessary, a mandatory order requiring the League to offer them membership. The case is being closely watched by Torquay, who face demotion if Stevenage are allowed in. The hearing continues today.