Footballing ups and downs at Stevenage

Court 57 at London's Royal Courts of Justice has become a focus of football attention over the past fortnight.

Mr Justice Carnwath has been engaged on a hearing which could challenge the way the Football League manages promotion.

Judgment on the case, which is expected some time in August or September, could affect league rules which lay down ground and financial criteria which must be met before a club can be promoted.

At the centre of the case are Stevenage Borough Football Club and Torquay United, although Torquay are no longer a party to the action.

Stevenage won the Vauxhall Conference League last year which should have resulted in their promotion to the third division of the Football League at the expense of Torquay, who finished bottom of the third.

But, because Stevenage did not meet ground and financial criteria and could not comply with deadlines to introduce changes necessary to meet those criteria, the league refused them promotion.

Now Stevenage are challenging that decision and seeking an order that the league should allow them to go up.

Nicholas Stewart QC for Stevenage told the judge that Stevenage was the third club to have won the conference and be refused entry to the third division on the basis they failed to meet requirements.

But he branded the combination of league requirements as ridiculous.

"The ground requirements and the deadline are excessively demanding," he said.

Stewart said the regulations prevent movement between the league and the Conference, and restraint of trade and restrictive trade practice laws are being brought into the case.