STEVENAGE ARE NOT GOING UP
Green could face League £40,000 ‘sweetener’ probe
Stevenage Boro’ lost the biggest match of their short history this week when a High Court judge kicked out their claim for Football League status.
And Boro chairman Victor Green could face a Football League probe into allegations that Stevenage asked for £40,000 in ‘sweeteners’ from Torquay towards the end of last season.
Boro wanted to take Torquay’s place in the Nationwide Third Division after winning the Vauxhall Conference.
But Boro chairman Victor Green was stunned as Mr Justice Carnwath, told the court: “Stevenage like all other clubs in the Conference and the league have been aware of the current criteria since May 1995.
“It would have been open to Stevenage to challenge the rules at the beginning of the season. The present challenge has come too late. I therefore dismiss the case.”
Green immediately said he would launch an appeal against the decisions, despite the club facing costs estimated at around £200,000, which are the club’s legal fees and half those of the Football League.
But there was terribly damaging evidence to emerge against Boro when the judge revealed in his summing up that Green and Boro manager Paul Fairclough had been involved in a plan to try to get Torquay to give Stevenage £40,000 in alleged ‘sweeteners’.
Green allegedly asked Torquay chairman Mike Bateson in March for £20,000 to persuade Green to retain his best player, for whom he had been offered a transfer fee of £100,000, said the Judge’s report.
“A similar conversation was held between the two managers in which it was suggested that Torquay would give £20,000 to be used for the Stevenage players if they (Boro) won,” said Judge Carnwath’s report.
“Mr Green drew attention to the fact that, as was then understood, Stevenage would not qualify for promotion even if they won the championship, whereas their next rivals Woking would.
“He suggested that Bateson might like to help Stevenage to ensure victory, thereby indirectly securing Torquay’s place in the Third Division.”
The exchanges, some of which were recorded, were not denied by Green, even though he accepted it was misleading when he was already contemplating a legal challenge. Torquay declined the proposals.
Immediately after Boro’s league dream had died the Football League said they would look at transcripts of the case and could not rule out passing them on to the Football Association, the game’s governing body, to investigate whether Green had brought the game into disrepute.
Stevenage had challenged the legality of the League’s demands that the club’s Broadhall Way stadium had to have a 6,000 capacity, including 2,000 seated, before a deadline last December.
That deadline has still not been met, even though extensive work has been going on at the ground and it meets all the criteria by the start of the season.
Article from the Stevenage Gazette on 26th July 1996