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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 March 2006, 14:10 GMT
Ex-chairman loses Racecourse bid
The Racecourse, Wrexham. Photo: Ted Blair
The Racecourse Ground hosts football and rugby matches
Former chairman of Wrexham Football Club Alex Hamilton has failed to seize control of its Racecourse ground.

The Appeal Court in London has ruled that the stadium must remain in the hands of the club's administrators.

The sale of the club will now go ahead and the administrators said the ruling was a "momentous day" in its history.

They said they were hopeful of a sale before 3 June when the club faces being thrown out of the Football League if it is still in administration.

Joint administrator Steve Williams said the ruling on Tuesday signalled the end of litigation over ownership of the Racecourse and urged everyone interested in buying the club to now come forward with their business case.

He confirmed that there were a "handful" of offers already on the table, but would not be drawn on who had made them.

It may have taken time and dedication but justice has been done
Bruce Clapton, Wrexham Supporters Trust

Mr Hamilton, Wrexham's chairman from May to October 2004, had challenged a High Court decision last October to give ownership of the stadium to the administrators.

He took over as Wrexham chairman from his former business associate Mark Guterman in 2004.

By the end of 2004, the club had gone into administration with debts of more than 4m.

The Football League imposed a 10-point penalty on the club and in May 2005 Wrexham were relegated to League Two.

Last October Birmingham High Court decided that Mr Hamilton's company CrucialMove had improperly acquired the freehold of the ground.

Alex Hamilton, Wrexham FC owner
Alex Hamilton originally lost his case for ownership last October

The hearing was told CrucialMove had negotiated to buy the stadium with plans to develop the site for housing or commercial use.

But Mr Hamilton launched an appeal and on Tuesday three judges dismissed it, saying he "did not act in good faith" in a transaction critical to the club's future and plans to realise the ground's development potential.

But the judges acknowledged there was "some evidence" that Mr Hamilton and his joint venture partner, Mark Guterman, thought the club would "obtain a benefit" from the fulfilment of development plans they called "The Wrexham project".

However, the court also heard the stadium will be subject to a legal "charge" in CrucialMove's favour amounting to the 300,000 it paid for the freehold of the ground and other costs.

'Much-needed boost'

Wrexham manager Denis Smith said the ruling would give a much-needed boost to the players and paid tribute to their loyalty during the most difficult of times for the club.

Wrexham fans have also welcomed the decision.

Supporters trust chairman Bruce Clapton said: "It may have taken time and dedication but justice has been done.

"The ground is now back in Wrexham's hands and this can only help in the fight to save the club."

But Mr Clapton said everyone must understand that the fight to save the club was still not over and the trust would continue to work closely "and do our best to move things forward as quickly as we can".


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