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Friday, 31 January, 2003, 15:45 GMT
Vale deny Potters merger
Vale Park - the home of Port Vale
Vale have been in administration since December
Port Vale secretary Bill Lodey has ruled out the possibility of a merger with city rivals Stoke.

And he added that the prospect of groundsharing at the Britannia Stadium was extremely unlikely and would only be considered as a last resort.

"The possibility of being merged with Stoke City to form one club would destroy the proud history of both clubs," said Lodey.

The financial merits of having only one football ground in Stoke-on-Trent are overwhelming

Vale administrator Bob Young
"And it would destroy what must be the most fierce rivalry between two sets of supporters, anywhere in the UK.

"The idea of moving from Vale Park to the Britannia Stadium must be something that could only be considered as a last resort," Lodey told the club's official website.

Lodey was reacting to comments from Vale administrator Bob Young, who refused to deny that Stoke's parent company , Stoke Holding SA, are one of four parties to have submitted a takeover package.

"I have received four offers for Port Vale," said Young, who has been looking after Vale since they went into administration in December.

"Three parties have gone public and none of them is Stoke City.

"I have also received an offer from a London solicitor on behalf of a client who has insisted on anonymity.

"I cannot confirm whether that is or is not anything to do with Stoke Holding SA.

"I am aware Stoke City have issued a statement saying they have not submitted a bid and as such that is true, but that is as much as I can say.

"I'm not prepared to breach any confidentiality."

And Young had also admitted that a groundsharing agreement between Stoke and Port Vale would make sense.

"The financial merits of having only one football ground in Stoke-on-Trent are overwhelming," said Young.

"It makes perfect financial sense for any new owners of Port Vale to sell Vale Park to a property developer and negotiate a ground-share agreement with Stoke City."

But Vale director Andrew Belfield backed Lodey and urged fans to resist any moves towards a merger.

"I am very shocked and totally opposed," he said.

"The matter is in the hands of the Football League, but I would like fans to make as many protestations as possible to ensure football continues to be played at Vale Park."

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