RUSHMOOR Council hit back this week at claims that it refuses to support Farnborough Football Club.

In a statement it said that nothing could be further from the truth. "The council currently gives the club 50 per cent relief from rates," it said.

It has also provided a significant amount of advice on security and safety, and has carried out resurfacing work at the club's car park.

In addition the club has to pay only a limited rent on its council-owned Cherrywood Road ground, because most of it is met by rental from a mobile telephone mast. "A deal brokered by the council," says the statement.

The row has been sparked by club chairman Graham Westley's request to dispose of the Cherrywood Ground and invest the proceeds in building a new stadium near the M3.

He said such a move was essential if he was to achieve his ambition of taking the club from the Conference into the football league.

But according to the statement, the council was unhappy with his proposals because they were not backed by a business plan.

Neither could it reach agreement on how the proceeds of the Cherrywood sale should be shared.

The ground is a council asset, and therefore local taxpayers would expect to reap some benefit.

However, according to the statement, the council is still willing for part of the receipts to be used to fund a new stadium, provided it is confident the club has a sound future.

Councillor David Clifford, leisure and promotion portfolio holder, said last Friday: "We will require written contractual agreements if the council is to put its money into any venture.

"I hope we can work with the club to our mutual benefit and that they are able to stay locally."

The council's statement coincided with the news that Mr Westley's latest plan to move the club to Kingston, and merge with Kingstonian, had collapsed.

He investigated this possibility after failing to reach agreement with the council over building a new stadium.