CONFERENCE clubs have voted with their feet to ensure fair play in the league this season by giving support to two ground-breaking initiatives.

Representatives from both Farnborough Town and Aldershot Town were among a large gathering at the annual Conference AGM in Blackpool at the weekend, where Aldershot were officially welcomed and introduced to life in the top-flight.

But it was the vote on two key issues which made the headlines - a move which goes a long way in ensuring that teams compete on a level playing field this campaign.

First they introduced a "sporting sanction" whereby clubs who go into administration will now be hit with a massive 12 point deduction.

Eighteen clubs from the 22-strong membership voted for the proposals - including Boro and the Shots - while two were against and two abstained.

The rule change, which was balked by Football League clubs recently, shouldn't affect either of our sides, but clubs like Scarborough, Hereford and Halifax need to watch out having already previously been in administration, while relegated clubs Shrewsbury Town and Exeter need also be careful.

The second proposal saw unanimous support again towards a squad budgeting system where no club will be able to spend more than 65 per cent of their turnover on players' wages.

Clubs have to submit their books for the last two seasons, but seeing as Farnborough have had a dramatic change in their regime in that time, the Cherrywood Road club have been named as one of three "special cases" by the Conference, following in the footsteps of Margate and Northwich, who are both ground-sharing.

Any club found guilty of a serious breach of this rule will face up to a three-point deduction and up to a fine of £10,000.

The trip to Blackpool proved a memorable one for Shots chairman Karl Prentice and director Aidan Whelan, who were given a round of applause by the audience in recognition of their work in guiding the club back up the footballing ladder.

First up to congratulate and offer a hand of friendship was the head of the new Exeter City regime, who apologised for the FA Cup debacle of 1999 and welcomed the Shots with open arms.

Mr Prentice said: "We were really made to feel at home, the welcome and greetings were stronger than I imagined and it makes you more eager to kick the season off.

"The two major issues weren't really an issue to us because the 65 per cent capping figure is no constraint for us and we have no intention of going into administration.

"We have worked hard to get our ship in order and we expect other clubs to do the same."

Farnborough Town General Secretary Vince Williams added: "The decisions were made for the good of football so that we all start the season on a level playing field.

"Obviously we are running a much tighter ship now but with these penalties in place it makes us even more determined to get things right off the pitch under the new regime."