It was stated that the new club, to be called Barnet & Stevenage, would play in north London, with Borough's ground at Broadhall Way being vacated.

Mr Kleanthous told Times Sport: "There is no proposed merger with Stevenage. All that occurred was that in discussion with Borough chairman Victor Green he gave me the impression that Stevenage might close if he had difficulty in finding a buyer.

"I would be happy to see Stevenage survive, after all, I've had a dogfight to keep Barnet going, and don't want to see clubs die and Stevenage is a good club. If they were to shut down, then they could join with us to preserve their name. But it would not be a takeover. "

Barnet are still awaiting a decision from the Government on their planned move to Copthall Stadium.

"Because Underhill does not meet with the minimum requirement of a 6,000 crowd capacity, we've got a year to find another ground, or face expulsion from the Nationwide League," said Mr Kleanthous.

News that Stevenage are facing financial difficulties is a surprise. The sale of players and an FA Cup run, culminating in two clashes with Newcastle United, are believed to have brought windfalls totalling over £1million, and they are well supported, with gates among the largest in the Conference.

Following the report of a proposed merger between the two clubs, Stevenage chairman Victor Green had stated that if the takeover went ahead, Barnet would take over the name and assets of Stevenage, with the Bees buying some Stevenage players.

Phil Wallace, who quit as chairman of Boreham Wood FC recently, has been in negotiation with Victor Green for the purchase of Stevenage, and is favourite to succeed him as chairman, if he steps down.

Converted for the new archive on 30 June 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.