Why Sainsbury’s could hold the key to Chris Lines’ future

Why Sainsbury’s could hold the key to Chris Lines’ future

A legal dispute against the Sainsbury’s supermarket could bizarrely hold the key to whether Bristol Rovers attempt to sign on loan midfielder Chris Lines on a permanent deal.

Lines still has a year left on his contract at Vale Park but his future in Burslem looks insecure after Rob Page sanctioned a loan move to Bristol Rovers last season.

His future in Burslem looks insecure after Rob Page sanctioned a loan move to Bristol Rovers last season…

Page seemed to indicate that Vale felt that Lines could be replaced by other, less-expensive players and said that loanee Tommy O’Sullivan had “just as much quality but cost far less from a wages point of view.”

If Lines and his team mates are successful in bringing Bristol Rovers back to the Football League via the play-offs, it is widely expected that Rovers will launch a permanent bid for the midfielder.

Lines has been a success during his loan spell, scoring in their crucial play-off semi-final win over Forest Green Rovers and he has family connections with Rovers that would make a move a strong possibility.

However, the Bristol side would need to match Lines’ League One wages and this is where the potential Sainsbury’s stumbling block comes into play.

Rovers were planning to fund the move by selling the Memorial Stadium land to Sainsbury’s for a £30m fee…

Rovers are committed to a new 21,700-seat stadium in Stoke Gifford but were planning to fund the move by selling the Memorial Stadium land to Sainsbury’s for a £30m fee.

Since the deal was agreed, Sainsbury’s have reported a drop in profits and have been moving away from building new large supermarkets. The chain is believed to want to walk away from the deal to build a big new store on the stadium site.

However,  the football club, which is relying on the deal to finance much of its planned new stadium, believes Sainsbury’s is contractually obliged to go ahead with the purchase of their current ground.

A hearing is expected to begin in the next few days. Should Rovers lose, it will put their new stadium funding in serious jeopardy and any marquee signings, such as that of Chris Lines, would no doubt also be put on the backburner.