Dismissing the claim,
(1) The approach to review should in principle be the same as that of the High Court. An arbitrator should show deference to the specialist expertise of the sporting regulators. However, such deference would not be appropriate where as here the decision under challenge was not one that required or involved the application of specialist knowledge.
(2) The Appeal Board was clearly right to conclude that both the club’s proposals involved ground-sharing. Its conclusion that this was for the purpose of obtaining promotion or avoiding relegation or both was a rational and lawful one.
(3) The Club was right to assert that the Appeal Board had not considered whether to dispense with the prohibition on ground-sharing. However, on their proper construction the FA Rules did not provide Board with power to grant such a dispensation.
(4) The complaints of procedural unfairness, failures to address relevant matters and inconsistency of approach were ill-founded.
(5) The FA had not given the club any legitimate expectation that it would be allowed to ground-share.
(6) Since the club was not engaged in professional sport, it was doubtful that the restraint of trade doctrine was engaged. If it was the Board’s decision merely applied the Rules; if there was a legal vice it must lie in the Rules. These were part of a general regulatory system for which the FA offered reasonable general justification. The burden of proving a competition law challenge in this context lay on the challenger, and fairness to others affected had to be considered. The club had not shown that the rule was contrary to common law. The EU competition law point was raised very late, to the prejudice of the FA, without reasonable excuse. Permission to pursue it was refused.