Aim 4 Long Grass

February 13, 2015



Mike Coupe, the CEO of J Sainsbury plc, is the key decision-maker within the company since 11 July 2014.

On Monday 9th February 2015 at a contested hearing in the Chancery Division Mr Justice Roth ordered that a claim for breach of contract brought by Bristol Rovers football club against Sainsbury’s Supermarkets should be expedited on the basis that the claim had an objective urgency which justified it “jumping the queue”.   The expedited trial will take place in mid-May of this year.

David Matthias Q.C. and George Mackenzie represented Bristol Rovers at the hearing, and sought the order for expedition with detailed directions to facilitate a speedy trial.

In 2011 Bristol Rovers contracted to sell Sainsbury’s the site of their football stadium for a superstore-led mixed use redevelopment. It was envisaged that the funds from the sale – some £30 million – would enable the club to construct a new state-of-the-art stadium on the campus of the University of the West of England.


UWE Bristol Stadium is easily identified on the bottom left within the UWE Campus at Frenchay

Bristol Rovers claims that, in breach of the contract, Sainsbury’s failed to use all reasonable endeavours to ensure that a satisfactory planning permission for the proposed superstore was granted and acted in bad faith in respect of their contractual obligations towards the club. As a result it seems clear that the delivery of the new stadium will be a significantly more complex and expensive enterprise than had originally been anticipated.

The judge also ordered Sainsbury’s to undertake an onerous disclosure exercise which, he ruled, must be completed within the next 7 weeks. Sainsbury’s had argued that the exercise could not be accomplished within less than 3 months and indicated that they would not be ready for trial before 2016.

Not suprisingly the case has already generated significant public interest. The Bristol Post reported on Monday’s hearing here:

David Matthias Q.C. and George Mackenzie appeared for Bristol Rovers and were instructed directly by Jim Tarzey of Pegasus Planning. They were assisted by  Burges Salmon who are also instructed on behalf of Bristol Rovers.

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