R (Sky Blue Sports & Leisure Ltd) v Coventry City Council  EWCA Civ 453 (CA): SB, football club owners, appealed against the High Court's refusal of their application to quash the Council's decision to make a loan of £14.4m to a company that operated an arena in which the council was a 50% shareholder. The loan enabled the company to pay off its bank obligations at a discount, and ensured the continuation of the sublease of the arena. SB argued that the loan approved by the Council was state aid under Art. 107 TFEU and so was unlawful as it had not been notified to the Commission. The High Court ruled that the effect of EU case law was that the Council was afforded a wide margin of judgment when making an entrepreneurial investment decision. He "firmly concluded" that the loan fell clearly within the permitted ambit and that it was not state aid.
The court held, dismissing the appeal, that the court should proceed with great caution and only interfere with the judge's evaluation if it fell outside the bounds of reasonable decision-making. SB had not come close to demonstrating that the judge reached an impermissible conclusion. There was ample material upon the basis of which he could properly conclude that the loan was lawful. (13 May 2016)