INTERNET addresses that might be home for a new football team in Northwich have been bought by a firm fighting legal battles for Northwich Victoria.

Football Factors, hired by Vics owner Jim Rushe to represent the club in a ongoing dispute with the Football Association and the Northern Premier League, registered on Friday a number of websites including the term 1874 Northwich.

The name was picked by fans as their favourite in a poll the previous day.

“It’s just sharp business practice on my part,” said Graham Bean, who runs the Yorkshire-based company.

“I wondered if those behind the new club had bought the rights and discovered that they hadn’t, so I now own the names.”

A member of Northwich Victoria Supporters Trust, a 200-strong group that voted a fortnight ago to start its own version of Vics, spotted that, and had been registered by Bean.

Asked to comment by the Guardian, trust chairman Paul Stockton said that he would discuss the situation with board members at a meeting later this week.

Fans have argued already that the former FA compliance officer intends to hold on to the domain name – a title that identifies a website – simply to frustrate them.

Bean says that is not true.

He added: “This has got nothing to do with Jim Rushe or Northwich Victoria. Neither has any involvement in what I have done.

“I’m open to offers to sell them.”

Early in the internet’s history, many web operators bought generic domain names only to be challenged later on by companies wanting the rights to them.

It is not known if the trust will do the same in this case.