Chester City FC Must Die, Their Supporters Say

City Fans United

We commented in December on the sorry state of English Blue Square Premier club Chester City FC:

Poor Chester City, of England’s Football Conference. Imagine waking up the day after Christmas and finding that your club had appointed as Director of Football a man who had led another club (Halesowen) into severe financial peril and expulsion from the FA Cup, and who had received a year-long touchline ban after clashing with one of his own players? That’s what Chester fans discovered on Boxing Day, as they learned their former owner, Stephen Vaughan, had appointed Morrell Maison in that position.

This is the same Morrell Maison who only two months ago was arrested as part of a police investigation into fraud at Halesowen.

Vaughan himself is pretty much the opposite of a white knight. Only last month, he was banned from operating as a company director for eleven years for fraud while he ran Widnes Rugby Club. Following this, he became the first club owner to fail the Football Association’s Fit and Proper Persons test, and was told he had 21 days to divest of his majority stake in Chester City. Vaughan simply passed on the shares to his son, also called Stephen, to skirt the ruling. He claims the family are looking to sell their share.

This latest news caps off a terrible 2009 for Chester City. Relegated from the Football League at the end of last season, they were given a 25 point deduction to start the 2009-10 season for financial irregularities. They sit bottom of the Conference National league today, still on -3 points.

Six weeks on, and things have only gotten worse. This week, their game against Forest Green Rovers was called off when Chester could not field a team. The coach supposed to take the team to the game from their home, Deva Stadium, never left as neither the coach company nor the players had been paid. And then their home game against Wrexham was also called off, after the police pulled out over unpaid bills.

City fans have become so disaffected by the state of affairs that they boycotted their previous home game, with just 400 fans showing up. Yesterday their supporters’ trust, City Fans United, wrote an open letter calling for the club to be wound up and started over under democratic supporter ownership:

The current owner has forfeited the right to be associated with our great City’s once proud football team.  It is painful beyond measure to say this as loyal Chester City supporters but we must and we will start again.  The scale of debt incredibly incurred in such a short space of time renders the Club (Chester City Football Club 2004 Ltd) beyond redemption.  We are therefore calling on the football authorities to act swiftly and decisively to put the Club out of its miserable state.  Further delay will simply prolong the agony and will not result in anything positive.

We would like to reassure all Chester City Supporters that this is not the end – but the beginning of a community led football club that we can all be proud of.  We have already begun to talk to the Football authorities, the Council and teams that have been through similar experiences (such as AFC Telford, AFC Wimbledon and FC United of Manchester).  We are certain that a football club in Chester will rise again, better than ever.

We know it will be tough and we do not underestimate the hard work and hurdles that will need to be cleared to make it happen. We will need the support of everyone who has supported Chester in the past together with others who now might want to work with us to build a new Club from scratch.

Finally, we would like to reassure the FA and other football authorities that we are determined that the new football club in Chester will be run to the highest standards.  It will be inclusive and will fulfil an active role in the community.  It will be a great advert for football and everything positive about our national game.  We are more aware than anyone of how tarnished the reputation of Chester has become due to the way in which our club’s affairs have been conducted for a considerable period.

All we ask is the opportunity to put that right as soon as possible.

The indignity of failing to fulfil last night’s fixture at Forest Green followed by the announcement that we are unable to host our local rivals Wrexham on Sunday means that Chester City Football Club has effectively ceased to be. We have been tested to the limit as supporters and our support base has been driven down to a rump through incompetence and worse.

Supporters’ Direct, a national organisation that promotes responsible club governance, has followed this up with a statement to Football Association Lord Triesman calling for a reformed club to be set-up:

The news that Chester City FC will fail for the second time in two days to fulfil a fixture, this time at home to Wrexham this weekend, surely signals the end for the Club.

Whilst the end of Chester City FC in its current guise may seem like a tragedy it is not, and we call on The FA to do what it can to pull the plug and enable a new supporter-owned Club to rise from the ashes so the story has a happy ending. We have also written to The FA Chairman Lord Triesman today to express this view.

Indeed fans of Chester have known for months that it is only a matter of time, and have already en-masse made the decision to boycott matches, and back a reformed club.

The winding up of Chester City will provide Chester City fans and City Fans United (CFU), the Supporters Trust, with the chance to reform their football club as a democratically owned, community football club, owned by those who are dedicated to it instead of people who have little interest but their own, and one which causes the authorities to be proud, and not embarrassed.

Alongside Supporters Direct (SD), Trust-owned clubs AFC Telford United and FC United of Manchester have already provided support and guidance to CFU to develop their vision and their practical plans for the Club, and when the inevitable end comes, we will all be stepping up this support to ensure that fans of Chester have the best possible start to this new part of their journey.

The news that Chester City FC will fail for the second time in two days to fulfil a fixture, this time at home to Wrexham this weekend, surely signals the end for the Club.

If this happens — and a new “democratically owned, community football club, owned by those who are dedicated to it instead of people who have little interest but their own” is indeed established — the better good for supporters of Chester City FC could actually come out of this mess.

Today, Chester were suspended from the Blue Square Premier and given seven days to explain themselves. It would be better for all if the club was put out of its misery in its present condition, and the supporters given a chance to build a new structure that can last for the greater good of the club.

EDIT: Read this by Two Hundred Percent on the “truth of the debt”. Truly staggering.

Comments are closed.