Vaughan’s Chester & The Authorities: Can You Guess Who Blinked First?

17 By Ian  |   The Ball  |   August 13, 2009  |     40

So, Steven Vaughan wins and the game of football dies a little more inside. The FA have decided to back the Football Conference and have given Vaughan’s Chester the right to start the new season, in flagrant contravention of rule 2.7 of the Conference’s own constitution and awarded the club a licence to play football for this season. It has been a busy week for the Football Conference and the FA. At the end of last week, the Football Conference announced unilaterally that Vaughan’s Chester would be given the go ahead for the club start the new season, even though the FA still hadn’t ratified that they had an actual licence to play. The FA stepped in at this point and told the Football Conference in no uncertain terms that their match against Grays Athletic would not go ahead until they had granted their permission for it to do so, and the match was called off, as was Tuesday night’s match against Gateshead.

At the start of this week, the Conference put the matter to a vote amongst all twenty-three other BSP clubs, who voted (very much in the way that turkeys are not universally known for their tendency to vote for Christmas) unanimously that the club could start the new season this week. Earlier this week, what was supposed to be a protest at what had been going on at the club drew television cameras to The Deva Stadium, but with a significant number of Vaughan’s Chester supporters having now seemed to decide that this whole debacle was somehow the fault of the FA rather than the fault of their own club, it was not difficult for those sympathetic to Vaughan to turn the protest into an almost embarrassingly pro-Vaughan, anti-FA demonstration, under the pretence of it being “a show of unity for the club”. It’s unsurprising that this came to pass, considering the thinly-veiled threats of violence made against people that may have protested against Vaughan on the club’s unofficial message board, Deva Chat.

The FA and Football Conference have, ultimately, made a decision which is spineless, a cop out and an insult to anybody that believes that football clubs should abide by rules that are in place in the greater interests of the game. The Football Conference’s rule 2.7, the one which was the sticking point when it came to the club’s eligibility to start the season, may as well be abolished right now. That is the grim truth of the matter. There is no point even having a rule designed to stop clubs body-swerving their obligations towards their creditors if, when push comes to shove, the authorities relent and allow these rules to be bypassed. The Conference has broken its own rules, and the FA have sanctioned it. This disregard for the rules – and, man alive, these guys are rigid enough about rules when they want to be – has wider ramifications. Every asset stripper, every huckster, every two-bit who thinks that there may be a couple of shillings to made from picking at a small club’s carcass will have been watching developments at Vaughan’s Chester thinking, “He’ll never get away with it, will he?”, and he has. There is a little less reason for unscrupulous club owners to manage their football club within its means this evening.

What arguably makes this even worse, even more insulting, is that they have admitted as much. The FA have fined the Football Conference £5,000 (suspended for a year) for breaking their own rules and warned them that their rules now have to be reviewed before the end of this season. The Conference, in issuing their own statement describing how they are looking forward to working with the FA to review their insolvency rules, have – in not complaining about it – effectively admitted not merely that they bent the rules to help out a club but that they broke their own rules to allow Vaughan’s Chester to stay in the BSP this season. Goodness only knows what will come out of this “review”. It would be nice to think that the FA would sit down all of the leagues and draw up identical insolvency rules for all of the leagues, from the Premier League down to the amateur leagues, and that these rules will be stiff, with absolute penalties for transgressors. The likelihood of this happening, however, is slim to zero. In the mean time, back in Footyworld, that surreal parallel universe in which the normal laws of physics often don’t seem to apply, life will return to normal. The Football Conference hasn’t upset the Football League, and it will have twenty-four competing clubs this season.

Vaughan’s Chester’s supporters may well be celebrating this evening, but their hard work starts here. The points deduction stands, and the lack of a proper pre-season will hurt manager Mick Wadsworth and his team. Even if they avoid relegation this season, it is still possible that they will be expelled at the start of next summer if their house isn’t in order by then and with a new CVA now being almost if not completely impossible to obtain, it is difficult to see a long term way forward for them with Vaughan in charge. He has no obligation to sell at the moment, though. It now seems likely that the old company will be put into liquidation and that suppliers, local businesses and HMRC (in other words, you and I – let’s not forget that, ultimately, all money raised from tax revenues is our money) will be left without any recompense. Vaughan’s Chester’s supporters have been very, very lucky, and the very least that they owe the rest of us is to work tirelessly until Vaughan is removed from Vaughan’s Chester.

For now, though, he’s still there. The man that sold his shares in Barrow for a nominal fee when the club played Vaughan’s Chester in the FA Cup to a painter and decorator, only to buy them back a couple of days after the match was played. The man that held a minute’s silence at The Deva Stadium for Colin Smith, a gangster shot dead outside a Liverpool gymnasium in 2007. The man that either did or didn’t pay £11,000 per week for “cleaning services” earlier this year. The man that signed the club over to his son at the end of April without making it public. The man that attempted a CVA with himself as the biggest creditor and saw an appeal against it upheld in court. Moreover, he still passes the FA’s Fit & Proper Person test to be a director of a club. In some respects, this at least makes sense, at least logically. After all, if he wasn’t a “fit & proper person” to run a football club, the Football Conference wouldn’t have accepted his application to join their league and the FA wouldn’t have ratified the decision, would they?

The Story Of Steven Vaughan’s Chester This Summer

Chester City’s Administration & Steven Vaughan

Chester City’s Summer Crisis Continues

Chester City – The Tax Man Bites Back

Minus Twenty-Five For Chester?



Ian began writing Twohundredpercent in May 2006. He lives in Brighton. He has also written for, amongst others, Pitch Invasion, FC Business Magazine, The Score, When Saturday Comes, Stand Against Modern Football and The Football Supporter. Ian was the first winner of the Socrates Award For Not Being Dead Yet at the 2010 NOPA awards for football bloggers.

  • August 14, 2009 at 9:57 am

    Simon Cope

    “The FA and Football Conference have, ultimately, made a decision which is spineless, a cop out and an insult to anybody that believes that football clubs should abide by rules that are in place in the greater interests of the game”

    I wholeheartedly agree.

  • August 14, 2009 at 11:17 am

    Paul Rhodes

    Below is the Conference Rule 2.7 which it is alleged they broke and were fined £5,000, and below that is the FA rule 3(g). I am not a legal council but how come the FA have not broken their own rules by approving the affliation of Chester City?

    BSP RULE 2.7

    “2.7 In the event that any Club which is an unincorporated association resolves to transfer its membership of the Competition to a company or in the event that a Club which is a company resolves to transfer its membership to a different company the Board will use the following minimum criteria in deciding whether to approve that transfer:

    2.7.1 The shareholders or members of the Club have voted to agree the transfer of the Club’s membership to the new entity

    2.7.2 All Football Creditors in the Club must be satisfied in full or transferred (with the creditors’ consent) to the new entity, and evidenced as such.

    2.7.3 All other creditors in the Club must be satisfied and evidenced as such.

    2.7.4 The proposed new entity has provided financial forecasts showing its ability to fund the Club for the next 12 months or to the end of the Playing Season following transfer (whichever is the longer) and that evidence of funding sources has been provided.

    2.7.5 The FA has given approval for the transfer to take place.”

    FA RULE 3 (g) AFFLIATION OF CLUBS – Transfer of Membership

    Council will use the following criteria, and any other conditions in Council’s absolute discretion, in deciding whether to approve the transfer of membership by a Full Member Club or an Associate Member Club:

    (i) the shareholders or members of the existing Full Member Club or Associate Member Club have voted to agree the transfer of the membership to the proposed future member;
    (ii) all Football Creditors of the existing Full Member Club or Associate Member Club must be fully satisfied;
    (iii) all other creditors of the existing Full Member Club or Associate Member Club must be satisfied and evidenced as such;
    (iv) the proposed future Full Member Club or Associate Member Club must provide financial forecasts showing their ability to fund the Full Member Club or Associate Member Club for the next 12 months or to the end of the season following (whichever is longer); and
    (v) evidence of funding sources will be required.

  • August 14, 2009 at 1:21 pm


    I suspect the FA and Conference are rather hoping HMRC and the fraud squad will do their job for them.

    You can’t really blame them TBH.

  • August 14, 2009 at 2:07 pm


    After reading all the articles I am amazed and shocked that the FA and Conference have re-instated Chester.The owner is a Crook and should be dealt accordingly.

  • August 14, 2009 at 2:59 pm

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  • August 14, 2009 at 5:41 pm


    An utterly ridiculous situation, first they give in to Bates at Leeds and now Vaughan at Chester. The FA and the Conference are unfit to run Football.

  • August 14, 2009 at 6:28 pm

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  • August 14, 2009 at 6:32 pm

    James Loxten

    There’s not a single one of you that wouldn’t have jumped at the chance of keeping your club playing football and in effect in existence. You speak from a cold, disspassionate point of view because it’s not your club.

    You may well be right about SV and clearly he needs replacing within Chester but don’t punish the fans on the terrace who turn up in rain and shine regardless of what league we’re in.

  • August 14, 2009 at 6:52 pm

    James Humes

    The only way it seems Vaughan will leave the husk of our once proud little club is feet first in a wooden box.

    RIP Chester City.

  • August 14, 2009 at 11:08 pm

    Mick Chagnet

    Firstly, brilliant work and bless you for having the courage and energies to report this properly and fairly.

    And there in lies the problem. No one is really prepared to tackle Vaughan. The Police and HMRC lost out when Vaughan was charged but found not guilty of carousel fraud / VAT fraud.

  • August 15, 2009 at 9:02 am


    I think James Loxten is essentially right in his first paragraph. My problem is that I don’t see how the second is to be achieved without letting off the crooks and shysters.

  • August 15, 2009 at 9:58 pm


    James, what did you do when the other forty-or-so clubs went into administration, bust or got franchised over the last decade?

  • August 17, 2009 at 3:17 am


    Chester City 2 Cambridge United 4 (1757).

    Mmm, one would assume there would be more than that at Chester’s first game of the season, perhaps there were a few Chester supporters staying away in protest at what Vaughan has done.

    I hope so, and can’t say I would blame then.

    Kiwiland and Barrow supporter

  • August 18, 2009 at 10:46 am

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  • August 21, 2009 at 9:35 am

    dan James

    This is an absolute disgrace, not a lot more can be said really. To the fans who think this is good, think about the other teams that have already gone, or teams that could have gone, because to a far lesser extent those in charge wouldn’t give a small bit of leway to teams who needed it. Nobody wants to see small clubs go but rules are meant to be rules. Chester don’t deserve a reprieve, the same as many teams already gone didn’t. Where is the justice?

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