Chester City Football Club: The Death Rattle (Part 6!)

12 By Ian  |   The Ball  |   November 30, 2009  |     37

The axe swung, then, and the side of the neck was lightly grazed. Actually, in spite of what we may well be thinking (and this is a feeling that is spreading around the game ilke wildfire at present), there may be an ounce of common sense in the Football Conference’s decision to allow Chester City a temporary reprieve until Thursday: they are playing Cambridge United at The Abbey Stadium tomorrow night and Cambridge would have been put to a considerable amount of inconvenience (and, of course, expense) were the match to not be played. Here is the Football Conference’s statement on today’s talks in full:

The Football Conference confirm that positive discussions have continued today between themselves, the Football League and Chester City FC concerning the club’s continued membership and participation in the Blue Square Premier.

We are able to report that the Football League is playing an active role in endeavours to ensure the Club is able to meet its financial commitments regarding their legal undertaking to settle with creditors which formed part of their requirement for membership in 2009/10, and which also incorporates payment to creditors which the Club has with the Football Conference.

To enable the Football League to provide maximum assistance in drawing matters to a satisfactory conclusion, Tuesday evening’s match (1st December) between Cambridge United and Chester City will proceed as scheduled.

The Football Conference will then convene an emergency Board meeting on Thursday, 3rd December to receive a report from the joint deliberations between all parties, before discussing what further action may be necessary in light of the information provided. Following that meeting the Football Conference will issue a further statement.

So, there will be an extraordinary board meeting of the Football Conference on Thursday and the understanding is that the league is absolutely at the end of its tether with the club. The money owed to Wrexham and Vauxhall Motors, which are the crux of the issue being debated (as opposed to the various misdemeanours of Stephen Vaughan Senior and/or Junior), have not, apparently, been paid. If the issue of inconvenience to Cambridge United has been taken into account, however, and this turns out to be the reason for Chester being thrown a further seventy-two hours to try and sort themselves out, then Thursday’s meeting will end less than forty-eight hours before Chester are due to play Luton Town at The Deva Stadium.

More protests are likely for Saturday and this time the media, who were largely caught napping by the abandonment of last weekend’s match against Eastbourne Borough, are likely to be paying much closer attention this coming Saturday if the club does manage to somehow to get itself yet another stay of execution on Thursday. What surprises might the increasingly militant and agitated Chester crowd have in store to try and top last Saturday’s events? It seems unlikely that they would make the mistake of publicising is first. Should the Football Conference confound expectations and grant them another chance, though, the likelihood is that all Chester home matches will become publicity stunts to varying degrees, until the league does the decent things and puts the club out of its misery.

The irony of this situation is that there is nothing that the Football Conference wants more than to be Taken Seriously. The ground requirements are stiff so that as many teams as possible have a chance of promotion into the Football League, and the financial requirements used to be stringent with clubs being denied promotion unless they could prove that they were sustainable. What is happening at the moment, however, is making a laughing stock of the Football Conference and, in a broader sense, of non-league football in general. The question that we therefore have to ask is who is this being dragged out for the benefit of.

It isn’t for the benefit of the clubs in the league, who are playing matches against a club without even knowing whether the results will be worth anything in a few weeks. It isn’t for the benefit of the Blue Square Premier, which is being made to look like a league that has a member club that is a combination of a tragedy, a soap opera, a disgrace and a laughing stock. It isn’t for the benefit of the players and staff, who aren’t being paid. It isn’t even to the benefit of the supporters, who now seem resigned to the death of this club and who would probably benefit the most from the closure club, to give them a chance of getting a new, democratically-owned club into The Deva Stadium, even if it was to start a far lower level than that at which what passes for Chester City currently plays.

To an extent, however, the Football Conference have been stuck between a rock and a hard place. Leant on from one side by the Football Association, who considered them to be in breach of their own rules, and on the other by the Football League, who were exerting pressure to guarantee the future of clubs that fall out of the league. The “easy” solution would be for someone to give the club their Football League parachute money (a sizeable amount of money), but this money is discretionary and there is, presumably, a reason why it is not being released by the Football League. In the meantime, the match against Cambridge United goes ahead – whether there is any point in this match being played, however, will not be known until Thursday at the earliest.



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.

  • November 30, 2009 at 11:13 pm

    Rob C

    The reason the Football League aren’t releasing the parachute payment is that Chester City signed an agreement in the summer, an agreement that enabled them to take part in the Conference this season, in which they agreed that the parachute money would only be released once Chester have paid off the football creditors. If Chester didn’t like it, they shouldn’t have signed it. They are using bully-boy tactics to try and get the money released.

  • December 1, 2009 at 1:37 am

    Chester City Football Club (multi-merge goodness VI) - Page 5 - - Wrexham

    […] Re: Chester City Football Club (multi-merge goodness VI) another great article from 200% and part 5.. Chester City Football Club: The Death Rattle (Part 6!) […]

  • December 1, 2009 at 7:35 am

    Jay - Chester

    Here’s some news I heard…..

    Apprantly Stephen Vaughan turned up to the Deva prior to the match on Saturday with a bag full of money to pay the player’s wages. Half was paid in cash and half was offered via cheque (which was rejected over fears of the bouncing, again).

    All transactions in a proper (non-tax dodging) outfit should be paid electronically. I can only speculate as to the amount of alleged cash in a bag and the legitimacy of where it came from.

    Big shout to the Chester Casuals for Saturday. You’ve make me proud. Well done lads!

  • December 1, 2009 at 11:19 am

    Mark Murphy

    Is there not also an issue about whether the parachute payment is owed to the oldCo (in administration) or the newCo? Or was that resolved somewhere between parts 4 and 5 and I missed it? Sorry, if so.

  • December 1, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    Jonah Mann

    It’s a very sorry state of affairs at the deva.
    The fella Vaughan is deffo a wrong’un and it seems that until he is no longer involved at the club (in any form), then Chester city are doomed. The conference are a joke and made the biggest mistake of allowng the club membership in the summer, they should have refused them membership (as per their rules) and this might have forced Vaughan out. As it is the league has become a laughing stock, the Chester fans dont know where they stand and Vaughan is still in control.
    Put them out of their misery and let them have their club back, even if it does mean them playing in the Welsh premier league or the Unibond.

  • December 1, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    Of windings-up and windings up « Football Management

    […] which runs to 1088 pages in the compressed paperback edition.  Even Ian King at 200% has reached Part 6 of Chester City Football Club: The Death Rattle. The Chester City version has all the makings of a […]

  • December 2, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    Phil Chester

    You were doing so well then Jonah, right up to the Welsh League comment!

    The issues at our club are going to roll on for some time to come if Vaughan gets the go ahead to carry on this Thursday. From all of the reports that I have read from the Conference it’s only the footballing creditor issues that are being discussed at this moment in time, nothing about the questions over the legality of Vaughan Juniors ownership.

    It’s a real dilemma for us Chester fans because we don’t want the club to go to the wall BUT we don’t want the Vaughan clan involved any more. Sadly the only way that many of us see this going now is for the club in its current form going to the wall and a new club forming.

  • December 2, 2009 at 9:08 pm


    It doesn’t just make the Conference look bad, it makes football look bad. Chester were an established Football League team for decades and

    This is all about the Football League members club ensuring that they *always* have somewhere to land if the worst happens.

    If the Conference had killed Chester in the summer as they ought to have done, the Football League would have pulled up the drawbridge, taken its ball and gone home.

  • December 2, 2009 at 10:06 pm

    The road to Wigan Pier was blocked, so Chester was the next best thing….. « Llandudno Jet Set

    […] greatly. (You can also read the stages of the current situation; One, Two, Three, Four, Five and Six.)  Vaughan also has extremely dodgy […]

  • December 3, 2009 at 10:19 am

    Jonah Mann

    It’s my understanding that if the football creditors havent been paid what they are owed by the emergency meeting, then Chester will be expelled. Dark days indeed.

  • December 3, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    Phil Chester

    So Vaughan escapes again thanks to the spineless footballing authorities.

  • February 26, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    Lessons Learned from Portsmouth and Chester City | Pitch Invasion

    […] Meanwhile, when a club that has existed for 125 years reaches the sorry state that Chester City have, it’s no wonder their supporters, organised in the City Fans United (CFU) Supporters’ Trust, ask how the football authorities could have allowed such poor and shady business practices to destroy their club.The Football Conference, after expunging Chester’s record from the Blue Square Premier records this season, said that “Friday’s events are unparalleled in the history of our national sport and it is with much regret these circumstances have evolved” (as if the Conference themselves had not played their own cretinous part in that “evolution”). […]

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