Chester’s Near Miss

Chester’s Near Miss

By on Dec 28, 2009 in Finance, Latest, Non-League | 13 comments

The festive period may have come and gone, but the confusing world of the ownership of football clubs continues to rumble on. The recent break has seen developments involving two names that have graced these pages before, Morell Maison and John Batchelor. with mixed results. Maison came to our attention because of his time in charge at Southern League club Halesowen Town, but has now resurfaced at, of all places, Chester City, where he was announced as their new Director of Football on Boxing Day.

During his time at the club, the Yeltz were kicked out of the FA Cup and the FA Trophy by the Football Association, ran up horrifying debts, were boycotted by the club’s own supporters, had the West Midlands Police Economic Crime Unit investigating allegations of fraud at the club and ended up being released on bail by the police over the matter. There are several aspects of this appointment that are curious, though. The first is the issue of whether he is being paid or not because, if he is, he’s doing better than the players, who are believed not to have been paid since November.

The second interesting aspect of this is the issue of Stephen Vaughan’s continuing interest in the club. Vaughan failed the Football Association’s Fit & Proper test when he was banned as a company director because of his admission of carousel fraud, and should have offloaded his interest in the club by the middle of December. It was, however, Vaughan that was reported as having met Maison and as recently as the 22nd of December Vaughan was confirmed as not having sold his share in the club, although he told the Liverpool Daily Post that a consortium had “due-dilligence on the football club and I am now hoping we can expect a completion of a deal before the new year”. Three days left, then.

There is, amid all of this bad news, a small chink of light for Chester City supporters. Yet another of the serial football club owners whose name had occasionally been mentioned in association with the club (and another bête noire of this site), John Batchelor, can now scrub his name off the list of buying any football clubs in the near future. Batchelor was ruinously involved at York City earlier in the decade, was sniffing around Mansfield Town earlier this year and described himself as an asset-stripper in his involvement in football clubs, but he has now been banned from acting as a company director for seven years.

Batchelor, who seemed to take a perverse pride in what he seemed to believe was no more than being plain speaking but seemed only to alarm anybody connected with any football club that he went within ten miles of, was investigated by the Insolvency Service’s Disqualification Investigation Team over his conduct in the affairs of two companies that he was acting as a director of, Moornate Chemists Limited and The Besglos Polish Company Limited. He was found to have been making payments to himself – the sum total being around £50,000 – while he knew that these two companies were insolvent. They both went into administration in the summer of 2007 with debts of £750,000.

The full extent of Batchelor’s asset-stripping, therefore, is clear. While at York City, he took £120,000 on sponsorship out of the club and diverted it towards his motor racing team. Of the twenty-four companies of which he has been a director, fourteen had been struck off the companies register and six have been insolvent. He would, however, still have passed the Football Association’s Fit & Proper Persons test until his disqualification was announced. As we have seen repeatedly over the last few months, though, it is almost impossible for anyone to be declared as unfit and improper to run a football club unless an outside organisation such as the Insolvency Service gets involved first.

Chester City will finish 2009 with a negative points tally after their match this afternoon was postponed. No-one at the Football Conference, the Football League or the Football Association has yet made a public statement on the startling success of their decision to allow Vaughan to perform what could best be described as a “switcheroo” during the summer. Exactly who will benefit, and in what way, from the involvement of Morell Maison at Chester City Football Club is anybody’s guess, and the bare fact of the matter is that there is precious little to suggest that the issues surrounding the ownership of the club has been resolved. Still, at least John Batchelor now cannot get his paws on another football club for a few years, which is a start.

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    13 Comments

  1. Keep up the good work of naming and shaming these prats.

    Bernard

    December 28, 2009

  2. So the moral maze that is Chester City has taken on Morrell Maison.
    Does Steven Vaughan own a White Persian cat? By surrounding himself with arch-villains, I have come to the conclusion that he is Ernst Blofeld and is trying to recreate SPECTRE. I fully expect George Rolls and Steve Evans to join in the near future before Chester City gets relocated to a dormant volcanic island just off the Chinese coast.

    Sean of the Shed

    December 29, 2009

  3. You just couldn’t make it up, could you? Morell Maison being recruited by Stephen Vaughan…
    As recently as 19 October, the Halesowen News reported that police “have arrested Morell Maison as part of an investigation into fraud at Halesowen Football Club”. Maison was “bailed pending further inquiries”.
    Has Vaughan completely lost the plot? Is Maison planning a takeover with backing from the Ingrams? I just can’t wait for the next episode!

    John Beech

    December 29, 2009

  4. The Term “As thick as Thieves” springs to mind!
    Mind you, I’m not too sure who would be considered the thicker in this case Vaughan, Maison or the FA for their part in this travesty.
    One thing is for sure though – the fall guy’s will, as usual, be the supporters (if there are any left when these jokers have had their fill of playing god).

    Lol

    December 29, 2009

  5. The FA’s fit & proper persons test isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. My team, Luton, has fallen foul of directors with dubious motives twice in the past 5 years and both times the FA were quite happy to approve these people as fit and proper. One of these persons, John Gurney, even had previous ‘form’ at Bedford Rugby Club which should have alerted the FA as to his motives yet they still let him buy the club.

    If this was happening to Premiership clubs they’d be all over it but because it’s mainly in the lower leagues they don’t seem to be that bothered. The FA are well named because that is exactly what they do to protect small clubs from tools like Vaughan, Maison & Batchelor.

    Micky F

    December 30, 2009

  6. They should make a movie out of this clubs recent history. Or a pantomime.

    John A

    December 30, 2009

  7. Of course, George Rolls is busy “saving” Weymouth at the minute, so Chester are safe from him for a bit.

    Mark Murphy

    December 30, 2009

  8. Here’s a statement from the CFU (City Fans United).

    CFU are both surprised, disappointed and shocked at events currently taking place at The Deva Stadium.

    Whilst the players, we believe, have still to be paid from November and the current manager is working miracles in what can be some of the most difficult circumstances ever experienced by a Chester manager, Stephen Vaughan, currently banned from acting as a director by The Department of Trade, has appeared to appoint Morell Maison as Director of Football.

    CFU feel that this appointment is totally unnecessary and can only undermine the excellent work of both the manager and the players at this very difficult time.

    Mr Maison’s time at Halesowen was one of great turbulence for the club; being expelled from the FA Cup and FA Trophy, going into administration and reports of financial irregularities.

    Maison also recieved a twelve month touchline ban after clashing with one of his own players and the former Chief Executive, Guy Simpson, who arrived at the club on the invitation of Maison, was in August 2009 charged with fraudulent evasion of tax duty in the region of £4.5 million.

    Once again we call upon Vaughan and his family to make real efforts to sell the club at a reasonable price to genuine potential purchasers. In the meanwhile we ask him to reconsider his approach to Maison who, we feel has nothing to offer to CCFC and use the money which would be paid to him to pay some of the unpaid players.

    We would also like to thank the manager and the current players for their great professionalism under these very trying circumstances.

    The City Fans United committee would like to wish all CFU members, and Chester City fans across the globe, a Happy New Year.

    Phil Chester

    December 30, 2009

  9. Ah, you can’t be both surprised, disappointed and shocked.

    ejh

    December 30, 2009

  10. Anderson and Gray do what they’re told

    Tom

    January 5, 2010

  11. I would like to update readers of this website to the latest activities of Morell Maison.
    I am one of his latest ‘victims’ and I write this partly because I am very angry and also with a genuine concern for those who may be next.
    He has sent publicity material to Colleges throughout England promoting the Global Football Academy. I was hired by him to do this and can say I have doubts whether the academy is operating or is still in its planning stages.
    Morell tried to create the impression that he has Jason Roberts, the Blackburn Rovers striker, and Watford legend Luther Blissett on tap as his coaches therefore adding credibility to his academy. I can confirm he definitely has good relationships with both but anyone in their right mind would question how great their involvement could be.
    From my contact with Morell, I would certainly not recommend any young people to join this organisation which is now based at Rickmansworth.
    His treatment of me was arrogant and shocking – particularly surprising perhaps as I was almost a friend as well as a journalist – and I do not believe he would take good care of anyone who puts their trust in him.
    My concern is that he would raise expectsations through the roof with the only guarantee being that he lines his own pocket.
    He even discussed with me whether he would effectively own players and therefore be able to transfer them to clubs.
    He was actively looking to hook up with a club and then became manager of Kettering Town.
    Unsurprisingly, as at Halesowen and Chester previously, chaos soon ensued. His assistant manager Nicky Eaden was first to go apparently saying he could not work a day longer with Morell – even though they’d been together barely a couple of months, Snother reputable name in Roger Ashby followed suit with Morell falling on his poisonous sword soon after. He still has his business interests at Kettering, even basing his personal assistant at Nene Park.
    It would be very interesting to know what the FA, who banned Morell for three months following his famed altercation with Dean Brennan, think of him running a football academy

    John Brindley

    September 19, 2011

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