Chester City: The Death Rattle – Part 8

11 By Ian  |   The Ball  |   January 13, 2010  |     32

Since we last reported from Chester City, much has happened and nothing has changed. At the same time, owner Stephen Vaughan was due to have ceded all control in the club by the middle of December having been disqualified as a company director after an investigation by the Insolvency Service’s Disqualification Investigation Team over alleged carousel fraud. Casual observers may have been forgiven, however, for continuing to hold the impression that not a great deal has changed at The Deva Stadium over the last month or so. Over the last couple of weeks, however, things have started to become farcical there.

First of all came the arrival of Morell Maison, fresh from his disastrous spell at Halesowen Town, which left the Southern League club teetering on the brink of closure, banned from FA competitions this year after they failed to pay Maisdtone United and Durham City gate receipts from matches against them last year in the FA Cup and the FA Trophy (which left a particularly bitter taste in the case of Durham, who had to release all of their players during the summer after the withdrawal of a sponsor, leaving them gamely but distastrously battling away at the bottom of the Unibond League Premier Division with a youth team) and boycotted by their own supporters.

Maison didn’t seem particularly clear on what his role at the club actually was. His official title seems to be “Director Of Football”, but according to subsequent press interviews he still hasn’t met the players yet. The question of why a club would be taking on a Director of Football when the players hadn’t been paid for two months wasn’t, unsurprisingly, answered by the club itself. Maison started his time at the club with an interview on BBC London’s Non-League Show on the 4th of January. He stated – at first – that the club was still under the ownership of both Stephen Vaughan Junior and Senior (news that may have been of interest to the FA as well as the Insolvency Service) before amending this statement to say that Vaughan Senior hadn’t been involved in his appointment. He then went on to state that he wasn’t being paid for his position and that he wouldn’t be getting involved in issues on the playing side of the football club. He contradicted himself on one of these statements within the body of the interview (claiming to have signed two players on loan from Mansfield Town), and the truth behind the other started to come out in the next few days.

By the end of the week, the truth was starting to emerge, as rumours began to circulate that Maison had paid £75,000 for a share in the club, though details remain sketchy over whether this has actually taken place or what he may have paid for. It would have been interesting to hear his interview at the bank for that particular loan. At the same time, manager Jim Harvey gave up the ghost and left the club. Reports on BBC Radio Merseyside again linked Vaughan Senior with the running of the club, stating that it was he that had told Harvey that he had no future at the club. At the same time, Cambridge United were have reported to have reported the club over non-payment for loan players that the Chester took from them during the first half of this season.

It seems that these are the straws that are finally breaking the camels back. There is now open talk on the club’s forum, Devachat, of a breakaway club with the major sticking point between supporters now being whether they should go now in order to be prepared for the start of next season or wait to see if or when the club goes bust in order to secure a lease on The Deva Stadium. It seems unlikely that they will get a lease on what they would regard as their home until the old club has finally vacated it, unless the local council step in and evict Chester City. Whether they would be able to do this legally would depend on the terms of the lease. Meaniwhile, it now seems likely that everything will be done in order for Chester to complete their fixtures this season. It has been mentioned that the survival of the club for this season is likely to be ensured, but where they go at the end of the season is very much open to question. The Football Conference has a deal that it brokered with the Football League for two promotion and relegation  places, and it doesn’t wish to jeopardise them. At the end of the season, though, with relegation seeming a near certainty, what exactly will happen?

Even allowing for the absurd and flagrant abuses of the rules that they have already piled up this season and the extent to which they have got away with it, it seems scarcely credible that the club will not have the book thrown at it once 2009/10 is out of the way. The issues of ownership, non-payment of football debts and the manner in which it started the season would seem to indicate that expulsion from the Conference is likely and that the club would have to start next season in the Unibond League Premier Division at best. There is precedent for this, in the case of Boston United a couple of years ago. Boston, a club of a similar size to Chester, remain in the middle of the Unibond League – proof, as if it were needed, that the long haul back to the Football League is something that has to be worked for rather than a series of rights of accession.

Even if it didn’t, relegation from the Blue Square Premier at the end of this season is already almost inevitable – the club would need around forty-five to fifty points from their remaining matches to have anything like a realistic chance of avoiding relegation. Players seem to be leaving on an almost daily basis, and the club will be unlikely to make much revenue from match days if a full boycott. Ultimately, however, the charade of anybody at the club actually giving a damn about the supporters of the club vanished a long time ago. It is now the football authorities that the club’s owners have to persuade. They have played them off for mugs several times before – will they be able to get away with it yet again?



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.

  • January 13, 2010 at 1:33 pm


    “will they be able to get away with it yet again?” Probably.

    At the end of the day those in charge in the League are not going to lose their jobs over their inaction. If they were accountable for what they have NOT done (which is sort out Chester before the season) this mess might not be happening and we’d have new people in the League committee (or whoever runs the roost!)

    So we lurch from one crisis to another…. it like the banks isnt it. Until one really big one goes (like Lenham Bros did) no one really took notice.

    Perhaps we need a Portsmouth at the top to set the ball rolling and see a cascade of other clubs suddenly finding that they are living beyond their means; and that other member clubs arent willing to pay the subs to the League(s) to help bail them out!

  • January 13, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    Cristiano Ronaldo models Armani pants, Adebayor back in Arsenal colours, Liverpool want French winger » Who Ate all the Pies

    […] Chester City, not in the best of shape [twohundredpercent] […]

  • January 13, 2010 at 6:25 pm


    chester supporters aren’t living beyond there means,they have been taken for a ride by owners who have used the football club as a vehicle to hide there real intentions which happens off the field of play and has no connection with football.

  • January 13, 2010 at 9:13 pm


    Facebook can be a useful site to keep in touch with friends etc, but also a wonderful repository of fuckwittery. Ladies & gents, I give you the Morell Maison fanpage:

    As a Cambridge United fan, I’m still amazed we let Mark Beasley go on loan to Chester, as anyone with half a brain can work out that the club have no money. At our fans forum, any worries about the loan were brushed off with a “we are football creditor, don’t worry” response. I wish no ill to the fans of Chester, but if this is anotherr nail in the coffin of Stephen Vaughn FC, then so be it. AFC Chester is only option.

  • January 13, 2010 at 10:43 pm


    “Boston, a club of a similar size to Chester, remain in the middle of the Unibond League”

    Just to let you know, we are doing well this season, 3rd at the moment, and are pushing for promotion.

    It is a very long way back but I think most supporters who’ve been in our situation would rather be in a lower league with a well run club than higher up and badly run.

    Good luck to Chester fans trying to clean their club up.

  • January 14, 2010 at 12:39 pm


    I’ve just had a look at his facebook page. I’m a Halesowen fan, so nearly laughted myself to death! Who is that Liz person? What a demented sole she must be>

  • January 14, 2010 at 12:40 pm


    Sorry, Izzie, not Liz. My humble apologies for the error 😉

  • January 15, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    Simon Cope

    Seems like HMRC have had a winding-up order in against Chester City since November – court date is set for 27th January.

    (bottom left of page)

  • January 15, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    Simon Cope

    Oh, and this interview with Stephen Not-At-All-Involved-With-Chester Vaughan is worth a read as well:

  • January 15, 2010 at 9:33 pm


    So another winding up petition from HMRC despite numerous promises to the authorities in the summer?

    Have Chester City ever paid any tax?

    I hope this time the authorities don’t take the easy and neat route and just wait until the end of the season to put an end to this absolute nonsense. That doesn’t deter anyone. It happened to Fisher only last season.

  • January 17, 2010 at 5:54 pm


    Just a not to any Chester City fans that it might well be a “long haul back to the Football League” if and when you reform as a Supporters club but as a AFC Wimbledon supporter I can honestly say that it will be worth the journey and you will see, during your travels, exactly what football is all about and not what the “Vaughans” of this world have brought it down to.

    Good Luck to You All!!!

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