Chester City: The Death Rattle – Part 14

18 By Ian  |   The Ball  |   February 23, 2010  |     38

It almost feels as if we should be apologising for the amount of time that has been given over to Chester City on this site over the last few weeks. However, this story has unravelled into one of the most extraordinary football stories of recent times, and it still is not being reported to the extent that it should be elsewhere. With all of this in mind, we are going to have a final go at bringing this ridiculous story up to speed and will then leave it be until the Football Conference’s extraordinary meeting on Friday morning. The cast list of rogues continues to grow, and the chances of the supporters getting what they want and need continues to ebb and flow.

It is difficult to remember a football club whose supporters have been batted from pillar to post quite as much as those of Chester City over the last few years. If we go back far enough, there were the three years that they spent being forced to travel across Cheshire to Macclesfield Town’s Moss Rose for home matches while the protracted construction of The Deva Stadium took place. Then there were the twin disasters of Mark Guterman and Terry Smith, which almost killed the club at the start of this decade. Even those guys, though, couldn’t quite manage to wreak the havoc upon the club that has been managed over the last year or so and, by the looks of it, will continue to be wreaked upon it for as long as those in a position to be able to do something about it allow it to happen.

As mentioned on here last night, the apparent sale of the club to a Danish website called Chester Projekt has been agreed by the Vaughan family, though it is pretty clear from this photograph on the Chester Chronicle’s website that Stephen Vaughan Senior (who, let us not forget, is now serving an eleven year ban fom acting as a company director) is very closely involved in this take-over, in direct contravention of the law and the FA’s Fit & Proper rules. His smile is a laugh, and it is aimed at everyone. It’s directed at the long-suffering supporters of Chester City, whom he finally articulated his true feelings about in an interview with Sky Sports News today. Again, unusual that he should be representing the club in the media. It’s not just the supporters of the club that he is laughing at, though. He’s laughing at the Danes that have bailed him out, and he’s laughing at the Football Conference and the Football Association, who parrot their fine words about financial propriety at football clubs but, when push came to shove, allowed him to walk over them time and time again.

The final time will come on Friday. At eleven o’clock on Friday morning at Rushden & Diamonds’ Nene Park, the Football Conference will meet to discuss expelling them from the league. Twenty-three BSP clubs and the eight divisional representatives from the Blue Square North and the Blue Square South will vote, and three-quarters will need to vote in favour of the recommendation to expel the club. It is not known whether abstentions will be completely null and void, or whether they will count as votes against the proposal. If eight votes go against the proposal, Chester City will stagger on for the time being. The Chester Projekt farce gives the Football Conference the perfect opportunity to cop out and vote against it. The selfish concerns of clubs that will vote against because they are too cowed to vote in favour of it or merely because they are utterly selfish and would find themselves a couple of points worse off if they did expel them will not be mentioned publicly. It may seem scarcely credible that they could act in such a way, but anyone that believes that they won’t should probably consider this comment, made by the chairman of Histon in this evening’s Cambridge Evening Post:

Clubs have been asked to vote on the future of another football club and we’ll have the blood on our hands if we vote Chester out. I don’t necessarily agree with it at all. Teams above us could lose up to 6 points (if Chester are expelled) and that could give us an outside chance of reaching the play-offs, so there could be a benefit there to us.

Standing accused alongside the Vaughan family is Palle Rasmussen of the Chester Projekt itself. This is an organisation that Chester Fans United were prepared to speak to over the future of the club, but their behaviour over the last couple of weeks has done nothing but anger and alienate the supporters of Chester City. To clarify, this is a brief timeline of what they have been up to:

  1. They launched a major media campaign in Denmark without contacting anyone from the Chester supporters group.
  2. They claimed, on their website, to have the 100% backing of CFU when they hadn’t (a complaint from CFU meant that this statement was removed from the site, but no retraction was published).
  3. They met with CFU in Chester last week and stated that they would not proceed with a bid to purchase the club if CFU did not wish them to.
  4. When they were requested not to proceed with a bid, went ahead with one anyway.
  5. Having submitted their bid and having had it accepted, they made various insulting and derogatory comments about CFU on a website. This is something that they have not apologised for.

The Vaughans may well cut and run, but Chester City’s total debt is £703,000, of which £218,000 isn’t owed to the family. Chester City are facing almost certain relegation from the Blue Square Premier at the end of this season, and it would be far from surprising if they were demoted considerably further as a result of their shenanigans since last summer. Chester Projekt would still be left with these debts and would also have to cover the ongoing running costs of the club. How long would it be before another winding up petition landed from HMRC for non-payment of tax? With no supporters – their comments about CFU and Chester supporters don’t seem likely to attract many of the 800 members of CFU back to the club any time soon – how are the running costs of the club going to be met? Palle Rasmussen has been described as suffering from “stress” this evening. This isn’t particularly surprising, and he will will receive scant sympathy in Chester over it.

Of course, the presence of Mark Wright in the photograph above provides us with some clues. Wright, a former manager of Chester City and a man whose depature from two clubs contained allegations of racism, is said to be a friend of Vaughan and it was his PR company that put the Danes in contact with Vaughan. This is somewhat confusing, as there had been no prior mention anywhere of Mark Wright owning a PR company or, indeed, any reference anywhere on the internet to such a company existing. One might expect a public relations company to seek to advertise itself, but Wright’s doesn’t even seem to have a website. Perhaps he should clarify the name of this company, so that its existence can be confirmed with Companies House.

So, the rules of the game have been smashed to pieces. The feelings of the supporters of the club concerned – the only people, it would seem, that actually want to do things properly – have been ignored, and they are openly now being laughed at by those that are seeking to divide and rule. Someone that is banned from being involved the management of a football club – indeed, is being from being or acting as any sort of company director – is involved in the running of a football club. The opportunity to lance this boil has been missed, dropped, thrown away and laughed out of court on occasions too numerous to mention. Small wonder that so many people think that there is something is rotten at the heart of English football. Indeed, the only question worth asking at this stage is whether it actually has a heart in the first place.



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.

  • February 23, 2010 at 8:19 am


    Thanks for these posts about Chester, which are as fascinating as they are disgusting.

  • February 23, 2010 at 9:55 am


    Once again an excellent article.

  • February 23, 2010 at 10:00 am

    Keith Hayward

    “The Vaughans may well cut and run”. That doesn’t sound likely in this quote from SV Jnr: “The Vaughan family will today contact the Football Conference and inform them that we will defer full payment until June 2011 and ensure that full funding will be made available to pay all of our outstanding creditors, i.e. rent, revenue and all players wages and players arrears, and other football creditors.”

    This sounds like the Vaughans turning up again in June 2011 and claiming Chester City back in place of their unpaid half million. If the Danish outfit lasts that long.

  • February 23, 2010 at 10:04 am

    Dermot O'Dreary

    “The selfish concerns of clubs that will vote against because they are too cowed to vote in favour of it or merely because they are utterly selfish and would find themselves a couple of points worse off if they did expel them will not be mentioned publicly. It may seem scarcely credible that they could act in such a way, but anyone that believes that they won’t should probably consider this comment, made by the chairman of Histon in this evening’s Cambridge Evening Post”

    I would guarantee that certain clubs will vote purely on the basis of the number of points that they have gained from matches against Chester. Mentioning no names, but STEVENAGE BOROUGH FC have already made lots of noise about legal action if Chester are expelled and their record expunged.

  • February 23, 2010 at 12:39 pm


    I have a Horrible feeling that the vote on Friday will do more harm to football and the conference itself than Chester City 2004 and the Vaughans.
    Morally, the obvious thing to do would be to expel CCFC but I believe self interest will overtake proceedings and the ineffectualness of footballs governing bodies will be exposed once again. It also makes perfectly clear the schism between those who make a living out of the game and those who genuinely support it (the fans!)
    Another great article about a really sad story but one that needs to be told. Keep up the good work!

  • February 23, 2010 at 1:50 pm


    I doubt HMRC will allow deferment to 2011 and that ought to do it.

    That is the sort of over-rule get-out clause that the Conference clubs are desperately thrashing about for.

    It all depends on whether they get a judge who knows anything about the history of this case I suppose.

  • February 23, 2010 at 4:19 pm


    LOL, had to laugh when i heard Mark Wright has a PR company :)

    Those Danes dont seem to know what theyre letting themselves in for.

    oh and thanks for having that expulsion meeting on Friday when my team would normally have travelled up on that day to play Chester on the saturday.why couldnt it have been sorted out earlier in the week?? have the police been paid?? will the players play?? bet its feckin postponed again thus affecting MY feckin team…..conference is a joke and getting more tinpot by the day…….

  • February 23, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    Barry Ashworth

    Another great article- thanks for the quality and research and time that has gone into it.

  • February 23, 2010 at 10:30 pm

    Chris Ross

    Great set of articles. Although I am a Stags supporter I really, really appreciate the time and effort involved in posting these articles and assure you that they are completely compelling to read. I hope against hope, that the supporters of Chester prevail and look back to you climbing the leagues again. Good luck, if any club and its supporters deserve some, it’s you lot.

  • February 24, 2010 at 1:23 pm


    We all sympathise with Chester. They’re can’t be a true fan who couldn’t.

    Being an oxford lifer i can easily remember the much worrying before and during Maxwells spell. we always said rather a club in the 4th than no club at all!! Well we got just that and worse.

    Your situation needs true support management to see it through, not more foreigners….Hopefully the norwegians are not looking at a small scale map and think they’re buying Liverpool…Well wot do they know!!

    The Conference is weak (as someone selfish with no understanding from my neck of the woods mentioned above)so you wont get the vote you require…It isn’t right or fair.

    An excellent post with sad content….
    The best of luck to you all….

  • February 24, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    Dude Love

    Another brilliant article. It would have been good if someone had been fully documenting Vaughan’s time at Barrow; perhaps he would never had been allowed to get into Chester at all if people had seen what a crook he was. The whole shame about this is that Vaughan may end up getting his money back

  • February 24, 2010 at 3:26 pm


    If they have to be removed from the league. Tbh honest their wouldnt be as big of a problem if they didnt have some teams playing the teice in the opening 12 weeks as we did when they had a strong competitive team and some team just picking th epoints up off the kids and demotivated team. If they made the fixtures correctly we would have all played them once and this problem wouldnt be as big. Unfortunitly for the supporters and us as Gateshead we played them twice at the beginning but I can see the teams at the top and bottom being against it.

    Good Luck Chester City Fans

  • February 24, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    pete balsdon

    thank god vaughan never got tranmere rovers so very near what a joke come on duke westminster bail them out

  • February 24, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    rob CCFC fan exiled in Scotland

    As a true city fan all my life I feel that the Vaughan family should never have had been a part of Chester City FC. Having watch the club slowly become a shadow of its former self has been truely disgusting to watch. I’m glad the Vaughans are selling ang going. May they never come back.

    This is a club that should be up in the 1st division at least. Given the amount of support that has been lost of the last 10 years, the glory days can come back along with supporters.

    Have faith in the potential new owners.

  • February 25, 2010 at 5:45 pm


    Great article!
    All my sympathy with the Chester Fans.

    Hope once the Danes have taken over the club they will actually run it properly and support and respect CFU. You guys need to work together to get Chester back on the map.

  • February 26, 2010 at 9:57 am

    Gareth Williams

    Great article by Ian, as a Wrexham supporter I feel so sad that this could happen to any of us . The conference have let you down in your Hour of need and fellow clubs will just look at their own needs , I hope my team do the right thing and vote to kick Vaughan and the present club out of the League
    All the best to C.F.U. I hope it works out for you
    Come back soon

  • February 27, 2010 at 8:29 pm


    As a Bournemouth supporter, I watched the demise of Chester from League 2 and as an Ebbsfleet backer, I voted for the expulsion of Chester City because I am heartily sick of the financial mismanagement of your club and in football generally. I hope that CFU can get the backing to form a phoenix club that can rise as Aldershot and Accrington have done – but hopefully in a shorter timespan. Good luck for the future.

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