Chester City – The End Of The Road & The Rebirth

Chester City – The End Of The Road & The Rebirth

By on Feb 26, 2010 in Latest, Non-League | 25 comments

Send not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee. The bell tolled for Chester City at just after 2.00 this afternoon. Against the predictions of many – myself included – the Football Conference made the right decision and expelled Chester City from its organisation. This evening isn’t a time for celebration. We should mourn the passing of the club and take a moment to consider the whys and wherefores of how this came to pass. What some people seemed to fail to grasp was how desperate the situation for supporters of the club had become. How desperate do you have to feel to actively wish for the death of your football club?

The people involved in Chester Fans United weren’t professional activists chasing their own agendas for quasi-political reasons. They were ordinary football supporters like you and I, just people that wanted a football club that they could be proud of and they could support without the seeds of doubt in the back of their minds about what it was that they were supporting. To follow a football club is an act of faith which transcends merely turning up on a Saturday afternoon, handing over some money and moaning or cheering. It is an extension of one’s own personality. Most football supporters put up with a considerable amount of ill treatment in the name of their love of the game. Chester’s supporters have put up with more than almost anybody else in the game over the last few months. Now, from the ashes of this loss, something great can be created.

The overwhelming majority of us cannot even imagine how it feels to be in the situation that Chester supporters have been put in over the last few months, a period during which their relationship with the club that they support has collapsed into something approaching an abusive relationship. As recently as last week, Stephen Vaughan Senior, still acting as the owner of their club even though his shouldn’t have been since December, attempted to ridicule the people of CFU. The Chester Projekt attempted the same thing and, although they did at least a feeble and half-hearted apology a couple of days ago, they have no place in Chester. They backed the wrong horse, and they should have the good grace to understand this and withdraw from any further involvement in the proposed take-over of the club with what is left of their dignity intact.

For all the hurt, however, hope can start now for Chester supporters. The lower divisions of non-league football may prove to be culture shock for them, but the road back to the perch from which they have fallen will be an adventure that will certainly prove to be more exciting than the spousal abuse that they have suffered over the last few months. With the support of the council (who surely are now left with no option but to evict the broken shell of Chester City from The Deva Stadium), they can rebuild – a club that the people of Chester can be proud of. A club, the very existence of which continues the spirit of the club. A club that stands as a testimony to the fact that this situation must never be allowed to happen again.

They will find that they make many, many friends on the way. They will find that there is a community that will support them and will stand alongside them and offer the best advice that they could hope to receive. And one day the rest of the world will feel that Chester are back, when the truth of the matter is that the spirit of the club never went away – it was just hijacked by other people for their own means for a while. Nobody wanted Chester City to die. To suggest otherwise is insulting the motives of those that opposed the regime that ran this club to the grave.

There are still loose ends to tie up, of course. There is still talk of appeals, legal action and until we hear otherwise, the take-over of Chester City remains firmly on. They are still dependent to an extent on the actions of others. The council now has to do the right thing. Their decision, however, has been made infinitely easier by the Conference’s decision today. It will be hard work for CFU and there will doubtless be times when those involve will take a moment to wonder about their sanity in taking on such a job in the first place. However, the will is there and the passion and belief are there. For Chester City supporters, today is the first day of the rest of their lives.

As a final aside, it is worth taking a moment to congratulate the Football Conference for making a courageous decision – one which may have gone against their natural instincts and seemed unlikely, on the basis of a couple of public statements made during the week, to come to pass. They have shown clear resolve in making this decision, and it is easy to understand how they could have fudged it again, even though it would have been the wrong decision to make. The league has rescued its credibility and integrity in making this decision.

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    25 Comments

  1. As a vice-pesident and shareholder of another local club, I have great sympathy for the genuine fans of Chester City FC.
    Many years ago, you were one of our biggest rivals. Despite this, I was there at Sealand Road cheering you on against the mighty Leeds United on that fantastic night : the 3-0 League Cup victory.
    I genuinely hope you can one day re-emerge as a proud club, but in the meantime if you really love football then swallow your pride. I’m sure the likes of Tranmere Rovers, Macclesfield Town, Crewe Alexandra, Stockport County, Northwich Victoria, Vauxhall Motors, or Cammell Lairds would very much appreciate your support.

    Geoff Lawler

    February 26, 2010

  2. A tough time for all Chester supporters (even those of us up in Canada). Seems like a hell of a long time ago I was on the Sealand road end watching Alan oakes, Trevor Storton and Paul Crossley.
    Good luck for the future and definitely hope that you can get rid of that scavenger Vaughan, how he is not serving time is beyond me.

    Kev in Canada

    February 26, 2010

  3. I feel I must congratulate the football club representatives who voted today but NOT the Conference itself who, rather than make the correct decision themselves, decided to defer (or be able to blame, should things go wrong) to the Clubs in the league they administer to. A bit spineless for a governing body.
    A number of clubs must have voted against their own best interests today in order to do the right thing and I thank them for putting football and the fans first in this instance.
    I look forward to reading about an AFC Chester City type team in the future run by the fans, for the fans and with the blessing of all the fans – good luck!

    Lol

    February 26, 2010

  4. Can I just take this opportunity to thank you Ian for your superb articles over the past few months, they have been excellent.

    I hope that we can re-build a club that we can once again be proud of. There is a lot of hard work ahead, we know that this should not be underestimated.

    If we get up and running again, I am sure that you will be very welcome.

    MPW

    February 26, 2010

  5. Judging by some of the vicious & rude half wits that inhabit the Devachat message board I really hope that they are not representative of the CFU as a whole who are making all the right noises – but have to now make the right decisions.

    The hard work starts now and the eyes of all Chester supporters will be on those that have the dreams of many in their hands. People will not be forgiving if the very people who called for the death of the club and treated the Danish people like lepers now act like rabbits in the headlights.

    I really hope they have some seasoned professional advisors on board as enthusiastic amateurs just don’t cut it at this level.

    Good luck to them I say – although they need a lot more than luck to resurrect the club from scratch.

    James Loxten

    February 26, 2010

  6. Totally agree James, lots and lots of hard work for CFU and their supporters in the widest sense. For all the council’s positive noises they have to listen to all ‘offers’ for the tenancy of the Deva stadium and are duty bound to go with whoever they feel presents the best case. No special treatment for a SD backed bid and nor should there be so lets hope they can get a good working plan in place in whatever timeframe the council have

    Echo Lol’s comments in praise of the Conference clubs rather than the Conference who have hardly come out of this smelling of roses

    Tony

    February 26, 2010

  7. From what I have read so far on this subject the above comments from James Loxton seem rather misplaced.
    Indeed CCFC’s future is in their (the supporters) hands, baring any more interference from the Danes and/or Stephen Vaughan Snr who, incidentally, still has the cheek to put himself up on skysports as a spokesman for the club after being disqualified from ownership (work that one out!)
    I don’t know where the Lepers analogy comes from either as that would infer that the supporters were not willing to speak to the Danes representatives. They did talk and the supporters didn’t like what they heard – it’s as simple as that! Maybe the links with the Vaughan family seemed too close or maybe the fact there was no organizational or financial stability or background was the problem.
    “Good luck to them” you say – well if they speak to the right people like FCUM, AFC Wimbledon and Halifax etc.. they won’t need it as these clubs have similar support to Chester City and are doing OK as far as I can see! They don’t need luck – they need a clean start and hopefully that’s what they will get now.

    Lol

    February 26, 2010

  8. Thank God this sorry stretched-out saga is just about over. It should have happened last August when failed to fulfil their first match.

    Spineless BSP Management.

    Bernard

    February 26, 2010

  9. I was speaking to a Wrexham fan in the pub this evening (randomly, in Cambridge) who was not celebrating- after all, no-one ever wants to see their local opposition die, regardless of the bile and venom you sing and shout come derby day. It’s very sad that it has come to this for Chester, but at the very least, there is a road back available- when this happens north of the border the path back is far less clear cut.

    Al

    February 26, 2010

  10. Rumour has it that the Conference board just did not have the authority to eject Chester City themselves: the decision had to be made by the member clubs.

    The Conference has been caught between a rock and a hard place throughout this whole thing: the Football League on one side, the Football Association on the other.

    Rob C

    February 27, 2010

  11. Oh, and just to stress, the success or failure of any phoenix club is down to all Chester fans, not just the CFU. Get involved: you’ll love it!

    Rob C

    February 27, 2010

  12. Chester City 2004 is still alive and trading. I can’t believe the CFU think they will just walk into a fully functional, ready to go stadium! The pitch will be destroyed (£100.000.00), CCTV inoperable and so on.

    I hope the CFU understand that 28 days notice must be given by the council. That is 28 days of Vaughan removing all the equipment that belongs to Chester City FC 2004 Ltd.

    £10,000.00! They had best hold some emergency dinners with guest speakers before the new season. I think they will need every penny they can get for stadium restoration and merchandising.

    You have got what you campaigned for, but i am unconvinced that anyone of the electorates is qualified, or experienced enough to be responsible for the allocation and distribution of donations. Jeff Banks’s experience of football at the Deva is getting in for free as a carer for over 5 years, and then provididng voice over commentary for DVD’s.

    Were doomed before we start!

    Darren

    February 27, 2010

  13. At last this whole sorry episode is over. With CCFC run by “unsavoury people” that you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy and the constant fudging of the Conference, the last few months must have been hell for all Chester fans.

    Now the hard work really starts! There are lots of fans of other clubs who have been down similar roads and no doubt will offer as much help and support as they can.

    Good luck to all concerned with the re-birth of football in Chester.

    DARE TO DREAM………!

    SIMON

    SIMON MALLINSON

    February 27, 2010

  14. We should have brought back. Scales, Butcher McNeil Marsh Walters, Lee, Turner, Burdon, Yates Astbury. Hamilton. They played for’ peanuts’ but played their hearts out.

    Phil Jones

    February 27, 2010

  15. I’m an Oxford fan who had hoped to see you play us today. You have my sympathy for what has happened but I’m heartened to see your fans so positive about the future and hope you can follow in the steps of Wimbledon et al. Look forward to seeing you again in a few years time. All the best.

    Helen H

    February 27, 2010

  16. Just like to echo what everyone else has said – must be absolutely desperate for Chester fans this season, but at least now you can start picking up the pieces and rebuilding. Very, very best of luck in doing that.

    And more power to your elbow on this excellent blog – the coverage on here of the Chester farce has been superb (if inevitably depressing). Many of us would just not have known what was really going on if it hadn’t been for twohundredpercent. That goes, of course, for many of the other issues covered here. Brilliant blog, one of the first I now turn to for proper football news behind the shiny headlines

    Paul Davis

    February 27, 2010

  17. As a Wrexham fan I am personally gutted and I have great sympathy for Chester fans. Our clubs didn’t even get one last game against each other in the Deva! I hope you reform, good luck.

    Alex Lee

    February 27, 2010

  18. Ian, from a Chester supporter’s point of view, your grasp on the subject has been so precise I find it hard to believe you’re not one of us. Thanks for keeping a spotlight on our plight with such carefully researched facts, articulately delivered with a great deal of compassion. Always a pleasure to read, knowing that the situation is understood by others on the outside.

    The reality is very hard to stomach at the moment, but as you perfectly well stated, the time has come to rebuild a club that the people of Chester and surrounding areas can be proud of. Although, we’re not sure we’ve seen the last of Vaughan just yet…

    Pete

    February 27, 2010

  19. AFC Wimbledon’s Erik Samuelson gets on the Conference Board and their decisions finally improve. Is that a co-incidence?

    Good luck Chester fans.

    Martin

    February 27, 2010

  20. I should have Mentioned the excellent coverage this site has provided over this whole sorry affair. I look here first for the story without the spin. I am with you TwoHundredPercent.

    Lol

    February 27, 2010

  21. I have been a Chester City fan for well over 40years and have seen many highs and lows. This being the lowest .The only way now is up. If we want it to happen it will look at AFC Wimbledon ,we will be back.

    David

    February 28, 2010

  22. As a Wrexham fan, I have every sympathy with what you’ve gone through thanks to the actions of the not so “fit & proper” SV. He shouldn’t have been allowed near football after Barrow (shame on the FA & FL). Good luck in the future, and look forward to our derbies again one day.

    Robins31

    Tracy

    February 28, 2010

  23. Just want to pass on my best wishes to the chester fans at this horrible(or happy time as the vaughn’s can now f-off) .As a AFC Wimbledon fan i know what you are going through atm and im sure should your fans need help or advice then our club would willingly help as best we could. As they say it’s onwards and upwards for you now, i do hope our clubs will cross swords again at some point.
    Good luck

    AFCW fans :)

    AFC Wimbledon R US

    February 28, 2010

  24. Sorry to hear the bad news and good luck on the re-birth of your club. Does anyone know how this will affect the non-league feeder leagues to the conference? Promotions/Relegations etc???

    DJ

    March 1, 2010

  25. I am a Bournemouth fan and I’m sorry to say I cheered as loud as anyone when we beat you at the Deva a year ago. We thought those three points were priceless at the time, now I wish we could have given them back to you. If you had stayed in the league you may have stayed in business; if we had gone down instead we would surely have bounced back like Exeter, Torquay, Shrewsbury etc have done.
    The game needs clubs like yours (and ours) and true fans of all lower league clubs will wish you luck in getting Chester football club restarted in one form or another as soon as possible.
    Take heart from AFC Wimbledon and always keep the faith.
    Condolences and best wishes from all at AFCB.

    David Broom

    April 4, 2010

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