To the surprise of absolutlely nobody that knows anything as much as an iota about the way in which they run themselves, the Football Conference bowed down at the altar of Stephen Vaughan for (depending on which way you look at it) either the second, third or fourth time yesterday. They decided, having issued a stern warning to the club at the end of last week, to adjourn the issue of whether this hollowed out, withered shell of a club can actually, realistically, viably continue to trade for anything like the long term future yesterday for another three weeks.
It was another feeble, supine decision, which yet again lends credence to the idea that actually the game is being run by a bunch of spineless fools that turn up for meetings with people that both they and we know deep down inside have been laughing at them behind their backs. They failed a CVA because they couldn’t even prove that they owed the money that they claimed to owe to a company owned by the chairman (who had, of course, transferred ownership ofsaid club into his son’s name a couple of months prior to the club entering into administration) and then, under the self-imposed veil of secrecy that these meetings carry with them, continued to fail to pay their football debts.
Fittingly, Chester City played Barrow in the FA Cup on Saturday and, after a 1-1 draw, they will play them again at The Deva Stadium tomorrow night. It is fitting because the last time the two clubs met, both clubs were owned by Stephen Vaughan, who sold his shareholding in Barrow to his painter and decorator a couple of days before the match for a token amount and bought them back on the Monday after the match. Considering the lack of official censure that he received over that little escapade, it would be hardly surprising if he felt that he could get away with anything. Whether that many people bother to turn out to watch the match tomorrow night, however, is a different matter.
Yesterday lunchtime the football gods shone down with a degree of providence at the FA Cup draw when they awarded the winners of the tie a First Round match against Eastleigh – mid-table in the Blue Square South and based barely ten miles from the south coast of England. This wasn’t the money-spinner that Vaughan may have been hoping for. The three week stay of execution, however, is significant. In three weeks’ time, the winners of the Eastleigh match will know who their opponents are in the Second Round match. If a little extra money has come through the gates of The Deva Stadium by then, it is likely that the club’s significant current football creditors, Wrexham and Vauxhall Motors, will be paid in full and the club will be permitted to stagger on for another few weeks, or months, or however long it takes until the next crisis rears its head.
When this will crisis will be remains unknown, but Vaughan won in August even after his club’s proposed CVA was thrown out by a court for “material irregularity”, and he is still there now. Will Director of Football Eric Whalley, who jumped ship from Accrington Stanley during the summer, presumably having not paid the tax man for some time considering the £308,000 that they have had to find over the last few weeks to stave off a winding up order brought by HMRC, put some money in? Have the Football League been leaning on the Football Conference to keep Chester afloat no matter what?
And when the Football Conference’s General Manager Dennis Strudwick says that, “All sides have responded to the situation and are willing to enter talks to come to a resolution. The Football Conference, Football League and Chester City will be sitting down for formal talks soon in order to give everybody a fair chance to put their case and work towards a solution”, what does he mean? These questions and more have yet to be answered. Anyone hoping for full, frank and clear answers to the ongoing questions – both moral and practical – concerning the ongoing existence of Chester City Football Club would be best advised to not hold their breath.