A little more than 18 months ago, Chester City were riding high in League Two and dreaming of promotion to the 3rd tier of English football.
Although their season subsequently nose-dived into oblivion, even the most pessimistic of Chester fans could never have forecast the events of the past couple of months. The existence of the border city club now hangs on the finest of threads and their involvement in the Blue Square Premier Division has been stalled by financial crisis and continued difficulties regarding their league membership for the current campaign.
Chester’s slide to obscurity almost went unnoticed as the nation focused their attentions on the plight of Luton Town last season. Although the Hatters, Bournemouth and Rotherham all started last season with a negative points total, it was Chester who dropped into the bottom two with the Bedfordshire club.
Since then, Chester have slid into administration and seen a HMRC objection to their Company Voluntary Arrangement upheld. The FA refused affiliation to the troubled club while a ruling was awaited and the BSP had refused to recognise Chester City as a member for the current campaign.
Yesterday, the club was finally given the green light to begin their season against Cambridge United this coming weekend after the postponement of the games against Grays Athletic and Gateshead.
Even so, the club look set to begin their season with a 25 point deduction subject to appeal.
The BSP have already been fined £5,000 for their poor handling of the matter and advised to review their rules on insolvency by the turn of the year. The additional 15 point deduction thrown at Chester City has grave similarities to the situation Luton Town found themselves in at this stage last season. One hopes the appeal system will override it.
Ironically it was the support of the Football League that helped Chester on their way to inclusion in the BSP this season. Without their own integrity to preserve, the FL have done amazing job of displaying double standards that won’t sit too well at Kenilworth Road.
The FA, despite their own refusal to accept Chester as members at one stage, seems happy to pass the responsibility of the whole affair to the BSP.
As usual, nobody wants to take the blame.
Stephen Vaughan continues to see his new tenure at Chester City overshadowed by the mixed feeling of supporters who clearly lack faith in his interests regarding the club, and you definitely get the feeling that things aren’t over just yet.
Most importantly, the fans get to see their side kick off the new season at last and that’s all that really matters for now. We continue to wish them well.