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Page last updated at 16:16 GMT, Friday, 7 August 2009 17:16 UK

Chester match at Grays called off

Chester City

Saturday's Blue Square Premier season opener between Grays Athletic and Chester City has been called off, reports BBC Radio Merseyside.

City had only been cleared to play on Thursday by the Football Conference, although being deducted 25 points.

The Football Association have now told the Conference they are breaching rules in allowing Chester to play.

But a statement from the Conference late on Friday night hopes that the matter 'will be speedily resolved'.

The statement issued on the Conference website read: "In view of the FA's decision to review the decision of the Football Conference to grant Chester City membership for season 2009/10, the Conference has decided that it is in the interest of the integrity of all competitions and indeed the club, to postpone the club's first fixture against Grays Athletic.

"The Football Conference hopes that this matter will be speedily resolved to enable Chester City to fulfil its fixtures without further disruption to the club and the competition."

At the same time, the postponement has cast new doubts over Chester's very future as a football club.

Without affiliation to the FA, Chester already knew that they would be unable to take their place in the Blue Square Premier next season. And (with Gateshead scheduled to play at the Deva Stadium next Tuesday night, 1945 BST), their long-term fate is expected to become clearer over the next few days.

Chester, who spent most of last season up for sale without attracting any buyers, were relegated from League Two in May.

"It seems that the ratification of the points deductions have not been validated by the FA as yet, so our match is off.

Grays Athletic communications director Kevin Lamb

Their owner Stephen Vaughan then allowed the financially struggling club to enter administration, a decision which ensured an automatic 10-point deduction.

But alarm bells started ringing at the FA when the Vaughan family then bought a 100% share of the club to resume control following a creditors' meeting in June.

Grays communications director Kevin Lamb said the very late call-off had still come as a surprise, despite all the recent turmoil surrounding crisis club Chester.

Lamb told BBC Essex: "It seems that the ratification of the points deductions have not been validated by the FA as yet, so our match is off.

"Having had a statement from the Conference telling the clubs that are playing Chester very soon that everything was going to go ahead, we planned for the game happening.

"We have got everything ready, the programmes have been done and the tickets have been printed, so we're losing money on this."

When asked if Grays would be seeking compensation, Lamb added: "We certainly are, and we're going to discuss how we can go ahead against the FA and the Conference."

While Chester wait to find out their fate as a senior football club, one step they have already been forced to take is the closure of their Centre of Excellence.

City have lost 50% of the funding following relegation from League Two. But plans to continue even on a reduced programme have now had to be curtailed.

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see also
Chester hit by 25-point penalty
06 Aug 09 |  Chester
Chester hope for FA affiliation
30 Jul 09 |  Chester
More turmoil at troubled Chester
29 Jul 09 |  Chester
Vaughan family buy Chester City
11 Jun 09 |  Chester

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