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 Tuesday, 5 November, 2002, 09:56 GMT
Grounds for concern
Chester City's Deva Stadium
Could the Deva Stadium be Tranmere's new home?
Chester owner Stephen Vaughan has tabled a 5m bid for Tranmere's Prenton Park ground.

And if they win promotion from the Nationwide Conference, Vaughan wants to move Tranmere 10 miles down the road to the Deva Stadium.

But as our two correspondents explain below, the ground-sharing suggestion has already sparked fury among both sets of fans...




The truth is out. The darker side of Chester City's white knight has been exposed at last.

As if we couldn't have seen it coming.

Supporters of Barrow FC have been counting the cost of Stephen Vaughan's ruinous ownership ever since his "investment" was revealed as a loan before he headed off to the Deva Stadium.

Ground-sharing is now the new money-spinner for Vaughan Promotions, is it?

What happened to the bold, confidence-inspiring plans to take Chester back into the Football League?

Or is this harebrained union with Tranmere supposed to sidestep the messy business of Conference promotion and instead catapult Mark Wright's team straight into the Second Division?

Presuming Mark Wright still has a job.

Chester supporters fought to save the club from Terry Smith, the self-obsessed American chairman.

Chester boss Mark Wright
Wright is eyeing promotion with Chester
They believed in Chester City not because they wanted it submerged in some crazy Wirral makeover which will kill football in Chester at a stroke.

Mergers are for stock markets, not football clubs. Chester City has a history (however troubled) and an identity, near and far, that have nothing to do with Tranmere Rovers.

Football clubs don't mix. Try to understand that, Mr Vaughan. It doesn't matter how close they are.

Nobody wanted Thames Valley Royals in the 1980s, except Robert Maxwell.

Nobody wants Wimbledon in Milton Keynes, except misguided financiers.

And nobody in their right mind would support this nonsense scheme.

Save your money for Chester City, and do the business for the club and the supporters as you have consistently promised.

Please.




Dark clouds have been hovering over Prenton Park since the summer when Tranmere chairman Lorraine Rogers simultaneously sacked manager David Watson and announced the club was up for sale.

The price is 6m - the amount owed to former owner Peter Johnson, who is still due the gratitude of every Tranmere fan for bank-rolling the club's most successful decade.

A supporters' trust has been set up to try and finance a takeover but it seems the only realistic bid has come from Chester chairman Vaughan.

The back pages on the Wirral this weekend have been dominated by talk of ground-sharing at Chester's Deva Stadium for a couple of years, a new stadium mid-way between the two towns and even a merger.

Tranmere have done their best to dismiss the reports, but many supporters are understandbly sceptical.

Tranmere boss Ray Mathias
Mathias has his work cut out at Tranmere

Rogers has publicly mused about moving from Prenton Park for a number of years.

And with the stadium on prime real estate on the outskirsts of the town, its sale would allow Vaughan or whoever to finance a takeover for far less than 6m.

But it would be footballing suicide for Tranmere.

Moving from a modern 16,000-seat stadium to share with a non-league club 10 miles away in a ground holding 6,000 smacks of a lack of ambition.

Chester are our traditional rivals and I'm sure their supporters wouldn't want us there anyway.

FA rules also prevent one person owning two clubs so what would Mr Vaughan do?

Tranmere have said already they are committed to keeping the club on the Wirral, but in what form?

Mergers just cause anguish and suspicion amongst supporters. Very few Tranmere or Chester supporters would go to watch Dee Estuary Rovers in the future.


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