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Saturday, 27 October, 2001, 11:28 GMT 12:28 UK
Chester back on track
Chester have been inspired by Mick O'Brien (left.)
Chester have been inspired by Mick O'Brien (left.)
Chester are on the up since Stephen Vaughan took over as chairman.

But the club is not out of the financial mire yet, as the Deva boss told BBC Sport Online's Gabrielle Lewis.

Stephen Vaughan is no stranger to controversy.

So his arrival at Nationwide Conference club Chester barely registered a shockwave.

Yet it is a marriage that has led to hushed whispers in the corridors of non-league power.

Vaughan was arrested on allegations of laundering of millions of pounds of supposed drugs money in November 1998.

He was never charged with any offence, but admits he is unlikely to shrug off the stigma.

When you take away the debt, there is a first-class set up at Chester City for which you would get no change out of 3m
Chester City owner Stephen Vaughan

The incident contributed to the Liverpudlian boxing promoter's exit from Barrow, where he was owner and chairman.

He had ploughed over 250,000 into the club and bankrolled wages to acquire the talent that won promotion to the Conference.

But shortly after his departure, Barrow went into liquidation with debts of about 500,000 and were kicked out of the Conference due to a cash crisis.

Vaughan has taken over as chairman at the Deva Stadium and brought in his company, Vaughan Promotions Limited, to run the club and work through issues appertaining to the era under his predecessor, Terry Smith.

There are writs against the club from former employees owed money, including ex-managers Kevin Ratcliffe and Graham Barrow.

Smith himself has issued a writ comprising 22 claims against the Football League and the Football Association.

Then there was the question over Vaughan's dual interest in Barrow, ironically drawn by Chester in the FA Cup fourth qualifying round.

The 40-year-old's still owned shares in the Holker Street outfit, which had to be signed over to a third party for the tie to take place - a matter Vaughan described as an "oversight".

But the City supremo views the Bumpers Lane baggage as a challenge.

"There were no books, minutes or documents relating to any of the issues when I took over, so all the legal matters are in the hands of our solicitors," Vaughan said.

"But when you take away the debt, there is a first-class set up at Chester City for which you would get no change out of 3m.

"The best way forward may be to form a new company, so we can push for promotion next season.

"We're getting control of the situation and tidying the whole mess up.

"I've made mistakes myself, but I know football and my sports management company are capable of taking this under our wing."

Vaughan's changes are already bringing the fans who boycotted the club under Smith's regime flocking back.

The appointment of former Tranmere Rovers stalwart, Steve Mungall, as ousted manager Gordon Hill's replacement, brought seven points in his first three matches.

And Vaughan has managed to motivate the squad, complete with new arrivals, midfielders Brent Baxter, from Accrington Stanley, and Mick O'Brien, from Torquay.

"We're staying full-time and, as long as the money is still coming into the club, we can concentrate on the first team," Vaughan added.

"More signings will follow as we consolidate this year and I've given the players an incentive to go as far as we can in the FA Cup by offering them 10% of anything we make from a run.

"The fans will also have a big say in the way I run the club. There are no hidden agendas."

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