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Thursday, 18 April, 2002, 13:46 GMT 14:46 UK
Chester celebrate Wright choice
Chester manager Mark Wright
Mark Wright has saved Chester from relegation
By BBC Sport Online's Pete Oliver

It┐s been a rocky road in recent times. But having plumbed the depths, Chester City finally look to be on their way back to footballing respectability.

Just seven years ago, City were playing in the Second Division of the Nationwide League.

Next season, they would have been in the UniBond League but for the appointment of Mark Wright as manager.

Wright returned to the Nationwide Conference, where he had cut his managerial teeth with Southport, after an ill-fated few months in charge at Oxford United.


Everything that we planned has come off
Stephen Vaughan
Chester chairman
City were second-bottom of the table and had already dispensed with Gordon Hill and Steve Mungall as managers when the former Liverpool and England defender moved into the Deva Stadium hot-seat at New Year.

Since then it┐s been a steady climb away from trouble and victory over Farnborough on Tuesday night guaranteed safety and elevation to 14th-place in the table.

┐Everything that we planned has come off,┐ said chairman Stephen Vaughan.

┐We brought Mark Wright in to keep us up and we┐ve ended up challenging for an LDV Vans Trophy place.

"That would be a bonus, though. It┐s been mission accomplished.

Vaughan's role

┐We┐re safe and we can look forward to building for the future and hopefully getting a side together which will give us a championship challenge.

"We want to get back into the Football League as soon as possible.┐

Wright has firmly re-established his managerial credentials and Vaughan is looking to secure the 38-year-old┐s long-term future at Chester.

He added: ┐That┐s no problem. We will sit down in the next few days and work out where we are going. Mark Wright is fully committed to Chester City.

┐He lives 15 minutes away and he is a big part of the future of the club. It was a bit of kudos getting the lad here in the first place and the misfortune at Oxford has been our gain.

┐We believe people will be desperate to come to this club in pre-season because Mark Wright is at the helm.┐

Not that it has been a one-man job, however, and Vaughan must also take his share of the credit for saving Chester.

City fell out of the League two years ago when Terry Smith owned the club.

Investment

The controversial former American footballer had even had a crack at managing the team himself and with fed-up fans turning their backs on the club, Chester had become a laughing stock.

Liverpool businessman Vaughan finally took control at the Deva Stadium last October and is still paying off creditors.

The major one was former manager Kevin Ratcliffe, who has now been paid a settlement following his departure, under Smith, in 1999.

Smith is still claiming money from Chester but Vaughan prefers to look forward.

┐Let him substantiate those claims. He can┐t. We┐ll leave that to the courts,┐ he said.

Vaughan has just injected a ┐large amount of capital┐ in the club and believes the only way is forward, with several new signings expected in the summer to sustain a promotion challenge next season when two clubs are set to go up from the Conference.

He said: ┐We have a stadium that would grace the First Division and a crowd base.

"We are a city and at the moment a big fish in a small pool, which we want to get out of as quickly as possible.┐

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