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Chester City wound up in High Court

The gates are closed at the Deva Stadium, home of Chester City Football Club
The gates are closed at the Deva Stadium, home of Chester City

Chester City have been wound up at a High Court hearing in London.

The 126-year-old club, who were kicked out of the Football Conference on 26 February, owed HM Revenue & Customs £26,125 in unpaid taxes.

Chester supporters group City Fans United now intend to start a new 'phoenix' club in a lower league.

And, working closely alongside the local city council, the CFU have already put in an application to the Football Association for a licence.

An FA spokesperson said in a statement on Wednesday afternoon: "The FA notes today's decision of the High Court in relation to Chester City.

"The winding-up of any club is a loss to the game and in particular to the supporters of that club.

"In order to maintain a senior football club in the city of Chester, The FA will welcome applications if the club wishes to reform.

"Any such applications will be considered by The FA's Leagues Committee."

We've already had several meetings with the council, which have been very positive. They've been extremely helpful and we hope we might be allowed to start again at Unibond level

City Fans United spokesman Jeff Banks

The CFU, who hope that City can reform at Unibond League level, have also rapidly distanced themselves from an application made by Chester to join the Welsh football system.

"We understand that was a last-ditch effort by our former owner Stephen Vaughan to keep hold of the club," CFU spokesman Jeff Banks told BBC Sport.

"But we would have had to have started at the very bottom.

"And it would have been rejected out of hand in any case by our local council, who say we are an English club and should be playing in an English league.

"We've already had several meetings with Cheshire West & Chester Council, which have been very positive. We've shown them a business plan, they've been extremely helpful and we hope we might be allowed to start again at Unibond level."

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The CFU had already withdrawn their support, having organised a boycott of home games in protest at the way the club had been run by the owners, the Vaughan family.

But this just speeded up City's demise, the club having already been facing financial problems because of badly falling attendances over the last two years.

From an average home attendance at the Deva Stadium of 2,964 per game in 2005/06, that dropped to 2,473 the following season before holding at 2,479 in 2007/08.

But gates dropped badly again last term to 1,972 when Chester were relegated from the Football League for the second time in nine years.

And, over the first half of this season, they plummeted even further, as City averaged only 1,290 for the first 12 league games of the campaign.

At this point, the CFU supporters boycott kicked in and only 425 fans, the lowest league attendance in the club's history, turned up for the Salisbury game on 19 January.

And, for what proved to be Chester City's last-ever game at the Deva Stadium in their then existing form on 6 February, there were only 460 on hand to see a 2-1 home defeat by Ebbsfleet.

It's a sad day for the club. And a very emotional one

Former Chester City managing director Rob Gray

With so little money coming in at the turnstiles, the club being denied discretionary parachute payments by the Football League and their overall reported debts understood to run to close to £200,000, the Chester players went unpaid.

And when after two previous threats of strike action, the players opted not to board the team bus to Forest Green on 9 February, that effectively triggered the beginning of the end for City.

Former Chester managing director Rob Gray, who has stayed on at the club in an unpaid capacity over the last two months, said: "It's a sad day for the club. And a very emotional one.

"We're in the hands of the receivers now," he told BBC Sport. "And my only hope right now is that a deal can be done quickly so that the staff here can keep their jobs.

"Then I hope that someone can come in and resurrect the club and allow Chester City to carry on playing football.

"But, whatever level we end up at, it has to be a level the club is comfortable at financially. Anything beyond that is a bonus."

One piece of positive news for the CFU as they bid to take over the day-to-day running of the club is that they should be able to keep their Deva Stadium home.

"Cheshire West & Chester Council own the ground, which they leased to the old Chester City Football Club," added CFU spokesman Banks. "But, after the old club went into administration last May, the ground was not legally assigned to the new club, who were allowed to carry on playing there only on a goodwill agreement.

"And the eviction process is now underway to remove the current ownership."



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