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NEWS FROM DEVA STADIUM 2001
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FANS FORUM 7 NOVEMBER 2001

Steve Vaughan opened by introducing his brother and business partner Roy, John Radege (Chief Exec), Jim Jones (Commercial Manager), Richard Lavender (Marketing Executive) and Steve Mungall.

The panel answered questions for over one and a half hours from around 100 supporters. The more important points are summarised below, though not necessarily in the order they were raised.

Steve Vaughan described himself as fully committed to the club which is clear will not be run as a one-man band. It is a business venture but he wants success, in a step by step approach, the first of which will be Football League status. He announced that he had already sold 20% of his 98% shareholding to true Chester City supporters who would come onto the Board of Directors. This will be formally announced over the next few days. He later described these people as the only serious bidders for the club from Smith, as opposed to what he described as time wasters. Shares will be available to anyone, including supporter groups, who wants to buy them but they will not be put on the open market for legal reasons.

He confirmed that Terry Smith and Gordon Hill have no further involvement with the club, and described his smokescreen approach of trying to buy Wayne Brown for Droylsden as a means of getting Smith round a table with himself and his brother. The deal was done in a matter of days. An arrangement of staged payments to Smith is in place. Steve Vaughan declared himself here to stay and will do what it takes to regain Football League status. He had severed his ties with Barrow at considerable financial loss (in answer to a question about his commitment), although he owned Droylsden and the adjacent pub as a business venture.

The horrendous task of taking over a company that had no books, no records, no minutes was described. John Radege said that due diligence was currently being done and formal methodologies will be put in place to run the club in a professional and democratic manner. An investment of £500K from Board members was mentioned. Of the problem areas, certain liabilities lie with Terry Smith and not the club. There are a number of options being looked at to overcome the debt problems, and forming a new company is just one which has been discussed. Doncaster apparently did this and the Conference is aware of the situation at Chester and helping. The majority of known debts are football related but with no records available, the final situation regarding non-football debts is still unclear.

Morrisons are still guarantors of the Stadium lease and discussions are already underway with the City Council with a view to getting rid of Morrisons' involvement. Multi-purpose use is essential to increase the income and is a key area of future investigation. Current financial shortfall is over 20K per month.

Discussions are underway with Bill Wingrove and Kevin Ratcliffe regarding settlement of claims on the Club and it was confirmed that there would be no winding up orders issued by either claimant. Questions were raised concerning the Luke Beckett money from Chesterfield, and Paul Beesley's registration. It was promised that these would also be looked into.

On playing matters, Steve Mungall was enjoying his job and was getting a good response from the players. A top eight spot to get an LDV Trophy place was this season's target. Extortionate fees would not be paid for new signings (such as the £70K quoted by Telford for the two players currently interesting City). Regular lists of available players are received. Squad building would continue through the season to have the right players in place prior to pre-season training. Steve Mungall, Bobby Murdoch (and Steve Vaughan) had many contacts which would be used, and pre contact agreements from January onwards will be taken advantage of under Bosman. The players needed lifting in confidence after Hill and they must take credit for their league performances since. Mutual respect between players and manager has been established. Most of the players have been looked at in the First team. There are certain problems with some contracts, and the loss of Bertocci to Bolton was cited as one example of a get out clause. The best players will certainly not be leaving. The crowd support has also been instrumental and it is hoped it will continue given the support base in the City. There are some very good players and teams at this level but referees were considered to be very poor, with inconsistency being a big problem (no surprise there!).

On the Commercial side, ideas were requested for shop items; junior shirts have been ordered; city centre outlets were a possibility, and the catering is being dealt with. New sponsorship is coming in already and local companies are being contacted with good results. Chester City TV is being brought back whilst expanding the social club is also being considered.

Recent talks with Sport England have also been encouraging, especially as only six weeks ago the Youth Development was likely to be closed down due to withdrawal of funding. An extension will be given subject to future discussions and guarantees regarding proper financial management. The possibility of an indoor arena, partly funded by Sports Match for youth development and other activities is also being examined.

It was promised that another forum would be held in a month's time when the full financial appraisal should be available.

Les Smith 8 Nov 2001
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