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Archive for December, 2009

Local press reports have tipped midfield player Anthony Barry to be the first to leave the Deva Stadium when the January Transfer window opens in a matter of hours. 

Reports suggest Barry may well have played his last game for the troubled Deva Stadium club, with at least two clubs preparing to offer the former Everton trainee a contract.

Barry, along with a number of other Chester first team squad players, have been watched regularly over the past months as the Football Conference basement clubs financial woes gathered momentum. A number of the senior players are still awaiting their November salaries, and the December wages become due next week.

It is understood that ambitious Fleetwood Town are preparing to offer Barry terms, whilst Wrexham are also known to be keen to add the midfielder to their payroll.

Barry suffered an unfortunate training ground hamstring injury last Wednesday which will keep him out of action until next week, and with the transfer window opening on Friday it is expected he will move on.

Barry is in his second full season with City, after joining from Yeovil Town in June 2008. The player started his career as a junior with Everton, before enjoying spells with Coventry City and Accrington Stanley, he joined Yeovil in January 2006.

Other City players who have been watched by other clubs recently and could well be on the move in the transfer window are central defender Shaun Kelly, former Wales youth international midfield player James Owen, and ex Everton striker Nick Chadwick. Any outgoings will reduce Chester’s playing strength to farcical levels, which will make the hardworking City boss Jim Harvey’s job even more difficult.

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The latest episode of the Chester City Soap Opera kicked in earlier this afternoon when it was announced by the Blues that controversial former Halesowen Town owner and manager Morell Maison is now in full charge at Chester City Football Club.

A club statement, that was released at ten to four earlier this afternoon, also confirmed that chairman Ian Anderson and managing director Bob Gray have stepped down from their positions.

The full statement reads:

“Following today’s meeting at the Deva Stadium hosted by the board of directors with all non-playing staff in attendance, the following was announced – Ian Anderson has stepped down as chairman, Bob Gray has stepped down as managing director and resigned his position as a company director.

“Morell Maison assumes responsibility for the running of the football club with immediate effect. This will entail taking an option over the Vaughan family ownership.

“Further information will be available shortly regarding new investment into the club and a new board of directors.”

Maison enjoyed a successful spell in charge of Kettering Town, working alongside director of football Ron Atkinson, before resurfacing at Halesowen, where he was banned from football for three months after a post-match altercation with one of his own players.

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It appears Morell Maison has indeed been appointed director of football at Chester City according to press reports coming out of the local press since the weekend.

It is hard to see how Mr Maison’s arrival will make things better for them. His experience of dealing with players that haven’t been paid may come in useful though!!

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Statistics released by the Home Office have revealed that eight Chester City supporters were arrested at Football League matches during the 2008-2009.  All eight arrests were made at away grounds (presumably at the Wrexham match?).

Click here to read the full report (PDF) from the Home Office:

http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/documents/Football%20Arrest%20BO%20Statistics%202008-09.pdf?view=Binary

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Wright spoke to Soccer Extra about his three stints as manager of Chester. Wright was at the helm at Chester in 2002-04; 2006-07 and then went back for more in 2008.

“I haven’t got a clue really,” joked Wright when he was asked why he went back three times.

“It was being back home and the they were really struggling and were probably going to go down into the Uni Bond league.

“But we managed to stop it and then get promotion within two years back into the football league. Then certain things happened and I thought it was best to go. I went to Peterborough under Barry Fry who was an amazing character.

“Things did not quite work out there between Barry and myself and I had stayed in touch with Stephen Vaughan the chairman at Chester. They were in a right predicament and they asked me to go back until the end of the season to see what I could do.

“I turned up and there were 23 players and within a month we only had 13 players. I was playing three or four kids of 16 years old in the side. They had no chance of staying up.

“It is a sad story, the chairman has put a lot of money into the club but things had not gone right for him. And now they have been docked 25 points and they will probably go down into the Conference North.”

 Managing at the sharp end of football is a great place to learn your trade although Wright does warn that it can change very quickly indeed.

“Just because you play at the highest level does not mean that you know what it is like to manage,” added Wright. ”

Instead of just looking after yourself when you play, you have to look after a squad of 20-22 players which is a completely different ball game. To go down to that level and really learn your trade is very important. In the year we got out of the Conference and into the football league, Swansea City came for me but I couldn’t leave the side I had put together when we were so close to winning a league.

“Then all of a sudden everything is turned on it’s head – from being very successful and winning the league and getting a good name for yourself to all of a sudden you have to leave.

“It is hard down there but it is a great grounding and if I had the opportunity again I would definitely consider it – as long as it is the right place because I think I have a lot to offer.”

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Macclesfield Town 4 Crewe Alexandra 1
With Chester City’s perilous position no longer of much interest to me (unless the football club ownership issues that cloud the Deva Stadium are addressed) , I was delighted to be a guest at the Macclesfield Town’s first ever competitive football league clash against their East Cheshire rivals, Crewe Alexandra, at the Moss Rose earlier today.
I must say, what a well run little football club Macclesfield Town is.  Visiting Moss Rose today was a welcome reminder of Chester City’s two year exile across the Cheshire Plain back in the early nineties and the countless double decker bus journeys back and too across the county.  Those days seems a distant memory given the current soap opera being played out at the Deva Stadium.
On the pitch I was equally delighted to see Crewe Alexandra on the end of a Macclesfield onslaught in an absorbing opening thirty minutes. Heavy conditions and a revamped side can’t be blamed for a desperate show at the back as Macclesfield dished out a festive thumping to Dario Gradi’s men.  He clearly has his work cut out if he want’s to achieve a play-off berth.  On today’s showing, they’ll be lucky to avert a relegation dogfight.
Big striker Ben Wright nudged the Silkmen ahead and Crewe were in serious trouble by the time Paul Bolland and Colin Daniel struck further first-half goals.  The latter a 35 yard stunner that could be a candidate for goal of the season.  What a screamer!
Calvin Zola, initially rested on the bench, cut Macc’s lead midway through the second half and Crewe looked dangerous in the final half-hour. But substitute Ricky Sappleton put a seal on Macc’s stellar show in stoppage time.
It was great to see former blue Sean Hessey doing well.  He bossed the Macclesfield back four with ease, although he visibly tired significantly as the second half wore on.  In the Crewe line up I felt for young Matt Toottle, another member of the world famous Crewe Alexandra Academy production line of talent.  The young lad, who had only made four previous appearances for the Alex was given the run around by an active Macclesfield right wing display.  He has a lot to learn, but we all have to start somewhere.
MACCLESFIELD TOWN: Brain, Reid, Tremarco (Bell, 83), Morgan, Brown, Draper, Bolland, Hessey, Wright (Sappleton, 71), Sinclair (Brisley, 65), Daniel. Subs not used: Veiga, Rooney, Wilson, Lowe.
CREWE ALEXANDRA: Phillips, Brayford, Tootle, O’Donnell, Worley, Murphy, Westwood, Schumacher, Shelley (Zola, 62), Moore (Miller, 77), Donaldson. Subs not used: Legzdins, Billy Jones, Ada, Mitchel-King, Walton.
Attendance: 3,449.

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Another excellent article pinged back from those wonderful guys at twohundredpercent.
The festive period may have come and gone, but the confusing world of the ownership of football clubs continues to rumble on. The recent break has seen developments involving two names that have graced these pages before, Morell
Maison and John Batchelor. with mixed results. Maison came to our attention because of his time in charge at Southern League club Halesowen Town, but has now resurfaced at, of all places, Chester City, where he was announced as their
new Director of Football on Boxing Day.
During his time at the club, the Yeltz were kicked out of the FA Cup and the FA Trophy by the Football Association, ran up horrifying debts, were boycotted by the club’s own supporters, had the West Midlands Police Economic Crime Unit
investigating allegations of fraud at the club and ended up being released on bail by the police over the matter. There are several aspects of this appointment that are curious, though. The first is the issue of whether he is being paid or not because, if he is, he’s doing better than the players, who are believed not to have been paid since November.
The second interesting aspect of this is the issue of Stephen Vaughan’s continuing interest in the club. Vaughan failed the Football Association’s Fit & Proper test when he was banned as a company director because of his admission of
carousel fraud, and should have offloaded his interest in the club by the middle of December. It was, however, Vaughan that was reported as having met Maison and as recently as the 22nd of December Vaughan was confirmed as not having sold his share in the club, although he told the Liverpool Daily Post that a consortium had “due-dilligence on the football club and I am now hoping we can expect a completion of a deal before the new year”. Three days left, then.
There is, amid all of this bad news, a small chink of light for Chester City supporters. Yet another of the serial football club owners whose name had occasionally been mentioned in association with the club (and another bête noire
of this site), John Batchelor, can now scrub his name off the list of buying any football clubs in the near future. Batchelor was ruinously involved at York City earlier in the decade, was sniffing around Mansfield Town earlier this year and described himself as an asset-stripper in his involvement in football clubs, but he has now been banned from acting as a company director for seven years.
Batchelor, who seemed to take a perverse pride in what he seemed to believe was no more than being plain speaking but seemed only to alarm anybody connected with any football club that he went within ten miles of, was investigated by the Insolvency Service’s Disqualification Investigation Team over his conduct in the affairs of two companies that he was acting as a director of, Moornate Chemists Limited and The Besglos Polish Company Limited. He was found to have been making payments to himself – the sum total being around £50,000 – while he knew that these two companies were insolvent. They both went into administration in the summer of 2007 with debts of £750,000.
The full extent of Batchelor’s asset-stripping, therefore, is clear. While at York City, he took £120,000 on sponsorship out of the club and diverted it towards his motor racing team. Of the twenty-four companies of which he has been
a director, fourteen had been struck off the companies register and six have been insolvent. He would, however, still have passed the Football Association’s Fit & Proper Persons test until his disqualification was announced. As we have
seen repeatedly over the last few months, though, it is almost impossible for anyone to be declared as unfit and improper to run a football club unless an outside organisation such as the Insolvency Service gets involved first.
Chester City will finish 2009 with a negative points tally after their match this afternoon was postponed. No-one at the Football Conference, the Football League or the Football Association has yet made a public statement on the
startling success of their decision to allow Vaughan to perform what could best be described as a “switcheroo” during the summer. Exactly who will benefit, and in what way, from the involvement of Morell Maison at Chester City Football Club is anybody’s guess, and the bare fact of the matter is that there is precious little to suggest that the issues surrounding the ownership of the club has been resolved. Still, at least John Batchelor now cannot get his paws on another football club for a few years, which is a start.

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