While the hot news today may be David Beckham‘s return to Old Trafford, the news relegated to a few words in the tickers is the death of Chester City Football Club. 125 years of history has been ended after Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) won a court judegment that concluded that Chester was unable to pay the outstanding £26,000 tax bill nor continue as a going concern. An appeal has been ruled out and supporters plan to form a ‘phoenix’ club able to play in competitions by next season.
Chester’s demise marks the end of a period of financial turmoil for the club which saw dwindling gate receipts and unpaid players refusing to play matches. Chester is certainly not unique in its troubles, Watford narrowly escaped liquidation after having debts recalled and Crystal Palace and Portsmouth are both still on life support following administration proceedings. It seems a good bet that there are more cases to come as financial reality comes home to roost in many board rooms.
Alarm bells should be ringing in the offices of the English FA, if they have not already been sounding for the past year. Club implosions are threatening the legitimacy of league results and continued inaction is simply irresponsible. But it seems that blissful ignorance still reigns and will continue to until catastrophe touches someone receiving SkyTV payments.