COVID: English football club Chester fear going out of business after being warned for breach of Welsh coronavirus rules
A non-league English football club fear going out of business after being warned it had breached COVID regulations due to its stadium apparently being located in Wales.
Chester FC said officials were called to a meeting with representatives from North Wales Police, Chester Police and two Welsh councils following fixtures played over the Christmas period.
The meeting discussed potential breaches of the Welsh COVID rules at the Vanarama National League North club’s games against AFC Fylde on 28 December and AFC Telford United on 2 January.
The games were attended by crowds of 2,075 and 2,116 respectively.
Despite there being no rules on the number of people who can attend a match in England, in Wales sporting events must be played behind closed doors under rules to tackle the spread of the Omicron variant.
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But isn’t Chester in England?
Chester is an English city, but the border with Wales runs through the centre of it – including across the club’s Deva Stadium, leaving the ticket office in England and the pitch in Wales.
By law, all the fans could meet in the car park and the club would not be breaking any rules, but as soon as they step foot in the ground, they are governed by Welsh law.
What does the club say?
The club said they were given a letter, on behalf of North Wales Police and Flintshire County Council, outlining the possible rule-breaking, and are now seeking legal advice.
In a statement, they added, the letter warned that if the team continues to play matches in front of fans at its home ground while the current restrictions remain in place, then it may “commit further potential breaches”.
Chairman Andy Morris told the PA news agency: “As a club, we rely on gate receipts. If the enforcement is we have to play behind closed doors, we are not a Welsh club, so we are not entitled to the financial support.
“The entire future of the club could be in doubt. There is no financial support for English clubs playing behind closed doors at the moment. It could be the end of the club.”
Mr Morris said: “While acknowledging the border runs through the stadium, the club, for 30 years, has been treated as English with the registered address in England.”
“It is amazing that, all of a sudden, we have found out we are Welsh,” he added.
Chester are next due to play at home when they face Brackley Town on 15 January.
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