Chester FC - the long road back

Chester FC are one year into a ten year plan to return to the Football League – can their second season match up to their first?

Shortly after Chester won the league last season, an excitable fan joined a football chat room on the internet to claim that his club “will be Premier League champions in 2017/18”. Whether or not he’s right remains to be seen but on the evidence of the first stages of the long term plan to revive the club, it could be worth a flutter.

Chester FC rose from the ashes of Chester City who failed to fulfil their fixtures and were expelled from the league two years ago.

For a time it looked like the club which produced internationals Ian Rush and Lee Dixon would cease to exist, but fans clubbed together to ensure its future.

Before last season kicked off the club announced they had a ten year plan to return to the Football League – one year and one league title later, they need three promotions in the next nine years to achieve that goal. And they need six promotions and one incredible year in the top flight to if our Premier League title bet is to pay dividends.

Chairman Chris Pilsbury is in no rush though. ‘The current management can take us as far as they want, they have been excellent so far and I have no reason to doubt they’ll be any different this season.

‘I know it sounds like the dreaded vote of confidence from the chairman but I believe that patience and stability help clubs achieve success, not changing the manager every year. Look at the clubs who have been successful – Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool in the 70s and 80s, they all had stability. Then look at Chelsea who have by far the most resources and a different manager every year – they have massively under-achieved.’

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The new Chester club is based on the same model as Barcelona, with every member of the club being a shareholder – a system which ensures no single person can push the club towards financial disaster again.But after the dramatic success of their first season back – they won the title and were watched by some of the biggest crowds outside the Football League – Chris is determined not to lose the momentum.

There are a number of new faces in the squad and Chris added: ‘We’d settle for promotion this time, not necessarily the championship. ‘It can be done on the current resources but we are trying to build a base and to introduce new revenue streams which would subsidise the football side of the business.

‘We’re hoping to increase the use of the catering facilities at the ground, for weddings and parties, within the next year and develop a sports ground as a community facility and all-weather training ground, within two-five years.’

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