Skip to main content

"If you want some accessible but informative insight into football then I suggest you couldn't do better than the Political Economy of Football website, which is not only intelligible but comes with the added bonus of being written by Addicks fan Wyn Grant."
Ben Hayes - Charlton Athletic programme

Two Clubs Start Season Late


The extent to which the financial crisis has hit hard at the lower levels of football is shown by the fact that two clubs have started the season late, Chester City (relegated at the end of last season from League 2 to the Conference) and Livingston who are still fighting a decision to relegate them from Division 1 to Division 3 of the Scottish league. Neither case is that straightforward, however, as both clubs have been blighted by poor management at board level.

Chester City were finally given permission to start their season a week late after they were granted FA affiliation on Thursday following a meeting between the club, the Conference and the FA. There have been hints of tension over the issue between the FA and the Conference. Following relegation from League 2, City went into voluntary administration knowing that they would incur a 10-point penalty. When it became clear that former owner Stephen Vaughan was still part of the consortium which have bought back the club, the FA intervened. Chester were then told they were docked another 15 points. But the FA and the Conference are yet to say why which could be construed as a breach of the rules of natural justice. It seems that where things wrong was when the Conference accepted the new company in the Blue Square Premier when the club should have been demoted a division. Grays Athletic were furious when their open game against Chester was called off leaving them with a pile of unsold burgers and staff costs. Grays supremo Mick Woodward commented, 'It is scandalous. At the end of the day it's in-fighting between the Conference and FA.' Chester City are to appeal against the points demotion.

Meanwhile north of the border troubled Livingston had been relegated two divisions. They initially refused to play their matches, threatening to throw the competition into chaos. Their appeal to the Scottish League against demotion to the bottom tier was only defeated by 16 votes to 10 and that was with four clubs being barred from voting: Livingston themselves; Annan Athletic as they are only associate members; and Airdrie United and Cowdenbeath on the grounds that they had a pecuniary interest in the outcome. Airdrie were saved from relegation by the decision to demote Livingston while cows'n'beath got a promotion to Division Two. Livingston came out of administration on Thursday. They now intend to take their case to the Scottish FA, although they face a separate case over their refusal to fulfil their opening fixture which could lead to a points deduction.

Livingston are not popular with all Scottish fans who see them as a franchise club. Meadowbank Thistle, an Edinburgh team which played on an athletics stadium in front of a crowd largely made up of the family and girlfriends of the players, had their registration moved across to the Scottish new town. Livingston has suffered from ownership that displayed limited levels of competence, as we made clear in an earlier story, but the new management team has relevant experience with lower league Scottish clubs and is clearly focused on the task in hand. It has to be said that the Scottish football authorities have made a real mess of this sequence of events.