Chester City fans were dreaming about moving in to a multi-million pound new home before beating Brackley in the Buildbase FA Trophy on Saturday.
Before their 1-0 away win over the Saints in the third qualifying round, Blues fan and entrepreneur Stuart Murphy unveiled ambitious plans for a state-of-the-art sports village.
Murphy hopes to develop land around the Deva Stadium and use the profits to help the Blues eventually reach League One. As part of his plans, City’s home has been renamed the 1885 Arena.
?? BREAKING: #ChesterFC‘s Deva Stadium has been renamed the ‘1885 Arena’ initially until the end of the 2019/2020 season!
— Chester FC (@ChesterFC) November 21, 2019
A donor to the Blues for the past 18 months, Murphy presented his vision for the 1885 Sports Village at a public meeting at the National League North club’s home on Thursday night.
Murphy plans to develop the main stand at the Deva to increase the stadium’s capacity to 4,000, add improved facilities including a VIP section, better disability viewing platforms and a hotel and spa.
Murphy, founder of city-based business rates firm Exacta Plc, is aiming to raise the capital with four other investors.
Importantly for supporters, he says they will have no influence over the football club, which will remain fan owned, with a percentage of any profits going back into the Blues.
Murphy told Cheshire Live: “You’re talking two, three or four million pounds a year coming into this football club to help us get out of this league and the next league and we could support ourselves in League One easily.
“The Championship might be a pipe dream so let’s not lose faith in where we are, League One/League Two is where we want to be.
“This city deserves it. This city gets 10 million visitors every year and there is only so many Roman artifacts that you can look at. We’ll have a lot of things down here that people that will want to get involved with.
“We want to have it ready by 2022 and it is going to cost a lot of money. Investors won’t be a problem, I will be one of them and I will be looking for four more people to put the same amount of money in that I am.
“We don’t want to own a football club, we don’t want to run a football club, we want to provide an amazing sporting village that benefits the football club.
“Investors will earn an in interest on their money but they won’t be lending us any money, they can’t take their money back out.
“They can sell their shares but it does not impact on the football club. We may want a voice on the board but we won’t be running a football club, that will remain as it is.”
Chester City chairman David Harrington-Wright told fans at the meeting that it was Murphy’s vision that they would ultimately have to decide upon.
“It has taken quite a long time to get to this point,” said Harrington-Wright.
“At least now a lot more people have seen where Stuart is coming from. He does not want to own the football club or run the football club.
“He wants the best for the football club and if it provides the funds to get back to the Football League then that warrants further discussion.
“It is Stuart’s vision and we would not do anything to jeopardise the future of this club. This is what he would like to do and we wouldn’t entertain any discussion that involved us having a less favourable deal.”