Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley are getting ready to lead Chester FC on a late charge for promotion after the fan-run club voted to kick off in the National League North play-offs.
The Blues – the only promotion contenders still to decide – confirmed their intentions to compete in next month’s play-offs in a statement on Monday night.
Officials at the Deva Stadium had been weighing up whether the financial risk is too great for a supporter-owned club to take and are now appealing to fans to help them raise £30,000 towards the estimated £60,00 costs after their players agreed to waive their contracts.
Sure to be welcomed by the National League, the news was announced on the Cheshire club’s social media accounts and website soon after 9pm following a board meeting to make the critical decision.
? BREAKING: #ChesterFC confirm its intention to compete in the 2019/20 National League North play-offs.
— Chester FC (@ChesterFC) June 29, 2020
The Blues said: “Having undertaken a detailed analysis of the financial and operational commitments involved, the board unanimously agreed we can finish this season on the pitch and challenge for promotion to the National League without risking the financial security of our club
“We wish to thank supporters for their patience and understanding during what has been a complex and challenging process. This would not have been possible without the cooperation of the players, managers and coaching staff, who are united in their desire to represent you as supporters and reward the tremendous backing you have given the team throughout the season.
“The players have taken the very generous step to donate their contractual entitlements back to the club to enable us to take part, again demonstrating how our special club continues to pull together in the face of adversity. The club will incur significant expense as a result of participating in the play-offs due to the testing requirements, staff returning from furlough leave and Covid-19 safety measures,
“However, we have taken steps to mitigate this and believe this decision reflects the wishes and ambitions of our members. This week we will be launching #InItTogether to raise funds specifically for the play-offs. The response to Boost the Budget has been incredible with £86,604 raised already and we thank everyone who has pledged so far but we are committed to conserving these funds for the 2020/21 playing budget.
“#InItTogether invites fans to contribute the equivalent of a match ticket towards the costs of the play-off campaign, which could reach £30,000 depending on the team’s progress. This past fortnight has demonstrated what makes our club so unique with the players themselves contributing to Boost the Budget and while we know our loyal fans would love nothing more than to be able to travel in numbers for these play-off fixtures, unfortunately this won’t be possible and the games will take place behind closed doors.
The culture at this football club… https://t.co/CsB7MfOwW5
— Anthony Johnson (@amjonno) June 29, 2020
“#InItTogether allows you to show your support for the team through donating the equivalent of a match ticket or having your own cut-out placed in the Gary Talbot Stand during the play-off campaign, which Bern and Jonno will sign before it is returned to you. As well as knowing you have made a vital contribution to our play-off challenge, everyone who donates will also receive access to a special digital programme for each match.”
The statement added: “While we share the frustration of our fellow National League North and South clubs regarding the sequence of events that has led us to this point and compound already uniquely difficult circumstances for clubs, this is a matter for another day. For now we are focused on the challenge at hand and we are #InItTogether. Thank you for your continued support.”
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