It’s polling day in the UK but for some of us the vote that really matters has already been announced.
At one minute past midnight the news was officially released that Chester FC’s supporters organisation, City Fans United, has been awarded the lease of the Deva Stadium by the owners, Cheshire West and Chester Council.
This was not a “gimme.” There was a rival bid from a Danish consortium who had useful support from Jan Molby and Mark Wright. But the council has taken what I believe to be completely the correct option.
Had the Danes succeeded there was a real risk that football would disappear from Chester for ever. Supporters and the public at large have been so enthused by the CFU campaign that it is doubtful that many would have rolled up to see matches staged by a set-up parachuted in from abroad.
The fans can take massive credit. Last August they were angry, disillusioned, and most significantly isolated. Antagonised, then alienated, then scorned by the ill-fated Vaughan regime they felt helpless. But they got together. They held meetings and people turned up in droves. They looked at a future without the great game and didn’t like it. They discovered a real appetite to keep professional football alive.
Clever, sensible, articulate people emerged to lead and organise. Suddenly, things were happening. Lines of communication with the public were established. Money was raised. Outings for kids were organised. All good, positive developments the like of which the dying regime could never have emulated.
Most important of all, a credible business plan was formulated which has convinced the council that the fans are the correct custodians for the future.
Comparing the situation today with that of a year ago, this is a dramatic and astonishing victory for football supporters.
I congratulate CFU and wish them every success. They don’t need me to tell them that the hard work is only just starting. But in the best football tradition, they should take each day as it comes and that means enjoying today to the full, a great day to be a football fan.