Chester FC could have to wait until Thursday to find out if they will be handed a relegation reprieve after members at the Football Conference AGM voted to allow Hereford United a further extension to their deadline to pay creditors.
The Blues had been widely expected to replace the cash-strapped Bulls at a meeting of Conference chiefs at Celtic Manor in Newport yesterday, with the Edgar Street outfit having failed to meet the initial deadline imposed by the League of 5pm on Thursday by which to pay their football creditors.
That deadline came and went with no payment to players, who have been without a pay cheque for over two months, or any other football creditors.
The Blues will now sweat on the outcome of a deadline imposed on Hereford to have cleared funds for football creditor payments by Monday, with an EGM believed to be scheduled to ratify league structure for the 2014/2015 season on Thursday.
Chester FC chairman Tony Durkin told The Chronicle: “We are going to have to have discussions with the Conference over this and try and put some pressure on them as it is a ridiculous situation.
“We want to know what is the basis for them moving the goalposts again.
“It is impossible to start preparing properly for a season when we are just left in limbo like this. We want some answers. I think that the Conference think that Chester will just slot in somewhere, but it’s not as simple as that and, realistically, we are going to be left with just three weeks to prepare for a season.
“It holds back things like season tickets and leaves us in a difficult position. We will be seeking discussions as soon as possible.”
Chester FC manager Steve Burr took to Twitter to express his dismay at the situation, tweeting “You've heard the saying, rules are there to be broken. #FARCE.”
In a surprising turn of events, the Football Conference board of 11 decided to allow the Bulls, who were represented at the meeting yesterday by chairman David Keyte and newly-appointed director Andrew Green, a further stay of execution. They asked the Bulls, ahead of this morning’s AGM, to provide proof that the club could pay its creditors in the coming days, something which the club provided.
Following today’s AGM, the Football Conference tweeted: “Constitution of Conference agreed by member clubs at the AGM with caveat. Conditions exist on Hereford and Salisbury with cleared funds Monday.
“Failure re funds then Premier Division would be constituted with Chester and Dartford in this order.”
On Thursday, new Hereford owner Tommy Agombar, who revealed himself as the Bulls mystery investor on Monday, wanted written assurances from the Football Conference that the Edgar Street side would not be relegated before handing over the £148,000 owed.
With Hereford still owing their football creditors, having a live winding-up order from ex-manager Martin Foyle hanging over them, as well as debts to the HMRC for missed PAYE payments, Bulls fans had been expecting the worst.
The Football Conference will be eager to have assurances that Hereford can last the coming season in order to avoid a repeat of when Chester City were wound up mid-season back in March 2010 for an unpaid HMRC bill of £26,125.