STEPHEN Vaughan has a reputation for being a tough cookie - and he'll need to be as he enters the lion's den at Barrow tomorrow.
He wasn't on many Christmas card lists at the Cumbrian outpost before this week, but now he expects to be public enemy number one as he returns to the club he ran for nearly four years for Chester City's FA Cup fourth qualifying round clash at Holker Street.
Although the threat of both clubs being kicked out of the competition because of Vaughan's dual financial interest has now been lifted after 48 hours of intensive dialogue with the Football Association, the fires of hostility have been fanned.
'I expect a very hot reception, but I will sit in the stand with my ear plugs in and hope Steve Mungall and the Chester lads can do the business,' he said.
'Although I put half a million pounds into Barrow, nearly £300,000 of it my own money, many Barrow supporters remember me only for walking out on them, but I did it because I had to sort out my personal life,' he said.
'I am a major creditor of the club and I can do them a lot of harm, but I won't, because Barrow needs a premier football club.'
Vaughan explained that, although he is a major shareholder in Barrow AFC 1991, which is now in liquidation and being managed by Barrow 1999, he believed his shares weren't 'live' and didn't expect the drama which erupted this week. 'I wasn't aware it would be such a problem,' he said, 'but I had no doubts it would be sorted out.'
He solved it by transferring his shares to a business acquaintance, William Brown, to the satisfaction of the FA who gave the match the thumbs-up on Wednesday evening.
The tie, with prize money and gate receipts, is worth around £30,000 to the winners and Vaughan has offered the City players a generous 10% of FA Cup revenue this season as an incentive to repeat last season's feat of getting to the third round or even further.
Meanwhile, Mungall claims his squad has remained blissfully unaware of the drama behind the scenes and has had a good week preparing for the match.
But he goes into it without Chris O'Brien, Michael O'Brien and Brett Baxter, who are all cup-tied, although there is a good chance top scorer Mark Beesley could return, along with skipper Carl Ruffer.
Beesley has trained following his groin injury, but a decision will not be made until today, while Ruffer played for an hour in the reserves on Wednesday and looks certain to be recalled.
Dean Spink was withdrawn from the game - City beat Leigh RMI 2-0 with goals from French trialist Amda Adil and Darren Wright - as a precaution because of a sore ankle.
'There are places up for grabs because of the players being unavailable, but whatever team I play it won't weaken it,' said Mungall.
'I suppose we are the favourites as the Conference team, but Barrow have some decent players. We will treat the game as we would a league match and if we play as we have done recently the result should take care of itself.'
* Chester had sold 450 of the 625 ticket allocation up to yesterday and the rest will be on sale at the ground up to 5pm today.
In the event of a replay it will be at the Deva Stadium on Tuesday (7.45).