The World Cup begins today and though the attention from the four corners of the globe may be on the action in Russia, business is continuing as usual in the National League North as teams Chester FC will be facing in August.
The Blues are well on their way with their summer transfer dealings, with another signing expected in the next week or so .
Among those to already pen deals at the Swansway Chester Stadium for the upcoming campaign include goalkeeper Grant Shenton, defenders Steve Howson and Dominic Smalley, as well as midfielders Matty Hughes and Gary Roberts, while youngster Nathan Brown has also agreed to remain with the Blues.
But teams up and down the league have also been busy strengthening their squads ahead of the new campaign, so here’s our round-up of action which has taken place over the past week at sides Chester will be playing in the coming months.
And we start with Jim Gannon’s Hatters, who have added a former Chester FC player to their ranks as Nyal Bell has penned a deal at Edgeley Park.
He had a spell at the Blues in the 2015-16 campaign, as well as a more recent loan spell from Gateshead last season , where he played 13 times and found the back of the net once.
The Rochdale youth team product ended last season at Alfreton Town, where he made six starts and scored four times.
County boss Jim Gannon said: “He is a very good addition to our front line and will provide a good compliment of attributes to our other attackers and much needed competition for the central attack positions – an aspect which we were keenly aware was missing last season.
“Nyal is a Stockport lad who we have been aware of for quite a while.
“We have been monitoring his progress over the last two seasons whilst he has been plying his trade out of Gateshead FC in both the National and National North through various loans.
“All the staff that have worked with him previously, or scouts that have seen him, highlight the great potential in Nyal and I trust that our team can help him realise his full ability, and have a big impact in the game at his hometown club.”
Sandgrounders boss Liam Watson has been busy since his reappointment at Haig Avenue last month, which included snapping up ex-Blues captain Ryan Astles .
And he has continued his forays into the transfer market with the signature of 28-year-old forward Mike Phenix.
He has penned a two-year deal with the club he had a loan spell with a few years ago and joins from Chester joint bosses Bernard Morley and Anthony Johnson’s former club Salford City.
Southport boss Watson told the club website: “I am delighted that we have secured Mike for the forthcoming season.
“Mike is a strong, powerful direct player who knows how to win this league having previously done so for AFC Telford and most recently with Salford City.
“He is an excellent addition to the club and squad and I am looking forward to working with him again.”
The forward himself added: “I’m delighted to be back at Southport, I feel that I have unfinished business from my last spell here.
“The club is very ambitious and I’m looking forward to working with Liam again.
“I was part of the Salford team that won this division last season and my ambition is to help Southport do the same this coming season. I can’t wait to get started.”
There have been comings and goings over the last week at the club relegated to the National League North alongside Chester last season.
Guiseley, now under the management of Russ O’Neill and former Blues boss Marcus Bignot, have had two in and two out recently.
Louie Swann has returned for his second spell at the club, while 28-year-old central defender Scott Garner has joined The Lions from AFC Halifax Town.
But there have also been departures from Nethermoor Park and includes skipper Ash Palmer.
He has chosen to leave the club when his contract expires and has decided to join National League North rivals Stockport on a two-year deal.
Guiseley striker Dayle Southwell meanwhile will continue plying his trade in the National League after joining Halifax, despite only being five months into a two-and-a-half year deal at Nethermoor Park.
Leamington remained in the National League North by the skin of their teeth last season, finishing just three points above the drop zone.
But they have been boosted with two of last season’s squad who helped them avoid the drop signing up.
Jack Edwards and Callum Gittings have penned new deals with Paul Holleran’s side.
The Brakes boss told the club website: “I am delighted to get both Jack and Callum back on board.
“Jack made a massive impact when he returned from Solihull Moors last season and Callum was one of our most consistent performers throughout so I am very happy to have retained them.”
AFC Telford United
Gavin Cowan’s side has been particularly busy over this summer and the new Bucks boss has added to his ranks once again with the signature of Dominic Smith.
The 22-year-old defender has signed a one-year deal with the club he initially joined in March as the club retained their National League North status.
He came through the ranks at Shropshire side Shrewsbury Town and has also had loan spells at Southport and Barrow.
Bucks boss Cowan said: “Dom’s performances towards the back end of the last campaign meant that he deserved the offer of a new deal and he’s someone I would call reliable.
“He’s a bit of an ‘old school’ defender in that he’s aggressive and goes beyond in order not to concede goals.
“Dom’s another good character who we will need in order to be successful this coming season and I’m happy he’s committed to what we are trying to do!”
And we end the round-up at Aggborough where Neil MacFarlane has made his first acquisition in this summer’s transfer market.
Kidderminster Harriers have snapped up Ryan Johnson from Stevenage on loan until January.
Emmanuel Sonupe meanwhile has moved in the opposite direction to the League Two side for an undisclosed fee.
Their first signing of the summer is free agent and marksman Ashley Chambers, who has penned a two-year deal with Kidderminster after leaving fellow National League North side Nuneaton Town.
And the striker couldn’t hide his delight at having moved to Aggborough.
He told the club’s YouTube channel: “There is no denying that the football that’s played here is brilliant.
“It is always a joy to watch, but it’s not always a joy to play against!
“It was a really big selling point – and knowing how ambitious the club are and the infrastructure that’s here in place, it ticks all the boxes.
“[The club] have had a good couple of seasons and just failed to get over the final hurdle, and I am hoping this will be a good season and that we can finally do that and push on.”