It’s been another busy week in the National League North as Chester FC’s rivals next season prepare for the new campaign in English football’s sixth tier.
It’s the time of year when squads up and down the country are evolving with players being offered new deals to stay put at their clubs or released to move on to pastures new.
Chester are yet to announce their retained list for next season and new co-managers Bernard Morley and Anthony Johnson have until June 1 to make a decision on which Blues players they would like to keep on.
So here’s an update of what clubs up and down the division have been getting on with their summer transfer business.
Chester are still to make their first summer signing, with joint boss Morley in the process of speaking to players about their futures.
But one club in the National League to have pressed on is Southport, who recently announced the signings of Blues defender Ryan Astles and stopper Dan Hanford.
And the Sandgrounders have announced two more new players including defender Zac Corbett, who played 30 times for fellow National League North side FC United of Manchester last season.
The 22-year-old has set his sights on reaching English football’s fifth tier after agreeing to join Liam Watson’s side, saying: “I’m really happy to have joined the club and can’t wait to get started.
“It’s all about the promotion that everybody wants, and we’ll do everything we can to get there.”
He has been joined at Southport by Andy Parry, who has penned a one-year deal and will be playing his second spell at the club.
He played more than 60 times for Southport in first stint, which ended with a move to Luton Town, and Sandgrounders boss Watson is pleased with his signing’s flexibility.
He said: “Andy was one of the first players we wanted. I know what I get from him. He can play anywhere, at right back, centre back or centre midfield.
“The fans know him, he was brilliant when he was here and he got sold on my last day to Luton. I’m delighted to have him back through the door”
FC United of Manchester
Despite losing Corbett to Southport, FC United have made up for the loss after they announced three new players at once.
Central defender Chris Lynch was formerly the skipper at Salford City – the club Blues bosses Morley and Johnson led to the National League North title just a month ago.
He has been joined at Broadhurst Park by strikers Brodie Litchfield from Stocksbridge and Kurt Willoughby from Clitheroe as FC United player-manager Tom Greaves made his first signings of the summer.
He told FC United’s website: “We are delighted with our first three signings of the summer, Lynchy brings with him a wealth of experience, a no nonsense centre half who’s no stranger to the FC United fans. He’s a leader, a winner who wears his heart on his sleeve and will strengthen our back line.
“Brodie is an exciting young player who will have the fans on the edge of their seats, his pace and his skill will see him create and score goals, he’s the type of player the fans will love.
“Kurt joins us after a few great seasons with Clitheroe, his consistent goal scoring record is something we’ve been missing since the departure of Jason Gilchrist last season and Kurt has come in to fill that void.”
Jamal Crawford has also decided to stay with the club for another season.
After winning promotion back to the National League North from the Northern Premier League Premier Division, there have been comings and goings at what will be one of Chester’s shorter away days in a few months time.
Altrincham have confirmed Laurence Taylor and Darius Palma have agreed terms with Trafford FC.
But Sean Williams has returned for his second spell with the Robins after spending last season at Warrington Town.
And the midfielder is delighted to be joining Phil Parkinson’s side with the club on the rise.
He told Altrincham’s website: “I’m pleased the fans are feeling positive again after a couple of ropey seasons, and it’s great to see the club on their way back to where they belong.
“The aim will be to keep that going, but, in the meantime, I’m just looking forward to seeing some familiar faces again, supporters as well as team-mates.
“I hope I get the same welcome I got first time round - and we get the same results that took us into the National League.”
The Yorkshire side have been very active in the transfer market so far this summer and the last week has been no exception.
The Ministermen have announced defender Tom Allan has returned to the club from fellow National League North side Alfreton Town.
The lifelong York fan made his debut for the club as an 18-year-old in 2012 in the Football League and left in May 2014.
Speaking to York’s official website, he said: “It feels really good to be back and I can’t wait to get started. I feel that I have learned a lot over the last three years and I think I have come back a better player.
“I really enjoyed my time at Alfreton but now I think it is my time to move on, come back to York, and help them to push for promotion this season.
“I am a completely different player to when I was first here. I was a young lad, learning his trade. Four years down the line, I have grown up a lot and I will be more of an influence on the football club this time around.”
After Jimmy Ball was sold to League Two side Stevenage for a five-figure fee and the highest sum the club has received while playing non-league football, Stockport have been busy reshaping their squad.
And there have been contract offers made to defensive duo Steve O’Halloran and Chris Smalley, with ‘positive talks, also taking place with Jason Oswell.
Hatters boss Jim Gannon has chosen to not offer deals or non-contract terms to George West, Harry Winter, Michael Clarke, or Harry Brazel.
Speaking to the club’s website, County manager Gannon said: “These decisions have been very difficult in light of the good work that the players have done this season.
“I’ve worked with several of these players over a number of years and the working relationship extends beyond just professional.
“The difficulties I have are in improving the team for the coming season, but we’re also mindful of any future move to full-time football in the coming years and how the squad will need to be reshaped with a different type of professional who can commit more time to football.”
And we finish with the furthest trip south the Blues will face next season in the National League North.
Northamptonshire side Brackley Town emerged victorious over Bromley in the Wembley sunshine over the weekend to lift the FA Trophy.
But in the final, Brackley equalised deep into second-half stoppage time through Gareth Dean after Omar Bugiel had put the National League side ahead.
And the Saints won the trophy after a 5-4 penalty shoot-out win, sparking joyous scenes among the thousands of Brackley fans who travelled down to the national stadium to watch their team clinch silverware.