CHESTER FC will not be eligible to claim a penny of a fighting fund designed to help sports clubs struggling through the Covid pandemic.

The club announced on Thursday morning (March 25) it was unsuccessful in its application to claim funds in the Government's £300 million Sports Winter Survival Package, for which £11 million had been allocated to National League, National League North and National League South clubs.

In a cruelly ironic twist, it appears the Blues' financial prudence and determined drive to stay afloat throughout the season thanks to generous supporters donating thousands of pounds actually hindered the club's appeal for funding.

A Chester FC statement said: "We have been informed our application for funding has been unsuccessful following assessment against the SWSP programme criteria and objectives.

"Sport England has provided a detailed explanation of its reasoning and, while disappointed, we accept the decision of the assessment board and thank them for their consideration.

"We are pleased the assessment board acknowledged we have experienced a significant fall in revenues due to the impact of Covid and noted our prudent financial management.

"Chester FC operates as a financially sustainable football club without debt and maintains a special reserve so therefore we were not considered to be at risk of no longer trading viably by the end of this financial year.

"This position has been achieved through the exceptional support of our owners and supporters, substantial short-term reductions in expenditure and the curtailment of the 2020/21 season.

"The volatile operating environment and lasting impact of Covid will require the Board to prepare for further financial pressures, however the collective efforts of the past 12 months provide us with cautious optimism our club can overcome these challenges and continue progressing on and off the pitch."

It remains to be seen how much of the fund will be divided between other National League clubs.

Chester FC isn't the only large organisation in the city which has been unable to access emergency Government funding.

Chester Zoo has been unable to claim a penny of a £100 million fund designed to help zoos facing permanent closure, as the Chester Zoo charity was deemed ineligible because it was not on the verge of bankruptcy.

The £100 million Zoo Animals Fund is due to close in June, having been given a three-month extension, but only £3 million has been donated to struggling animal attractions due to its overly strict criteria.

Previously, Chester FC was able to obtain a share of £10 million National Lottery funding designed to help clubs through to the end of 2020, following a deal brokered by the Government, but the way the fund was divided between clubs sparked controversy and the Blues said the fund of £36k per month was "significantly lower than anticipated" and not enough to cover matchday revenue from playing matches behind closed doors.

A separate controversy, badly handled by the National League, saw National League North/South clubs believe they were to receive grant funding from the Government in early 2021, until the National League – which appeared to have previously told the clubs they were grants – clarified the funds would only be available as low-interest loans.

As a result – and with many clubs keen not to go heavily into debt – a majority of clubs in the National League North and South divisions voted to end the season prematurely in February, with the season effectively wiped out and no clubs being promoted or relegated.