POLITICAL leaders on both sides of the border say they are working with Chester FC to find a pragmatic solution to the ongoing Welsh Covid rules row.

The club faced the prospect of either playing Saturday's home fixture behind closed doors or risk being fined by Welsh authorities over Covid restrictions that have been in place in Wales since Christmas, preventing more than 50 spectators from attending a sporting event.

The England/Wales boundary line, which splits Chester West Employment Park and Sealand Road Park and Ride in half, also splits through the Deva Stadium off Bumpers Lane, with the ticket office in England but the pitch being in Wales.

The English National League North outfit was last week warned it may have breached Welsh coronavirus regulations by hosting crowds at two matches over the holiday period, in draws played out at the Deva Stadium in front of more than 2,000 spectators on December 28, 2021 and January 2, 2022.

The club has an English postcode and, following the letting off of smoke bombs on to the pitch on Welsh land during the January 2 game, it was Cheshire Police who launched an appeal for information as part of their investigation.

On Tuesday, Chester FC said that due to the lack of a definitive solution, it had to postpone this Saturday's National League North home match with Brackley Town.

The Under 19s National League Academy Cup tie with FC Halifax Town, which was due to be held at the Deva Stadium on Wednesday evening, has also been postponed.

A club statement said: "We have met with Welsh Government, Flintshire Council and Cheshire West and Chester Council, however do not yet feel that this matter has reached a definitive resolution and will be obtaining further legal advice.

"Whilst enforcement action remains a possibility, we are not prepared to risk the security of the Club or our supporters, as such the Board have made the difficult decision to postpone this week's home fixtures.

"Open, constructive discussions are continuing with a shared commitment to identifying a long-term solution that recognises the unique geography and historical context of the Deva Stadium site.

"The Board will be seeking advice in respect of the potential breaches of the Welsh Coronavirus Regulations, which legislation will be applicable to the club in the future and to establish any implications the Welsh Government's proposed offer of financial support may have as an English football club."

Cheshire West and Chester Council, Flintshire County Council and Chester Football Club have confirmed that open and constructive discussions are taking place about the club and the roles and responsibilities of the respective regulatory and administrative organisations in relation to it.

The councils have met representatives of Chester FC, the Welsh Government and North Wales Police.


Council Leader Louise Gittins

Council Leader Louise Gittins


Cllr Louise Gittins, leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council, said: “It is in everybody’s interests to find positive solutions and clarify things for the future.

"Chester Football Club is a fan-owned club and a key organisation for our borough. It makes a vital contribution to our community. We have worked closely and effectively together, including most recently throughout the pandemic. We are having positive discussions with the club and colleagues in Wales.

"Chester FC are an English football club and member of the English football league system and will continue to be as we will work together towards a positive future.”


Cllr Ian Roberts.

Cllr Ian Roberts.


Cllr Ian Roberts, leader of Flintshire County Council, said: “As a council we are committed to working with the football club and our partners to provide clarity on the long-term management of the ground and facilities.”

Andy Morris, chairman of Chester Football Club, said: “This club has a proud history and is looking to a bright future. The discussions we are having with our partners will make things clearer, building on our shared commitment to the future.”


City of Chester MP Chris Matheson.

City of Chester MP Chris Matheson.


Previously, City of Chester MP Chris Matheson said the border dispute was "absurd", and had written to the Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales, Andy Dunbobbin, to try and resolve the issue.

He said: "When I first heard the news, I assumed it must be a joke fronted by an aggrieved Wrexham fan but clearly it is deadly serious.

"It has always been an amusing quirk of our club that the ground on Bumpers Lane straddles the border.

"If the authorities expect us to follow two sets of rules, then I’m sure 2,000 Chester fans can congregate on the car park which is in England and follow the match on a big screen while play takes place on the pitch, part of which is in Wales. That’s how absurd the situation is.

"The club has a central Chester postal address, and the offices of the club are in England. The Club is affiliated with Cheshire FA. The only access to the club is via the English side and games have always been policed by Cheshire Police.

"I’m absolutely in favour of respecting rules to manage the coronavirus pandemic but the club has been doing just that.

"They have been and continue to follow the English rules as I know myself from attending a game over Christmas. It’s not as though we have been ignoring the coronavirus restrictions.

"I’ll be supporting the club board to find a common sense resolution to this mess because we need people to understand and buy into these necessary restrictions. I’m worried that this dispute will have the opposite effect and make people less compliant.”


Carolyn Thomas MS

Carolyn Thomas MS


North Wales MS Carolyn Thomas, a former deputy leader for Flintshire Council, has written a letter to the Welsh Government seeking a pragmatic solution.

Citing that the club is "a model for fan ownership which should be promoted and supported by socialists who recognise the threat posed to the 'beautiful game' by private ownership", the Member of the Senedd for North Wales has urged the Welsh Government to work with the club so it does "not become an unlucky victim of a geographical anomaly".

She added if the club was forced to play home games behind closed doors, that the Welsh Government would provide "adequate funding" so the club could continue to operate.

Covid infection rates, while still at near-record levels across the UK, are now beginning to decline. This could soon see restrictions eased in the next few weeks in Wales, and would allow spectator numbers to return to normal.