The Chester City MP called out the news that a football club with a stadium in Wales-England is under investigation by North Wales Police for Covid violations like a “joke” and a “mess”.
North Wales Police and Flintshire County Council said they were working to ‘investigate’ Chester FC to find out whether matches played at their home ground on December 28 and January 2 violated government regulations Welsh on coronavirus
Labor MP Christian Matheson said that when he first heard the news, “I assumed this must have been a joke led by an aggrieved Wrexham fan, but it is clear that it is extremely serious ”.
The club released a statement on the matter after being invited to a meeting with representatives from North Wales Police, Flintshire County Council, Cheshire Police and Cheshire West & Chester Council this morning.
According to the club, North Wales Police and Flintshire County Council have told him he could “commit further potential violations if he continues to play at home with the crowd amid current restrictions on Wales remain in place “.
He says it was said to be “based on the directive from the Welsh government that the premises of Chester Football Club are governed by Welsh regulations”.
Although the club’s stadium headquarters are located in England, MP Christian Matheson said “I am clear the club has a central mailing address in Chester and the club’s offices are in England”.
“The club is affiliated with Cheshire FA,” he said. “The only access to the club is from the English side and matches have always been controlled by the Cheshire Police.
“I am absolutely in favor of following the rules in handling the coronavirus pandemic and the club is doing just that. From face covers to restricted numbers in the bar, the club has taken all necessary measures to ensure everyone’s safety.
“I will support the club’s board of directors in finding a common sense solution to this mess. “
Alert level two rules have been in place in Wales since December 26, in an attempt to tackle the surge in Omicron cases.
This means that groups of up to 50 people have been allowed to meet outdoors. But, there is a limited exception for team sports which allows 50 spectators to assemble in addition to those involved. According to the rules, professional sport must be played behind closed doors.
Since those rules came into effect, Chester FC, who play in the Northern National League, have organized two matches with fans in attendance.
The club’s Deva Stadium home is in the industrial area of Sealand Road and is on the Welsh side of the border with England. This border runs along the rear of the East Grandstand with the field and as well as four Grandstands located in Flintshire.
On December 28, a crowd of 2,075 saw the team play a 2-2 draw against Fylde. A crowd of 2,116 attended the club’s 1-1 draw against Telford on Sunday January 2.
There are currently no restrictions on outdoor gatherings in England. As an English club, Chester is under the jurisdiction of the English FA and the club’s offices are on the Cheshire side of the border.
In a statement, Chester FC said: “This morning the Chester Football Club were invited to a meeting with representatives from the North Wales Police, Flintshire County Council, Cheshire Police and of the Board of Cheshire West & Chester.
“During this meeting the club received a joint letter on behalf of North Wales Police and Flintshire County Council outlining potential violations of Welsh coronavirus regulations during our meetings on the 28th. December 2021 and January 2, 2022.
“He also says the club may commit other potential violations if they continue to play at home with crowds while the current restrictions in Wales remain in place.
“We have been informed that this was based on instructions from the Welsh government that the premises of the Chester Football Club are governed by Welsh regulations. The Welsh government was not represented at the meeting.
“It was agreed that all parties would seek further legal advice given the complex issues and the future implications of any outcome.
“We will provide a further update to our supporters as soon as we can.”
An earlier joint statement from North Wales Police and Flintshire County Council said: ‘Discussions regarding the home games recently played by Chester FC are continuing between North Wales Police and our partner agencies.
‘North Wales Police and Cheshire Police, along with representatives from Flintshire County Council, are working together to review and investigate matches played at Chester Stadium on December 28 and January 2, following reports of violations of the COVID regulation.
“Further meetings have been arranged between North Wales Police, Cheshire Police, Flintshire County Council and Chester FC officials to further discuss the situation and we will issue an update in in due time. “