Chris Matheson MP has written to the Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales to try and resolve a recent border dispute.
Chester Football Club has received a letter on behalf of North Wales Police and Flintshire County Council which outlines potential breaches of the Welsh coronavirus regulations. This has caused a backlash on the English side about whether the club should follow English or Welsh coronavirus regulations as its ground, despite having a Chester postal address, straddles the Welsh and English border.
Chris Matheson, MP for Chester has today held a number of meetings with Chester FC and has approached the Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales to try and sensibly resolve the issue through common sense.
Chris cautioned that MPs must respect the operational independence of the police so was keen not to comment on the specifics of the police action, but he had this to say on the matter:
“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.”
“The team is playing with a new confidence; we’ve got a great new manager and assistant in Steve Watson and Steve McNulty. The recent games have been entertaining and following a tough couple of years due to the pandemic, we need more people at the Deva Stadium not fewer. They have to follow the rules and they have been following the rules. From face coverings to restricted numbers in the bar, the club have taken all necessary measures to keep everyone safe. 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.”