Stephen Vaughan, Sr.
Stephen Vaughan (born c. 1962) is a convicted criminal, an English businessman from Liverpool. Through his ownership of Vaughan Promotions, originally a boxing promotion and management company, he has owned the Barrow and Chester City football clubs, serving as chairman of both. During his time as chairman of the two clubs, both clubs initially saw success on the pitch, but his tenure at both ended due to Vaughan's involvement in criminal investigations. Vaughan has also been involved with Droylsden F.C., and has been chairman of the Widnes Vikings rugby league team.
Vaughan contested 77 amateur boxing bouts. He formed Vaughan Promotions in 1990 to promote professional boxing promotions in the United Kingdom. His company purchased Barrow in 1995, and Vaughan invested heavily in the club, building a new 1200 seat grandstand. His investments led to Barrow winning the Unibond Premier League title in the 1997–98 season. However, during that season Vaughan resigned as chairman due to a money laundering investigation by HM Customs and Excise. Vaughan's links to gangster Curtis Warren also became public; in Warren's biography, he relates an incident where he flew over Barrow's Holker Street field and commented, "I own that". Nothing came of the Customs and Excise investigation, and Vaughan reinstated himself as chairman.
Vaughan had been using his own money to fund the club; when he left Barrow permanently in November 1998, his departure resulted in financial difficulties for the club. Furthermore, it was discovered that Vaughan had transferred Holker Street to his company, Vaughan Promotions, in return for his investment. Barrow were removed from the Football Conference for improper administration. A lengthy dispute over the ownership of Holker Street followed, during which time Barrow was readmitted to play in the Northern Premier League in September 1999. Vaughan remained the major shareholder in the old company, but day-to-day running of the club had been taken over by the newly formed Barrow AFC (1999). Eventually, it was ruled that the club legally owned Holker Street, and was allowed to sell the asset to pay off the first charge on the stadium to Cherrytree finance.
In the ensuing years, Vaughan was linked with attempts to buy a number of clubs, finally purchasing a majority share of Chester City in 2001. However, shortly after Vaughan's purchase, Chester was drawn to play Barrow in the FA Cup. Under Football Association (FA) rules, Vaughan could not own shares in both teams. Using a loophole in those rules, a few days prior to the match he transferred his Barrow shares to a local painter and decorator for a nominal sum. After the game, the shares were transferred back. A few days later, new Barrow chairman Brian Keen completed the purchase of Vaughan's shares.
At Chester, Vaughan again invested heavily, improving the club's facilities (Deva Stadium), and during his tenure, the team won the Football Conference in 2004. In February 2002, Vaughan also bought shares in a rugby league club, the Widnes Vikings, eventually owning enough shares to have a majority control by 2006.[irrelevant citation] Difficulties in securing a ground in Chester led to discussions about moving the football club to Widnes, but nothing came of this and Vaughan quit as the Widnes Vikings chairman in April 2007. A few months later, he also stood down as chairman of Chester, following a controversy in which he arranged for the club to hold a minute's silence following the death of Colin Smith, a murdered Liverpool gangster, and associate of Curtis Warren. Vaughan remained the majority shareholder in the club, which began to run into financial problems. A sale was announced to Gary Metcalf, a Liverpool-based businessman, which was never consummated, so ownership of the club was eventually transferred to Stephen Vaughan, Jr., Vaughan's son, in April 2009. Eventually, the Chester club went into voluntary administration, and were bought by Chester City Ltd., a company entirely owned by members of the Vaughan family, including the senior Vaughan.
These financial difficulties coincided with on-the-pitch struggles. Chester was relegated from the Football League at the end of the 2008–09 season. They were initially barred from competing in the 2009–10 season due to Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs revoking the proposed CVA (company voluntary arrangement), but the club was eventually given FA affiliation. This came, however, with a 25-point penalty at the start of the 2009–10 season. This left the club struggling in the Football Conference. Chester continued to experience financial difficulties and, in November 2009, Vaughan was disqualified from acting as a director of any company for a period of 11 years, following his involvement in a £500,000 VAT fraud whilst a director of the Widnes Vikings. As a result, he became the first owner of a professional football club to fail the FA's fit and proper person test, and was forced to reduce his shareholding in Chester City. Control of the club passed back to Stephen Vaughan, Jr., with Vaughan Sr. continuing to inject loans into the club, as fans stayed away. By February 2010, Chester City was unable to fulfill their financial obligations, due to failures to pay police and players, and the club was suspended from the Football Conference, pending a vote on their ejection to be held on 26 February. The decision was made to expel Chester City from the Football Conference and, following a court order on 10 March, it was confirmed that the club were to be wound up.
Move to Malta
On 4 April 2010, Vaughan Sr. and his son, along with a 29-year-old man from Neston, were arrested on suspicion of affray and the serious assault of a police officer. Both were convicted, with Vaughan Sr. sentenced to fifteen months in jail, and his son given community service. Vaughan remained in jail until his release in September 2011, by which time Vaughan Jr. had begun to rebuild the Vaughan Boxing promotion business.
Vaughan attempted a return to football in 2012, when he tried to launch a new club in Widnes, but failed due to being refused permission to use Halton Stadium. In April 2012, Vaughan purchased Floriana of Malta. Stephen Vaughan Jr. was subsequently appointed Chairman/President of the club in January 2013. With this move, the Vaughan Boxing Promotions company also shifted toward boxing promotion in Malta. In February 2014, the Vaughan family sold their investment in Floriana FC to Riccardo Gaucci, joining Mosta FC as main shirt sponsors, and then in the summer of 2014 signed a 2-year sponsorship with Hibernians FC. Malta Boxing Commission appointed Vaughan as honorary president in March 2015.
Return to the UK
Upon the return of the Vaughan family to the UK in 2016, VSM a Sports Management Company was set up and purchased the controlling interest in Bangor City FC. Immediate investment and sponsorship, resulted in City gaining the final Europa League place, after beating Cardiff Met 1-0 in the play off final at a packed Nantporth Bangor University Stadium.
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- "Stephen Vaughn Interviewed by Blues Mad". Chester City Mad. 1 October 2004. Archived from the original on 18 August 2005.
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- "Former Chester City Football Club owner Stephen Vaughan and one of his sons were arrested on suspicion of assaulting a police officer". Liverpool Echo. 13 April 2010. Retrieved 16 April 2011.
- "Liverpool businessman Stephen Vaughan jailed for 15 months for punching a police officer". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 29 July 2013.
- Dobbing, Martin. "Liverpool's Vaughan says 'onwards and upwards' after release from jail". Boxrec News. Retrieved 29 July 2013.
- "Widnes Vikings launch football team". Runcorn and Widnes Weekly News. 3 September 2012. Archived from the original on 7 April 2013. Retrieved 29 July 2013.
- "Former Widnes Vikings chairman Stephen Vaughan buys Maltese Premier League football club Floriana FC". Runcorn and Widness Weekly News. Retrieved 29 July 2013.
- "New Floriana patron failed English FA's 'fit and proper' test". Malta Today. Retrieved 29 July 2013.
- "Vaughan Jr appointed Floriana president". Times of Malta. Retrieved 29 July 2013.
- "Seconds Out: Stephen Vaughan Jnr clears up split from Derry Mathews by saying 'we remain great friends'". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 29 July 2013.