Michael Owen: Former England striker to help Chester by playing in fundraising match

Michael Owen
It is 20 years in 2018 since Michael Owen's famous World Cup goal against Argentina

Former England star Michael Owen is leading a campaign to help his father Terry's old club Chester overcome their current financial issues.

The club needs £50,000 to survive until the end of the season.

Chester-born Owen is helping out by playing in a one-off fundraising game at the fan-owned phoenix club's Bumpers Lane home on Thursday, 15 February.

"It's so important that we do what we can to help. We can't lose this club again," said Owen.

"I was born in Chester and brought up listening to my dad's stories about the glory days from his playing time at Chester FC, including the run to the semi-final of the League Cup as a Fourth Division club in 1974-75."

Owen's Liverpool-born father Terry, 68, who began his career at Everton, also played league football for Bradford City, Cambridge United, Rochdale and Port Vale but he had his best days at Sealand Road, scoring 41 times in 176 league starts in his five years with Chester.

Former Liverpool, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Newcastle United and Stoke City star Owen, 38, now a successful race horse owner, represented his home city at schoolboy level.

He ended his career in 2013 having scored 40 goals in 89 England appearances.

Michael Owen finally in a Chester shirt?

Danny Higginbotham and Michael Owen tussle for the ball
Michael Owen (left) has persuaded former Chester defender Danny Higginbotham to play

Next Thursday's game will feature a team of All-Stars against a Chester Select side managed by Neil Young, the first manager of Chester FC.

Young was in charge when the club reformed following the extinction of Chester City, who were wound up in the High Court in February 2010.

Owen's contacts within the game have helped secure several other former footballers, Keith Gillespie, Maik Taylor, Perry Groves, Trevor Sinclair and two former Chester players, Danny Higginbotham and Chris Iwelumo.

They have all committed to the game, as well as BBC radio 5 live presenter Colin Murray.

Chester now have only their management team, secretary, playing staff and groundstaff on the wage bill following the departure this week of chief executive Mark Maguire.

Having already begun cost-cutting measures, their appeal for funds began with an appeal for money at a youth game last week at which over 1,000 fans turned up, raising £13,000.

Now managed by Marcus Bignot, Chester currently sit 22nd in the National League, four points adrift of safety.

Analysis

BBC Radio Merseyside's Neil Turner

"This is a great initiative by Michael Owen and some of football's big names. And it has really captured the imagination.

"Fans of Manchester United and Manchester City and other clubs have already been on requesting tickets.

"The club have now reached £35,000 in their target and the proceeds of this game should push Chester over the £50,000 target they need for survival.

"Much-needed changes have been made at the club at boardroom level, which should now set them on a firmer and more professional footing to attract much needed commercial revenue."

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