A VIEW FROM THE WEST STAND
Just before I sat down to write this
article I had been reading the Daily Mail of
22nd April and happened to see a report that Stoke
City were selling their old pitch at £3 a square
metre with all the proceeds going to charity. I thought,
what a difference in the public relations compared
to our club and, try as they might, not a lot in this
department has changed since the supporters request
for pieces of the hallowed Sealand Road turf were turned
down for no apparent reason. The events of the past
few weeks have been a classic example of a sheer lack
of communication between the club and its dwindling
band of supporters.
The main reason has been of course,
the lack of details in the recent Rescue Package and
because of this, cynical supporters, hardened by similar
disappointments in the past, do not trust, rightly
or wrongly, the pronouncements coming from the boardroom
at the Deva Stadium.
Why, I wonder, if we are to believe
what we are told, that, not only has the cash from
the sale of three players gone to pay off debts, but
included in the package, is a cash injection from the
chairman, has there been continued criticism of him?
The general opinion seems to be,
why was the club allowed to reach a point where the
bank bounced wages cheques? Having been in business
myself for nearly twenty-five years, I know that banks
are very reluctant to stop wage cheques. It is usually
the last resort before a business goes bust.
What is needed is a frank statement
from the club about the exact amounts involved in the "Rescue
Package". For instance, how much is the chairmans
contribution to the package? Is it a gift? Or is it a loan? If the latter,
when would he require its repayment and at what rate of interest? These
are the kind of questions that are troubling supporters and making them
fear for the future.
Amongst other things, supporters
will wish to see is a radical cut in the running costs
of the club for instance
the amount of cars being run
at the clubs expense;
the amount of club officials
there are, especially on match days.
also the number of complimentary
tickets that seem to be handed out before every home
game. Remember for every free ticket, the club loses
a potential £9. Multiply this by a hundred, for
instance, and the club is deprived of nearly £1,000
The club is not in a position for
As far as the playing side is concerned
this season, Kevin Ratcliffe and his staff have, yet
again, performed miracles. With all that has gone on
behind the scenes, for the club to have been involved
again in the promotion chase is totally remarkable.
And to do it playing true football has been an added
bonus. It was a delight to watch the youngsters going
through their paces in the Colchester Utd game and
playing in the Ratcliffe/Shelton passnrun
My own favourite player of the season
has been Neil Fisher (Not everyones favourite,
I know). A true class player, perhaps playing in a
division lower than hes worth. He may not be
the hardest worker in the side but a true delight to
watch when either dribbling or passing the ball. He
is without doubt, the best long-ball passer we have
had for years. He very rarely wastes a pass you
never see him lump the ball anywhere for the sake of
it. He is a similar player to Derek Jefferies, another
class performer, who starred for City during the seventies
(He used to get some stick from supporters as well).
Im hoping that Fish will be included in the managers
plans for next season. And what about his goal against
Colchester? Goal of the Season without doubt.
The management teams achievements
have been realised on very limited resources and
will not have gone unnoticed by other clubs in the
League. Lets hope the clubs future is assured
before an approach comes in for their services.
I dont want to cover old ground,
yet again, in this publication but it must be obvious
to all that Chesters future can not be assured
on a football only basis. The stadium must go all-sports
with added leisure facilities for there to be any future.
And finally can I appeal once more
for a sign at the end of Bumpers Lane, telling people
where the club is? No-one seems to know why there isnt
one as the cost would not be prohibitive. Or is the
club too embarrassed to tell people where it is?!
Editorial note. At the Fans Forum
Mark Guterman said that the Council has promised new
signs when the road works by the stadium are complete.