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HELLO ALBERT, HELLO SPION KOP!
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HELLO ALBERT • ISSUE 26  

[Albert Badge]

Editorial
Back To The Future – Part 2
Could The Roman Revolution Come To Chester?
United For Survival
Thoughts Of Chairman Mark
United Colours Of Football


COULD THE ROMAN REVOLUTION COME TO CHESTER?

A quiet revolution has gone on at Bath City FC of the Dr Martens Premier League. The club is now run by its supporters. Could this be a way forward for League clubs like Chester?

Early Bath
Chester’s pre season friendly with Bath gave us the opportunity to re-visit Twerton Park, host to several encounters with the exiled Bristol Rovers. The latter are now back in their home city but Bath had come to rely on their lodgers so much that their removal provoked a financial crisis. This has acted as a catalyst for a remarkable and inspiring take over of the club by its own supporters.

After City’s unremarkable friendly match in August, a group of us grabbed the chance to speak to Steve Hall, former chairman of the supporters’ club and now chairman and chief executive of the football club itself. We cornered him in the supporters’ lounge afterwards and he was really happy to talk to us.

Re-launch week
The main concern had been, once the supporters took over, to promote the football club in its home City. A re-launch week took place in March, preceded by an imaginative poster and leaflet campaign. The football club was advertised as Bath’s best kept secret. Events included:

• A photographic exhibition;
• A nostalgic evening with Malcolm Allison, Tony Book and other ex-players;
• A business lunch with Nick Hornby in attendance;
• A Football Any Questions Evening with Kenneth Wolstenholme, Tony Robinson (Baldrick) and others;
• A schools penalty shoot out at the Saturday match;
• A live band and special celebrity appearances.
• A Football Special bus service was laid on
• The local newspaper published a special supplement
• A promotional video was made of the week.

Another aim during the re-launch week was to start a new weekly lottery which would help provide income but also a system of contact within the city. It all sounded exciting but achievable. The most important thing is that supporters were asked to get involved and do something.

I, for one will be watching Bath’s progress with interest. They are aiming to build slowly, to reach the second division of The Conference next season.

From one Roman City to another
Could a similar thing happen with Chester? I think it could but it would probably mean players going part-time. The cloth would very much have to be cut to fit the club’s income. Clubs like Chester have over-stretched themselves financially, often gambling by offering lucrative contracts to players who will help win promotion. This way of operating may become a thing of the past if clubs are run by their supporters. Tony Banks, Minister of Sport, implied as much recently. Indeed there is a proposal by the Third Division Association that clubs must cap their players’ salaries to no more than 51% of their annual turnover. This proposal is said to have been a big success in Rugby’s Super League (Peter Rowe, the Nationwide’s new director of communications was appointed from a similar position in Rugby ). As yet, there is no proposal to cap transfer fees or signing on fees.

It may be the end of any realistic ambition of promotion to the higher echelons of the League – perhaps the price we would have to pay for survival. It might mean also that Chester would have to find their level below League status – unthinkable perhaps but would it make you support them any less? I’d be interested to know your thoughts.

Albert


ISSUE 26 Editorial
Back To The Future – Part 2
Could The Roman Revolution Come To Chester?
United For Survival
Thoughts Of Chairman Mark
United Colours Of Football
 
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