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NEWS FROM DEVA STADIUM 1998
January | February | March | April | May | June | July | August | September | October | November | December
JANUARY 1998
29 January 1998
SPENNER TO RETURN?
Spencer Whelan looks set to return to the City side on Saturday after coming through last night's 1-1 draw at Hull with the Chester reserves. Full back Martin Giles also looks likely to keep his place against a side he supported as a boy. Giles, the only natural left footer in the side, was born in Shrewsbury and supported his home-town club until he started as a trainee at Chester City three years ago under Derek Mann.

28 January 1998
JENKINS GETS CALL UP
City skipper Iain Jenkins has been called into the Northern Ireland B squad for their game against the Republic of Ireland on February 11. "I'm delighted to get the call up," said Jenkins, who has already won two full international caps.

27 January 1998
CITY AIM FOR THREE MORE POINTS
Chester take on Cardiff City at the Deva tonight looking for three more points to boost their promotion standing. Manager Kevin Ratcliffe will either keep the same side as at Cambridge on Saturday, or may decide to start with Rod Thomas in place of Rod McDonald. Spenner is still unavailable, so Matt Woods will again deputise alongside Julian Alsford at the back. Anyone going along tonight is welcomed to send in a match report.

FANS FORUM
There will be another fans forum in the social club at the Deva Stadium next Monday night (7.30pm). Those attending to answer questions will be chairman Mark Guterman, manager Kevin Ratcliffe and striker Gary Bennett. Spaces are limited to 100 supporters as that is all that can be accommodated in the supporters club!

CHAIRMAN REVEALS LOSSES
Chester Chairman Mark Guterman has revealed that the football club are currently losing £350,000 a year.
And Guterman, who rarely talks about the club's finances, explained in the Evening Leader that: "There's no money to bring players in because my money is going in to keep the club alive."
City forked out a hefty Inland Revenue demand before Christmas but the £75,000 they received from Sky for the live FA Cup clash with Wrexham was a much needed present.
"We're losing money – about £350,000 a year," added property developer Guterman – City's chairman for three years. "You can't even think of buying players when you're losing that much money. I've got an £80,000 bill to pay and that will be almost £1m of my money I've put into the club."

Guterman has no directors on board to lessen his financial burdens. But he is prepared to step aside if anyone potential buyer can match his cash input. "I've stated may times before that people can come forward and I'll always be interested in talking to them. And if they can do a better job than me than I'll stand aside. But we've never had any offers."


26 January 1998
RATCLIFFE LINKED AGAIN
Not for the first time, Kevin Ratcliffe's name has been linked with the managerial vacancy at Third Division Cardiff City. The Bluebirds sacked manager Russell Osman on Friday and Kenny Hibbett is currently in charge of things in a caretaker role. Cardiff are to advertise the job soon, though by all accounts aren't rushing into a decision. Both Ian Rush and Lou Macari (who worked with Cardiff chairman Samesh Kumar at Birmingham) have also been mentioned as a possible successor. Ratcliffe joined Cardiff as a player in August 1993 and played 25 games (scoring one goal) for the club helping them to the championship that season.

Ratcliffe, who is currently on a four year contract at the Deva, has since commented: "It's all speculation and no-one has approached me about the job." But he has had talks with Cardiff chairman Samesh Kumar before about taking over as manager of the south Wales side. "I did have talks with him last season before Russell Osman got the job," added Ratcliffe. "But I turned it down because I've got a job to do at Chester City."

Obviously he's going to move on sometime but it's hard to see Cardiff as a step-up on the managerial ladder. Managing Everton or taking over as the Welsh coach would be prime posts for the 37-year Deesider – the second longest serving manager in Division Three. Cardiff may not be the ideal move for Ratcliffe, whose family are settled locally in Ewloe.

23 January 1998
CITY LOOKING FOR FIRST WIN
City travel to the Abbey Stadium tomorrow looking for their first-ever League win at Cambridge at the eleventh time of asking. Both Neil Fisher and Matt Woods played in the reserves 2-1 defeat by Scunthorpe on Wednesday night (Fisher scoring the goal), and are expected to feature in the starting line-up. Defender Spencer Whelan may also be in contention for a place, provided he's fully recovered from a knee injury. Chester will be looking for a third away day victory on the trot following encouraging displays at Hull, and especially Lincoln. Last season the match at Cambridge ended 2-2 with the Blues fighting back after being two goals down in the opening five minutes. Goals from Andy Milner and Stuart Rimmer earned the point in an exciting encounter.

Chester City (from): Sinclair, Jenkins, Fisher, Whelan, Alsford, Flitcroft. Priest, Richardson, Thomas, Bennett, Rimmer, Woods, McDonald, Jones, Murphy, McKay.
Cambridge United (probable): Barrett, Chenery, Wilson, Ashbee, Foster, Campbell, Wanless, Brebner, Kyd, Taylor, Butler. Subs from: Barnwell, Duncan, Williamson, Joseph, Beall.


21 January 1998
RESERVES IN ACTION
City's reserves play Scunthorpe United at home in the Pontins League tonight. Both Neil Fisher and Matt Woods who have recently recovered from injury will get a run out as will Gary Shelton who has played only twice for City this season and celebretes his 40th birthday in a couple of months.

DAVIDSON HAS OP
City full back Ross Davidson is expected to be out for a month following cartilage surgery at the weekend. Spencer Whelan, who missed Saturday's defeat by Barnet, is also suffering from a knee ligament injury and is doubtful for Saturday's trip to Cambridge.

19 January 1998
CITY CHAIRMAN BLASTS 'DICTATOR' SHEEPSHANKS
Mark Guterman used Saturday's match programme with Barnet to launch an attach at the Football League's temporary chairman David Sheepshanks (currently chairman at Ipswich Town). Mr Guterman is worried that plans to restructure the Football League are geared up to satisfy a small number of 'big' clubs in the first division and would prove disastrous for the likes of Chester City.
He stated: "I believe that Chester City FC, and many other clubs are currently under threat by a group of first division chairmen who seem determined to destroy our league system. You will have read in the press about the various proposed changes to the league system and I would like to take this opportunity to explain my stance on the matters being considered.
Fourteen months ago, a group of first division chairmen set out, in the midst of a disorganised football league, to gain control.

They were well organised and persuaded gullible chairmen of lower division clubs to vote with this first division revolution which promised all things to all men.
Mr Sheepshanks who led the coup, is still sitting in power as a dictator, holding control and telling us that they will hand over power in the near future.
This new age they promised us with commercial opportunities aplenty has not materialised and proposed commercial contracts seems to be withering away rather than flowering.
The only new idea they have put forward with any form of enthusiasm is an idea which they say will increase income.

It is the plan to re-organise the league which they have put forward in the form of various options, named after planets. I believe the option they are intending to push ahead – Mars – entails reducing the first division to 20 clubs and increasing the second and third divisions to 26 clubs. 'Mars' was put forward as the only viable option for the first division and it is the one being pushed by Mr Sheepshanks and his gang.

No one has proved to me or even put forward any figures which show that this new system will benefit lower division clubs like Chester.
I believe that we have to stick with the present system ('Earth') until a real alternative is put forward which provides real benefits to every team in the first, second and third divisions. We will never support ideas that simply line the pockets of 'wannabe elitists' of the first divisions.
F
rom the reports that I have received, it appears that the 'Mars' option would mean that the 20 clubs in the first division would be able to negotiate their own TV contracts. This would mean that they would effectively be taking the lion's share of monies from the football league.

What 'planet' are they on? Do they think that we only fell to 'Earth' yesterday?"


13 January 1998
DAVIDSON BLOW FOR CITY
Full back Ross Davidson could be sidelined for up to six weeks. The full back, who limped off towards the end of Saturday's victory at Lincoln, has had a cartilage injury for a couple of weeks and aggravated it in training prior to the Lincoln game. This is a big blow for City. Davidson has only just returned following a six week lay-off after a hernia operation and had settled straight back into the side giving it stability at the back.

Also injured at Sincil bank were Ronnie Sinclair (toe), Chris Priest (foot), and Spencer Whelan (knee). When Davidson was out of the team recently, Martin Giles capably stepped into the breach, but he is currently suspended after being sent off for the reserves. Ryan Dobson is also sidelined through injury. Neil Fisher is currently out with a thigh injury but may may resume training shortly.

9 January 1998
LINCOLN PITCH INSPECTION
There will be a pitch inspection at Sincil bank tomorrow morning sometime between 09.00 and 10.00. Those, like me, travelling a long distance should ring Lincoln City Football Club on 01522 880011 to check before travelling.

8 January 1998
CITY DUO OUT
Chester players Neil Fisher and Rod McDonald are both ruled out of Saturday's promotion clash at Sincil Bank. City's only other injury worry is that of Rod Thomas who has missed training with a virus, not unlike that which struck down several Blues players just before Christmas. News from Lincoln regarding the game looks good. With last night's reserve match postponed the pitch is playable and weather forecasts for the area in the next few days are good.

7 January 1998
CARDIFF MATCH DATE
Chester have re-arranged their recently postponed home game with Cardiff City for Tuesday 27th January.

5 January 1998
JON ON THE MARK
Jon Jones scored twice as City fought back from 1-4 down to beat a Stockport County u-21 team 5-4 in awful conditions on Saturday.

2 January 1998
CITY LOOK FOR FRIENDLY
Chester are hoping to arrange a 'behind-closed-doors' friendly match next week. Tomorrow's East Fife friendly postponement, along with the reserve game at Hull next week, will leave the players short of match practice when the travel to Sincil Bank next Saturday for the clash with promotion rivals Lincoln City.

IN THE TREATMENT ROOM
At least the blank Saturday gives the chance for several City players to recover from their injuries. lain Jenkins (back), Rod McDonald (hip), John Murphy (knee) and Mattie Woods (chest infection) should all be in contention for the Lincoln game.
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