31 July 1998
CLUB FOR SALE
Chairman Mark Guterman has
put his 94% shareholding in the football club up for
sale. A notice appears on page 15 of today's Financial
Times and reads:
Chester City Football Club Ltd.
A unique opportunity to acquire 94% of this Third Division Club.
Contact: M S Guterman Chairman, Box B6008, Financial Times, One
Southwark Bridge, London SE1 9HL.
This news comes on the back of a
difficult two weeks at the club. We have seen the manager
paying the water bill, an emergency meeting called
of the minority shareholders, a new company being formed
by a local consortium to step in should the club go
into administration, and the threat of a players strike
on the eve of the biggest game at the Deva for years.
It's obvious that the chairman is going to want to
recoup as much money as possible from the sale, but,
once again the lack of any published accounts for three
years will no doubt be a major concern to any prospective
buyer. The consortium headed by David Pickering have
made it clear that they are unwilling to take on the
debt that the football club currently has, rumoured
to be up to 500,000k.
Guterman went on the offensive: "The
past six months have tortuous for me, not only financially
but personally," he said. "The current situation
has caused disruption of my family life and a constant
drain on my personal resources. During the close season
we have successfully re-structured the club, brought
in five excellent players and, I believe, we now have
a Chester City squad which is the best for many a year.
It is all the more galling that when everything is
geared for the future, I find that I have to come to
this decision to sell the club. Bogus shareholder's
meetings, mischievous approaches to club sponsors and
a negative press campaign from a so called consortium
have all led me to this decision."
On hearing the news David Pickering
commented: "It is sensible for him to move on. It
is obvious he has been running short of money and it
is time to let someone else have a go. I will be responding
to the Financial Times advert to request more information."
Jonathan Cross has now signed
for Chester City. He becomes the fifth signing made be
Kevin Ratcliffe during the summer. Matt Woods has also
agreed new terms after being on a weekly contract during
29 July 1998
OPEN DAY CANCELLED
The Deva Stadium open day planned for Sunday morning
has been cancelled. The event described last year as a "massive success" by
the then chief executive Bill Wingrove was attended by 1,500 people. No
explanation has yet been given for the cancellation, but once again it's
the supporters, and especially the children, who miss out on a chance to
meet the players and view the facilities. I would have thought the extra
revenue from sales of new shirts etc through the club shop would have been
welcomed as well!
REID RARING TO GO
Shaun Reid successfully came through 35 minutes
of a youth team match at Everton on Saturday and is raring to get back
to league action with City. The battling midfielder said "My fitness
is quite good and I shouldn't have any problems lasting 90 minutes. As
far as the knee is concerned I won't have to do anything to protect it.
I went for some tests at Gobowen and they found that the knee I damaged
is actually stronger than the other one because of all the work I've been
doing on it."
Supporters will be hoping that Reid's recovery is now complete. Having
him back is a great boost to the squad who have so far shaped up well during
their pre-season games. Reid may feature in tomorrow night's friendly at
Runcorn that will feature a mixture of first teamers and reserves.
28 July 1998
FANS VOTE WITH THEIR FEET
inaugural meeting of the Chester City Independent Supporters Association
was a resounding success. Close on 250 people turned up to a packed Cross
Keys on Monday night to pledge their support for the newly formed organisation.
Around 120 fans joined up on the night, and others are urged to sign up
to give the fans a real voice through these troubled times.
A successful Red Card campaign was staged at Saturday's game when hundreds
of City's fans showed their dissatisfaction at the running of the club.
More news of the meeting will appear on the ISA pages in the next day or
GUTERMAN IN TALKS
Chairman Mark Guterman held talks yesterday morning
with David Pickering chairman of what's now been known as 'the local consortium'
with an interest in securing the long-term future of the football club.
Mr Pickering and former general manager Bill Wingrove met at Mr Guterman's
Manchester home for talks. Guterman has agreed to produce details of the
club's assets and liabilities to the consortium by the end of this week.
It is clear that there will be no movement or possible offer until these
details have been scrutinised.
David Pickering warned fans that things will probably
get worse before they get better but said: "It was an amicable meeting
meeting and is crucial in the evolution of Chester City. The ownership
of Chester City Football Club could be in the hands of the people of
Chester in a couple of months."
Guterman wasn't present for Saturday's showpiece friendly
against Everton. Saturday's game only went ahead after the chairman paid
outstanding wages in cash at 12.30pm (rumoured to be at a motorway service
station). City's PFA rep Nick Richardson commented: "If the money
hadn't been paid then a decision on whether we would have played would
have been made as and when it was necessary. It was one of the biggest
games we've had at the ground and it's unfortunate that this had to happen.
But the fact it was such a big game added extra weight to the threat
of a boycott. Throughout all this I was in touch with the PFA and they
have advised us accordingly. I hope we don't have to consider anything
like this in the future. It is the wish of all the payers that this situation
never arises again." I think we'll all agree with that!
Tonight speaking on radio Merseyside where he was at
Vale Park watching Port Vale v Everton, Guterman totally denied all stories
regarding the payment of the wages on Saturday, the way they were paid,
the amount involved etc. He insisted "The club won't go bust".
Meanwhle injured trio Alex Smith, Nick Richardson
and Shaun Reid were expected to play some part in today's friendly against
a Blackburn Rovers X1.
25 July 1998
EVERTON MATCH ON
Today's game with Everton is definitely on. The
players have been advised by the PFA to fulfil the fixture which is almost
a sell out, we shall see what happens after that!
24 July 1998
Tomorrow's game with Everton is in doubt after it
was revealed that seven Chester players are going on strike from 5pm tonight
unless they receive their wages. News was broken by Charles Lambert on
Radio Merseyside and has appeared on Ceefax in the North West. Mark Howell,
spokesman for the newly formed ISA will appear on BBC North West TV tonight
to discuss the latest embarrassing crisis at the football club. This is
the third occasion that staff cheques have bounced and a players spokesman
said "enough is enough".
23 July 1998
GUTERMAN ANSWERS BACK
City chairman Mark Guterman has reacted in a rather
predictable fashion to the news of unrest amongst the minority shareholders
at the club. Once again he describes himself as the "one person who
has kept the club alive over the past three years", conveniently forgetting
who it is who actually puts the money through the turnstiles week in week
out. While on holiday in the Algarve he stated: "Forming a new company
for what purpose? Holding Press conferences, issuing stories of shareholder "no
confidence" (when I own 94 per cent) even approaching club sponsors
and trying to get them to pull out of supporting the club is not what I
call a positive contribution to Chester City Football Club. I would like
to reiterate to all Chester City fans I'm the one person who has kept the
club alive over the past three years, on some occasions to the tune of £7,000
per week. I say again, if anyone wants to contribute to Chester City in
anyway then please do it through the proper channels and contact me, and
not through the back door, which will only result in damaging the club."
Perhaps if the chairman wants people to approach him
through the 'proper channels' he should hold a shareholders AGM (there
have been NONE since he took over) then shareholders may officially air
their views, oh, and perhaps he'd like to issue a set of accounts through
the 'proper channels' then we can all see how the club stands financially.
At the end of last season Mr Guterman pledged in the
City match programme that there would be a "restructuring of the
club to increase commercial business" over the summer. There has
been no visible evidence of this to date, all we have seen is the shock
resignation of Bill Wingrove the General Manager and mounting debts and
bouncing club cheques.
Chester have cried off from tonight's friendly game
at Holywell Town due to injuries and the team's late arrival back from
Bath. City have arranged a game at Blackburn Rovers next Tuesday. This
is a private match behind closed doors.
Former Chester full backs Martin Giles and Ryan
Dobson are currently having trials at Telford United.
21 July 1998
SHAREHOLDERS VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE
Last night's meeting of shareholders at the Deva
Stadium passed a vote of no confidence in the current chairman Mark Guterman
and the way that the football club was being run. There was concern expressed
in the meeting that since the parent company of the football club Dovedene
Ltd had been struck off (as revealed here first
on April 1), it was unclear as to the whereabouts now of the majority shareholding.
Shareholder, and meeting organiser, David Pickering suggested the formation
of a new company 'Chester City (1998) Ltd' which will be set up
and ready to act should the club be put into administration. The formation
of this new company was unanimously agreed and its directors will be: David
Pickering, Bill King, Tony Durkin, Mark Astbury and Barry Hipkiss. Forms
for a share issue (min £10) in the company were made available, these
will no doubt be generally available very soon. The meeting was attended
by about 30-40 people that included representatives from the local papers
and radio Merseyside. There is a press conference sometime today.
20 July 1998
WHELAN IN JAIL
It was revealed tonight that City player Spencer
Whelan has spent three nights at her majesty's pleasure in Liverpool's
Walton prison. Whelan was arrested on May 7th after being caught drink
driving following the end of season players party. He was seen driving
erratically through the Merseyside Kingsway Tunnel and when stopped was
found to be three times over the legal limit. Whelan was sentenced to two
months in prison but appealed against the sentence. He was successful in
his appeal but had to spend time in prison due to an administrative problem.
He has been banned from driving for two years and ordered to undertake
150 hours of community service. Kevin Ratcliffe acted as a character witness
for Whelan in court describing him as a very reliable team member, who
also got involved with charity work.
McDONALD JOINS BARROW
Rod McDonald, sacked by Chester City for disciplinary
reasons last season, has joined Vauxhall Conference side Barrow. The Holker
Street club are also trying to persuade Stuart Rimmer to join them for
the start of the new season.
Postcript (5/8/98): Rod McDonald's Barrow AFC career is over before
it even began. The former Chester City front-man has quit Holker Street
after failing to agree playing terms with Barrow AFC chief Owen Brown.
The Barrow boss said McDonald did not sign a contract with the Bluebirds
and has now left the club 'by mutual consent.'
PICKERING CALLS MEETING
Football club shareholder David Pickering
has written to all fellow shareholders of the company expressing his
concerns about the financial future of the football club. He has organised
a meeting for tonight at the football ground to discuss his intentions
to look at the possibility of starting a new company to run
the football club. Mr Pickering is a shareholder in Chester
City Football Club Ltd and Chester Race Co. Ltd. Hes a Chartered
Accountant and Chairman of a local business Bodfari Ltd. Interested people
other than shareholders are welcome to attend the meeting which will
take place in the Executive Lounge at the Deva Stadium starting at 7pm.
With this meeting, and the setting up of an Independent
Supporters Association in Chester a week later, it looks as though were
going to see some concerted action in finding out just what has been going
on at our football club under the current regime.
KEVIN SAVES THE DAY
Friday's match with Tranmere Rovers was nearly
called off at the last minute after it was revealed that the Dee Valley
Water Board threatened to cut off the supply after a cheque (believed
to be of around £5,000) bounced. Water Board officials turned up
at the Deva Stadium and demanded an instant payment to cover the amount
owed. With the chairman on holiday in Portugal, it was left to City manager
Kevin Ratcliffe to stump up the money from his own personal finances.
Tonight's pre-season friendly game against Cwmbran
Town has been switched to Chepstow. Rod Thomas could play some part in
the game if his injured knee suffers no reaction in training today.
NEW SIGNS POINT THE WAY
After years of waiting, road signs pointing the
way to the Deva Stadium and 'Chester City FC' have at last appeared throughout
the City making their debut for the Tranmere match. Of the game itself,
there were some encouraging signs for the new season. Non more so than
the form of City newcomer Luke Beckett who scored a couple of fine goals.
Jonathan Cross, playing at left back, also had a good game and it will
be interesting to see if he's done enough to earn a contract at City
(if we can afford it!). Three key City players missed the match, Rod
Thomas, Chris Priest and Shaun Reid who are all unfit. Newcomer Alex
Smith also missed the game with an ankle knock picked up at Caernarfon.
Chester traveled south yesterday for a mini tour and have a game against
Cwmbran tonight, and a match at Bath City on Wednesday.
17 July 1998
TOUGHER TEST FOR CITY
Chester's pre-season programme steps up a gear
tonight with the visit to the Deva from Division One neighbours Tranmere
Rovers. Rovers have said they are bringing a full squad and City's defence
can expect to be tested a little more than in the previous two matches
which have seen a thumping seven-goal victory at Caernarfon and a draw
at Connah's Quay. One likely non-starter tonight is Rod Thomas who is
still having problems with his knee. The match kick's-off at 7.30pm.
Admission for the match is pay on the gate, £7 adults and £2
Chester City are hosting four football courses for children during the
summer holidays. Full details from John Kerr on Chester (01244) 377408
15 July 1998
CROSS ON DEVA TRIAL
Ex-Wrexham player Jonathan Cross is
joining City tomorrow for training. Cross (23) played against The Blues
for Connah's Quay Nomads last night. "I played for an hour and spoke
to Kevin Ratcliffe after the game. He is interested in getting me to
the Deva to train tomorrow and Friday. I want to keep my options open
and obviously the priority is to stay in the Football League. I don't
mean any disrespects to Connah's Quay by that because they have been
very good to me up to now.
They are offering me a good part-time deal on the football side and there
is also a chance of a full-time job. I'll just see what Chester have to
offer and take it from there. But I still feel I could do a job for anyone
on the football side. I was pleased with my performance last night and
my fitness is good. I have been training through the summer, but the new
season is now getting close to decision time for me."
Cross, would be Ratcliffe's fifth signing of the summer should he join
the Deva set-up and may be the key left-sided player the manager has been
14 July 1998
Congratulations to City physio Stuart Walker
who was yesterday awarded an honours degree in physiotherapy from the
University of Salford. Stuart began a career in football as an apprentice
with Leeds United in the late 1970s but his career was cut short due
to a serious injury while he was at York City. He said: "It was
through the injury that I really got interested in physiotherapy. I used
to travel with the reserve team at Barnsley Football club. But I was
getting sick of going to grounds where I had previously played and knowing
I could not play anymore. I took time out of football and went to Leeds
rugby league club." It was during his time at Leeds that Stuart
became a physiotherapist and was awarded a qualification in the field
from the Football Association. He enrolled on a four-year course at Salford
University before he started at the Deva Stadium and is now qualified
to work in a NHS hospital. The course involved completing 1,200 clinical
hours in hospital and learning the latest methods in treating injuries.
Stuart has been kept busy at the Deva during the summer. Currently occupying
the treatment table are Chris Priest, Rod Thomas and more recently of
course Shaun Reid.
10 July 1998
TRIO MISS FRIENDLY
Chester begin their pre-season build
up with a trip tomorrow to Caernarfon Town (ko 3pm). Gary Shelton
will be taking their first team squad for the fixture and is
expected to play trialist Paul Jones. Shaun Reid however won't
be making the trip. The midfielder has just seen a specialist
and hopes to be fit for the start of the League action on August
8th. Also out is Chris Priest who is recovering from surgery
on his knee, and winger Rod Thomas who has cartlidge problems.
City's other weekend friendly at Prestatyn has been called
off as the home side are having difficulties fulfilling the
fixture. On Tuesday Chester play the first game in Connahs
Quay Nomads' new Deeside Stadium (ko 7.30pm).
CROSS FOR CITY?
Meanwhile City are showing an interest
in ex-Wrexham winger Jonathan Cross. The 22-year-old has been
recommended to City by Cliff Sear, now director of youth at
Wrexham. Cross, who can play on the left wing, left back or
up front, is also believed to be a target for third division
rivals Shrewsbury Town.
The Evening Leader has reported that
four businessmen: David Pickering, Tony Durkin, Mark Astbury
and Bill King are all keen to invest in Chester football club.
Chairman Mark Guterman has denied though that he has had any
talks with the potential investors. David Pickering,
of Higher Kinnerton, is a farmer and chartered accountant with
a number of business interests in the city. He owns diary farm
Bodfari on the Wrexham Road and 18 months ago set up Bodfari
Stud, which breeds race horses. A Cheshire County councillor
between 1993 and 1997, Mr Pickering is also involved in the
running of Chester Race Company.
Tony Durkin, is managing director of an engineering firm QHP and was
unsuccessful in his attempt to take over the club back in 1994.
Bill King, of Tarvin Road, is chairman of the
GM Vauxhall Conference league and director of a pub company.
Mark Astbury is the financial director of advertising
firm Eclipse Creative Consultants, based on Vicars Cross
EVERTON ALL TICKET
The pre-season game against Everton
on July 25th is all ticket. Tickets go on sale on Monday between
10am and 2pm (£10 stand with £5 concessions, £7.50
terrace), so don't ask me how you're supposed to get one if
9 July 1998
CHEQUES STILL BOUNCING!
It appears that Chester City's financial
problems are mounting up. Last night on radio Merseyside Neil
Turner revealed that several writs were soon to be issued on
the club for non payment of bills. Not only were the phones
cut off recently but water, electricity and gas bills are still
outstanding as is a large payment owed to the printers of the
match programme at Chester City. Last week a Chester player
had a cheque returned to him by the bank. Neil Turner also
revealed that he had spoken to members from TWO consortiums
yesterday, one involving David Pickering, the other a couple
of Manchester businessmen, and both were interested in putting
money into the football club but not while the current regime
was in place.
The long overdue accounts have still not been lodged. The football club
was sent its final warning letter on May 27 from Companies House but failed
to respond to it. As a result the club are eligible to be listed in the London
Gazette and this will take place in the next few weeks. Publication
of the company name here may result in the club being struck off the company
8 July 1998
Chester City General Manager Bill
Wingrove has resigned from the club. No reasons have yet been
given for this, but this news couldn't have come at a worse
time. It transpires that Bill actually resigned on June 29th
and his resignation was lodged at Companies House on 6 July.
Bill had been involved at the Deva Stadium for three-and-a-half
years, and has initially refused to explain his decision. Fans
spokesman Barry Hipkiss said: "I am surprised but it
must be something of concern for Bill to take this step."
Mr Wingrove stated: "I don't want to elaborate on my decision to
leave but I'm going to pursue other interests," I've enjoyed my three
and a half years at Chester and there have been good and it's a been a
challenge but the parting has been quite amicable. But I've made my decision
and in a way it's yesterday's news."
BILL WINGROVE LEAVES CHESTER CITY
Chester City Football Club has announced
that Bill Wingrove, general manager, is to leave the club.
Mark Gutermann, Chester City chairman, said: "Bill
Wingrove has made an outstanding contribution to the running
of the football club over the past four years. He has been
a tremendous asset to the club and personal friend to me over
that time." However, as we have finalised our plans
for the new season, during which time Kevin Ratcliffe has made
some excellent signings, Bill has decided that he now wants
to stand down and concentrate on his personal business affairs.
I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks to Bill for his support
over the past few years."Chester City will be announcing
the new general manger of the club in the near future.
6 July 1998
CITY TAKE ON TRIALIST
Barrow centre half Paul Jones is
currently having a trial at the Deva Stadium, 19-year-old Jones
missed one game for the newly promoted Conference side last
season. He was previously with Tranmere Rovers and had trials
with Rochdale last season whilst still playing for the Holker
Street club. Both Stockport County and Macclesfield Town were
keeping an eye on him last year.
City start their pre-season programme this weekend with games at Caernarfon
and Prestatyn where the side will be a mixture of first teamers and reserves.
Back in the starting line-up for City though will be Shaun Reid, now fully
recovered from his injury picked up this time last year.
3 July 1998
OPERATION FOR PRIEST
Chester City's Chris Priest is facing
a race against time to be fit for the new season after undergoing
knee surgery. However the midfielder is confident of recovering
in time for the big kick-off on August 8 against Leyton Orient
at the Deva Stadium. City's assistant boss Gary Shelton revealed: "Chris
has had his cartilage tied up and we expect him to be sidelined
for three weeks."
2 July 1998
WORTHINGTON LEAGUE CUP DRAW
Chester have been drawn against
Port Vale in the first round of next season's Worthington League
Cup (formerly the Coca Cola Cup). The first leg is at Vale
Park, with the return at the Deva a week later.
CHAIRMAN MISSES OUT
City chairman Mark Guterman has
failed in his attempt to become the Third Division representative
on the Football League's new six man board. That place has
gone to Leyton Orient's chief and snooker entrepreneur Barry
Hearn, who made a late bid for the committee position.
1 July 1998
CITY SIGN CROSBY
After weeks of speculation, City have finally
signed 25-year-old defender Andy Crosby. The former Darlington centre half
was being chased by a host of higher division rivals but has put pen to
paper on a three year deal. Chester spokesman Bill Wingrove said: "Andy
is a big lad with a physical presence and comes highly recommended. We
are delighted." With this, and the re-signing of Nick Richardson
things are looking a lot better on the player front. It remains to be seen
if this is the last of the summer activity in the transfer market.