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MAY 2000

31 May 2000
[Graham Barrow]Graham Barrow has today returned to the Deva Stadium as manager, he’s been given a two year contract. Barrow first approached Terry Smith regarding the job back in January prior to Ian Atkins appointment. Barrow will need no introduction to most City fans. He played 244 league games for Chester between 1986/87 and 1993/94. No doubt his finest hour was guiding City into the second division as runners-up in 1993/94 (12 months after relegation).

He left the Deva "over a matter of principal" following promotion and took over from Kenny Swain as manager at Wigan Athletic in September 1994, lifting the Latics from bottom of the table to a respectable 13th in his first season. Since then Barrow took over at Rochdale in May 1996 before being sacked and joined Notts County as assistant manager.

Speaking on radio Merseyside, Barrow cited the "poor form of several senior players" for Chester’s demise last season. "Five or six new players will probably have to be brought in". There has been no announcement at all yet from the chairman regarding the appointment.

Ian Atkins has severed his connection with the club. Speculation has linked him with jobs at both Carlisle and Notts County – we all wish him luck.
Some season ticket holders have been sent a reminder to renew their seats for the forthcoming season – others have not! The deadline on these letters for renewal (and the continued reservation of seats) was today. According to the letter City will be competing next season in the Football League Division 3 and our patron is the Duke of Westminster! Time to reprint the letterhead....

City striker Luke Beckett is reportedly the target for newly promoted Rotherham United. Beckett, who is out of contract would still command a fee as he's under 24 years of age. How much of that fee goes to his previous club Barnsley is uncertain. Meanwhile the club’s physio Joe Hinnigan also seems set to quit the Deva. He’s been approached by Walsall to fill in the physio duties at the Bescot Stadium.
30 May 2000
The next meeting of the ISA will take place TONIGHT at the Royal Mail Club, Station Road, Chester, kick-off 19.30. There will be two guest speakers, Harry McNally and ex-Northampton Town director Brian Lomax. Not to be missed.

26 May 2000

John Keister, Gary Hobson, Goran Milosavijevic, Jonathan Cross and Jonathan Jones have been released by the football club, while Shaun Reid, who is on the coaching staff, has been released from his playing contract. Meanwhile the club have offered new contracts to Luke Beckett, Wayne Brown, Darren Moss and Paul Berry.
25 May 2000
David Evans, one of the three directors appointed by the ISA to the board at Chester City has today tendered his resignation. In statement issued this afternoon he stated "due to a combination of personal and professional commitments � not least no longer living in the Chester area � I now find it impossible to continue." Mr Evans went on to disassociate himself for the remarks made by Terry Smith criticising the ISA in the local press earlier this week. Resignation statement

Following the meeting in London last night of members of the Chester City Exiles, the committee issued the following press statement

23 May 2000
The Chester Exiles committee have arranged an end of season meeting / social get-together in London tomorrow (Wed) night.

Venue: The Windmill, 6-8 Mill Street, London W1 (in the back bar)
Time: 18.45
Nearest Tube: Oxford Circus.

The meeting isn’t confined just to members but is open to all City fans in the area. Please contact the Exiles secretary if you would like to come along.

Items on the agenda will include:
Relegation � where do the Exiles go from here?
Relationship with the ISA
Relationship with Terry Smith and much more.

22 May 2000
Chester have scheduled a second pre-season friendly against Bristol City at the Deva Stadium on Tuesday 1 August. Sheffield Wednesday will visit the Deva Stadium on Saturday 15 July for another pre-season friendly.

Rod Buxton has taken over from Dan Brookes as the clubs Commercial Manager.

17 May 2000

Chester City have confirmed that they have offered (faxed!) Ian Atkins a one year contract with an option for a second season. The club are awaiting a response from Atkins. Since the end of the season Atkins has only been at the club for a couple of days and is currently away at a coaching conference for three days.

Atkins stated: "I have been offered a deal but I need to discuss the offer that has been put to me. There are a lot of things there. There are two issues. My own personal stuff which is important because of my family. Then there’s the question of what we’ve got to play with if the club is to have a crack at getting out of the Conference. I need to discuss it all further with Terry Smith but the main crux is that I would love to have a crack at it. I want to find out what I’m going to have to play with to get the club up. I thought the players for me were magnificent and as for the fans, I’ve never known anything like it before even on a larger scale. The way they whipped themselves round and the whole city got behind the club was terrific."

The club have registered a claim against Shrewsbury Town for an illegal approach and breach on contract when they took City coach David Fogg back in January. At the time Fogg was under a written contract at the Deva until the end of the 1999/2000 season. A Chester spokesman said: "We believe that there was a very serious violation by Sherwsbury in their taking of David Fogg from us. We believe that our loss of him, and Shrewsbury’s gain of him had to have a direct influence upon the Table, because an Assistant Manager is a very important position in a club". City are demanding that Shrewsbury be deducted League points thus re-instating Chester to the Football League.

At the open supporters meeting, those present voted unanimously to disassociate themselves with the club statement. Barry Hipkiss, chairman of the official supporters club said: "I am sad, because we could lose our good relationship with Shrewsbury over this. It is making the club a laughing stock."

Meanwhile David Fogg has stated: "I did everything by the book. I gave a month’s notice to leave Chester."

Chester City ISA will be holding a special meeting tonight at the Royal Mail Club, Station Road starting at 19.30, this is an open meeting not for just ISA members but anybody who has the good of Chester City at heart. We want as many people as possible to attend, and as many people as possible to speak.

Notes from the meeting

Season Ticket Prices
Terrace: Adult �152, Senior Citizens & Unwaged �121, Under 16’s �90.
East & West Stands: Adult �190, Senior Citizens & Unwaged �140, Under 16’s �100.
Executive Lounge: Adults �350, Senior Citizens �250.

Matchday Prices
Terrace: Adults �8, Senior Citizens & Unwaged �6.50, Under 16’s �5.
East & West Stands: Adults �10, Senior Citizens & Unwaged �8, Under 16’s �6.
Executive Lounge Matchday: Adults �20, Senior Citizens �15.

Car Park Charges
Season: �25. Matchday �2.

16 May 2000
On Thursday night in the Granada region there is a Chester City documentary at 23.30.

Chester will kick-off their first season in the Nationwide Conference League on 19 August. City will start their FA Cup campaign in the 4th qualifying round and will also partake in the FA Trophy and Nationwide MacMillan Trophy.

12 May 2000
Terry Smith, as owner and chairman, has led Chester City out of the Football League rather than to the promotion to which he aspired. This has been brought about by a catalogue of well documented problems and broken promises including the resignations of Kevin Ratcliffe and Dave Fogg, the failure to sign "top foreign players" or provide "very large financial resources", and Mr Smith’s self appointment as team manager. His complete inexperience of professional football was responsible for the situation from which Ian Atkins’ welcome appointment began.

The Club has also suffered financially through legal disputes, which Mr Smith has handled himself, false economy on player signings and now through the impact of relegation itself. We feel totally vindicated by our caution over the supporters’ share issue, which lost the club a further �140,000.

The ISA Committee deplores the post-match comments made about Mr Atkins’ managerial performance. We applaud him and the players for their efforts in almost recovering the situation and believe that concerted attempts should be made to retain their services.

The Board of Directors, as custodians of the Club should now consider their positions carefully in the light of recent events. The honorable action would be to resign. We echo the opinion of loyal supporters in having no confidence that Mr Smith can lead us out of the Conference in the right direction.

Les Smith, Martin Williams, Kevin Whitehouse, George Rogers, Alan Case, Sarah Evans, Phil Green, Mike Clifford, James Green.

11 May 2000
According to today’s Guardian and Daily Post, Gordon Hill has been offered the job as City manager by Terry Smith. Hill, a long-standing friend of Smith’s, was appointed a coach (behind Ian Atkins’ back) by Smith in the last few weeks and has reportedly agreed a contract. He once managed Northwich Victoria and has been coaching in the states (where else) for the last few years. Terry Smith has stated this afternoon on radio Merseyside that he has no plans to appoint Hill as manager.

9 May 2000
Chester City ISA will be holding a Special Meeting on Wednesday 17th May at the Royal Mail Club Station Road starting at 7.30 pm, this is an Open meeting not for just ISA members but anybody who has the good of Chester City at heart. We want as many people as possible to attend, and as many people as possible to speak. These are very dark days for Chester City, and we as supporters must make our feelings known. One thing we must do is close ranks and go forward together, the supporters of Chester City can and will make a difference.

All through this season my colleagues and myself on the ISA committee have wrestled with our consciences, we have been party to a lot of what has gone on at Chester City, but have been asked by the Ian Atkins to name but one to keep our council until the end of season, we agreed because we were desperate to help in anyway we could to keep Chester in the League, and we took some stick for this policy in many quarters.

The ISA will be making a statement in the next day or two, and I don�t want to pre-empt that but suffice to say we have spent a considerable amount of money this year helping Chester in areas that supporters should NEVER be required to do. I don�t want to end on a negative thought, because I know that Chester supporters will back us and I know that when the club eventually changes hand, and it will make no mistake, we as supporters will make sure we have a stake in the club and for the first time Chester City will be in the hands of people who will nurture and care for the club that we all love.

Kevin Whitehouse

8 May 2000
Former Chester City manager Kevin Ratcliffe has won his tribunal case against the Club at the Football League following an eight hour meeting today. City have been told to pay £200,000 to Ratcliffe, just where we’re supposed to find that kind of money remains to be seen. All this stems from a contract drawn up between former chairman Mark Guterman and Ratcliffe entitling Ratcliffe to a severance payment should he leave the Deva when a new owner came in. I would have thought that any such agreement should have been produced to administrator David Acland when he was running the club, perhaps it was, who knows!. Dan Brookes has said that Chester will appeal against the ruling.

City defender Matt Doughty (18) was jailed for four months on Friday. Doughty was imprisoned with five other men following a fight outside Mr Smiths night-club in Warrington last March.

He would no doubt have played against Peterborough on Saturday and had been attracting interest from several big clubs during the season. The club has got no one available for comment.

[Simon Harris BBC Television and Radio News]

For some reason known only to themselves the Liverpool Football Echo have decided to scrap Neil Turner’s excellent ‘Chester Scene’ column from the paper next season, presumably because we’ve been relegated. Why City fans should be deprived of reading about their team is beyond me, we’re going to need all the support we can get next season.
Today sees the Football League tribubal case between Kevin Ratcliffe and Chester City FC. Ratcliffe is claiming £200,000 in unpaid wages from an agreement he claims to have had with the former chairman Mark Guterman regarding a severance payment. Terry Smith will be a guest on Radio Merseyside’s football programme tomorrow night (Tuesday) at 19.00
7 May 2000
Yesterday’s 0-1 defeat to Peterborough brought to an end City’s proud 69-year record as members of the Football League, it’s the Conference for us next season. City finished joint bottom with Carlisle United but had a worst goal difference. Just how many of yesterday’s team will start next August remains to be seen, not many I would have thought. After the game The Observer reports that Terry Smith described Ian Atkins’ 23 points from 21 games as “unsatisfactory.” Quite amazing that, check the stats below and draw your own conclusions.

City were dead and buried at the New Year when Atkins took over managing the team from Terry Smith. A complete clearout of players with 12 new ones coming in gave us real hope, and we finished the season as one of the top form teams in the division, that sort of record has to be recognised.

League game stats for our managers this season:

  P W D L F A Pts
Kevin Ratcliffe 3 0 0 3 0 8 0 from 9
Terry Smith 25 4 4 17 22 52 16 from 75
Ian Atkins 21 6 5 10 22 28 23 from 63

Relegation Quotes

Player of the Season:
Luke Beckett. Runner up: Wayne Brown, Third: Stuart Hicks
Away Supporters Player of the Season: Wayne Brown
Evening Leader Supporter of the Year: Nigel Clarke
ISA Special Award: Ian Atkins

5 May 2000
Just 24 hours to go until the most important game in Chester City’s history. A win against Peterborough United at the Deva will guarantee third division football next season. A draw will leave City relying on Brighton & HA to beat Carlisle United or Shrewsbury Town to fail to win at Exeter.

Ian Atkins has a full squad available to pick from with the exception of Jamie Robinson and Angus Eve for the match which has attracted a full house at the Deva.

Whatever the outcome tomorrow, we can all be proud of the way the team has battled against the odds since Ian Atkins was appointed Director of Football in the new year. The players have responded magnificently in recent weeks and one or two astute signings have made all the difference. The City fans can also congratulate themselves for getting right behind the team in recent weeks. The decision by the ISA to offer subsidised travel in recent weeks has proved inspirational also, 800 at Halifax, 500 at Leyton Orient and over 1000 at Cheltenham last week. There’s no doubt that the noise has lifted the players when they most needed it. So one more final effort tomorrow and, hopefully, we’ll have cause for celebration at 5pm.

The May issue of the Match Of The Day magazine which contains the ‘Mission Impossible’ spoof concerning the Chester parrot mascot at Halifax is now on sale.

2 May 2000
Tickets for Saturday�s crunch match with Peterborough United at the Deva Stadium are selling well. A capacity crowd is expected. City must win the game to make certain of retaining their League status. A draw will be good enough if Carlisle lose at Brighton, and Shrewsbury fail to win at Exeter. Meanwhile tonight on Radio Merseyside at 19:05, Neil Turner will be interviewing City boss Ian Atkins. The show has a phone-in section so if you’ve got a question for Ian why not ring in.
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