| 31 October 1998
CITY TRAVEL IN CUP
Chester have been drawn away
at Cardiff City in the first round of the Axa F.A.Cup.
The game is scheduled for Saturday November 14th.
30 October 1998
PRIEST BACK FOR BLUES
After a three week lay off with hamstring trouble,
midfielder Chris Priest may be recalled for tomorrows home game with Shrewsbury
Town. Priest was due to play in the reserves on Wednesday but the game
was called off and his lack of match fitness may lead to manager Kevin
Ratcliffe naming the same team that drew with Hartlepool. Midfielder Shaun
Reid has done a superb job stepping in and may well have done enough to
keep his place. Likely City line-up: Brown, Davidson, Crosby Woods, Cross,
Flitcroft, Reid or Priest, Richardson, Smith, Murphy, Beckett.
Tomorrow lunchtime, BBC's Football Focus are running a feature on Chester
City.....DON'T MISS IT.
29 October 1998
WILL YOU BE THERE?
This Saturday Shrewsbury Town
visit the Deva Stadium. The ISA/Evening Leader campaign
to save our club is now in full swing. Following talks
between the ISA Committee and David Acland, it will cost
only £1 for children using the West Stand for this
match. It was the ISA members' idea to do these offers,
we must all now ensure that they are a success. Once again
it's vital that the people of Chester turn out to support
A poster campaign advertising the match will again be
evident throughout the City (anybody who can give some
time to get involved with this campaign should phone Sandra
Povey on 01244 340549 now). Providing the recent heavy
rain relents there's no reason why we can't expect another
crowd of about 4,000 for what is almost a 'derby' match
There's a chance also the following Wednesday to support
the promising City youth team. They play Manchester City
at the Deva in the first round proper of the FA Youth
Cup (ko 7pm). David Fogg has done a remarkable job with
the youth set-up over the last couple of years and he
and the team deserve all the support they can get. Entrance
fee is just £1.
Meanwhile the Football League have insisted that David
Pickering's plan of forming a new club is a non-starter.
The governing body has made it clear that it is against
the Blues being wound-up in order for the £500,000
debts to be cleared and a new company formed in its place.
A statement from Chester City read: "The Football
League have made it quite clear that the concept of forming
a 'phoenix' company and cherry picking the club's assets
with no return to creditors is not an option. It is contrary
to the league's regulations which are designed to protect
the interest of all football clubs."
28 October 1998
PICKING UP THE PIECES
The hard work of finding a
buyer for Chester City starts again today. David Acland
has five weeks now to find a buyer/investor for the club
and put a rescue package to the creditors. This must be
done before December 4th, and Acland must report back
to the court by December 18th. It is obvious that the
only assets the club have are its players and management
A letter will be circulated to all league clubs today
outline the players available. Unfortunately with a £500,000
debt to reduce it would appear that the best squad we've
had for years is about to break up - it's hard to envisage
any other solution. Rod Thomas has of course already gone
for £25,000 to Brighton but the only other offer
for a player was for David Flitcroft by the same club.
"It's difficult to know what other managers think
about prices on our players. I think we've got some good
assets here but it's whether other clubs think that"
added Kevin Ratcliffe.
On going into Administration Mark Howell of the ISA
said: "This was to be expected. The main hope is that they don't
give the players away that we get a fair price for them and don't
just bite their hands off if they are offering £10,000. If we want
then money then this is one of the things administration brings. It is
sad but inevitable it is better than the club just closing. At
least we have got a fighting chance."
The ISA are hoping to meet David Acland today to
discuss prices for Saturday's game with Shrewsbury.
27 October 1998
CLUB IN ADMINISTRATION
Chester City football club
have been placed in administration. It took a judge at
the Salford County Court 40 minutes this morning to grant
the order. Begbies Traynor now have seven weeks to find
a buyer for the club. They have been ordered to hold a
creditors meeting before December 4th. December 18th is
the final deadline to find a buyer.
All the City players have been placed on the transfer
list though City manager Kevin Ratcliffe has stated there
will be "no cut-price departures". In turning
down the winding-up order the judge Nigel Howarth commented:
"There is a genuine prospect of success but somebody
has to come forward with new money."
24 October 1998
MORRISONS STILL HAVE SAY
It has been revealed that Morrison's still have
a major influence in the running of Chester City. The previous owners still
have a 'special share' in the club, probably linked to the fact that they
are guarantors for the Deva rent to the council. This special share allows
them to over-rule decisions made by the club board. Added David Pickering: "Morrison's
still have a special share in Chester City would permit them to do that.
It would be untenable for the consortium to commit funds to the club while
such a power remained in Morrison's' hands."
PICKERING TO MEET FOOTBALL LEAGUE
Consortium leader David Pickering hopes to meet
senior Football League officials on Monday. He will be outlining his plans
to reform the club as a new company should they be wound-up on Tuesday.
However the League have expressed "serious reservations" over
the formation of a 'new' football club rising phoenix style out of the
old one. The consortium intend to offer new contracts to all the existing
staff including the manager and players for at least a month or so, until
the new board is in place when the situation will be reviewed. "I
will tell them (the League) that we are a credible group of businessmen
and individuals with money we are prepared to spend prudently on the sound
organisation of a community-oriented Third Division football club" said
Should Mr Pickering's consortium take over at Chester he would sit as chairman
and the board would probably include representatives from the council and
the supporters associations. "Shares would be sold to local people,
and a variety or purchasing schemes are being explored by the consortium
and both MBNA and Capital Bank" added Pickering.
WHO ELSE IS INVOLVED?
According to David Acland of Begbies Traynor
there is 'more than one' interested party in taking over at Chester City.
The way things have gone over the last few weeks anything is possible in
the next 72 hours and there is still time for a last minute bid for Mark
23 October 1998
NEXT COURT APPEARANCE LOOMS
Unless something dramatic happens in the next
48 hours, Chester's next appearance in the Manchester County Court will
be next Tuesday.
City will then again face the winding-up petition served by the club's
solicitors Halliwell Landau that was adjourned from last Monday. Begbies
Traynor meanwhile will apply to put the club into Administration. If accepted,
Begbies Traynor will administer the club an behalf of the crown and will
in the meantime attempt to find a buyer. However, we've seen from other
cases of this nature (ie Northampton Town) that drastic cuts were immediately
made (staff instantly sacked) during administration in an effort to trim
running costs, and the same may apply at Chester. If the court rules that
the winding-up procedure should proceed then that's the end of the football
club and they would have to cease trade immediately. The court can adjourn
proceedings for up to a period of three months. The court may wish to adjourn
proceedings at future hearings if it believes a deal with a new buyer is
22 October 1998
BLUES GO THROUGH
City beat Tranmere Rovers 1-0 at Prenton Park
last night in the first round of the Cheshire Senior Cup. Defender Scott
Thompson scored the winner in front of an estimated crowd of 150. Three
senior players played, Spencer Whelan, Neil Cutler, and Gary Bennett alongside
Darren Moss, Matty Doughty, Scott Thompson, Phil Clench, Andy Shelton,
Darren Wright, Jon Jones and Danny Carson. City's victory was marred though
by an injury to Gary Bennett. The Blues will now travel to Altrincham in
the second round, the tie to be played w/c November 16th.
ISA MEET CITY COUNCIL
The Chester City ISA met with the City Council
on Tuesday afternoon to jointly discuss the way forward for out football
club. Council leader Cllr John Price said the authority wanted to show
potential buyers that one of the biggest organisations in the city was
100 per cent behind Chester City FC. "We have taken the first steps
along with the ISA to save Chester City FC but I am sure it will be quite
a long road to secure football in Chester," he said. The meeting proved
rewarding and both parties issued this joint statement afterwards.
Chester City Council leaders met with the ISA at the Town Hall today
to discuss the Club's situation. In a productive and useful meeting
the Council reaffirmed it's support for Chester City Football Club
and agreed to work alongside the ISA and other parties to ensure
that league football stays in the City The ISA suggested a number
of ways of bringing the Club and the Community closer together and
the ISA were impressed with the commitment the Council gave to consider
these ideas. The Council and the ISA have agreed to meet on a regular
basis in what promises to be a fruitful partnership"
A magnificent sum of around £950
was raised by the ISA at Tuesday night's game against Hartlepool.
Thanks to all those who donated to the fighting fund.
20 October 1998
CITY AT HOME AGAIN
Chester are back at the Deva tonight when
they take on Hartlepool United in the third division. Once again
a large turnout of fans will help City's financial cause. Chester's
last midweek league game against Cambridge saw a crowd of 2,199 and
an increase on that of 750+ would be a good start. "It all sounds
obvious but if there is a good turn out at tonight's match potential
buyers will be able to see for themselves that there is support out
there." said City's prospective administrator David Acland.
One ex-player who'll be there tonight is Peter Jackson, now managing
Division One leaders Huddersfield Town. "It's sad to hear what's
going on and I'll be there on Tuesday to watch the lads."
If City can get into the winning habit at home,
then a serious promotion push would be on the cards. The 2-0 victory
over Torquay is Chester's only home success in six attempts but
City's terrific away form has kept them in touch with the top and
we are currently just six points behind league leaders Brentford.
Chester are expected to be unchanged tonight as Chris Priest is
still troubled with a hamstring injury.
Meanwhile PFA player spokesman Nick Richardson
has reassured fans that the current squad wont be splitting up
if at all possible. "We had a meeting on Friday and were told
that firing wasn't an option if the club went into administration.
We want to stick together because we think we've got a good side
here. None of the players want to go and I don't think any of them
have been tapped up by other clubs. We're unbeaten in six, the
lads are playing with confidence and we're only six points behind
the leaders; and that's not bad going considering what's been happening
off the field."
The players received their wages over the
weekend, once again paid for by the PFA. Unfortunately background
staff haven't been paid for some time including the office staff
and groundsmen. Groundsman John Hipkiss, 30, of Sealand Road, has
worked with his colleague Gary Kent for the last 16 years and last
night spoke in the Evening Leader about the latest crisis. "We
have been here before. I have seen them when they were nearly down
and out before in the eighties but they came back again, but this
is worse. At the end of the day I just hope everything comes through." John
praised the Independent Supporters Association for rallying the troops.
He said: "Every credit to them all. At the end of the day I
don't know what we would have done without them."
19 October 1998
City have managed to get an eight day
adjournment of today's court case. Measures are now being implemented
by Begbies Traynor to save costs. It would appear that the club may
now be placed in Administration during this next eight days. If that
is the case it gives three months grace before a next winding-up
order can be made. Tomorrow night's game will now definitely go ahead.
TODAY'S THE DAY
The immediate future of Chester
City FC will be decided today at the Manchester County Court.
City's prospective administrator David Acland of Begbies Traynor
will be looking to get an adjournment of 10-14 days (perhaps
longer) on today's winding-up order to give his a little breathing
space as a buyer is sought for the club. With no club records/accounts
apparently available to look at he's had very little chance
so far to get to grips with the mess at the club and it would
appear that the chances of an adjournment are quite good. In
a few hours we'll know!
Saturday's attendance of just under 4,000
was a tremendous response to a lot of hard work that's gone
into promoting the club over the last few weeks. Any potential
buyer will be aware of the groundswell of support that the
city is capable of producing. The longest travelling spectator
was no doubt Alan Hind who flew all the way from Australia
to attend the match in view of City's predicament. The 30
year old has lived in Australia for four years and said: "I
have a great affection for this little club, and if this
is to be their last game in the football league, then I had
to be here"
Tomorrow night (court case pending!) Chester
are at home to Hartlepool United in the third division. Once
again a large attendance, 2,500+ would help City's cause
and impress any potential backer.
Chester reserves visit Tranmere Rovers
on Wednesday (7pm) in the first round of the Cheshire Senior
16 October 1998
GETTING THE MESSAGE ACROSS
Never before has the city centre
been awash with Chester City posters and stickers. Over the
last couple of days volunteers from the ISA and the Evening
Leader newspaper have been drumming up support for City's vital
match with Swansea tomorrow. It is absolutely imperative that
the people of Chester come along and support their local team,
not just tomorrow either, but throughout the troubled weeks
The ISA's Mike Fair said about 15-20 Blues
fans trekked around the city putting up posters in shop windows
and handing out leaflets promoting the match "They hit
Foregate Street, Eastgate Street, Frodsham Street and other
main streets in Chester and said the response was incredible," said
Mike. "Granada TV were out filming with us yesterday
and BBC are doing something today so if the club does not
make it through the crisis it will not be due to a lack of
effort. There is nothing more we can do now. It is down to
the people of Chester to come to the Deva and support Chester
City Football Club,"
The Independent Supporters Club have also
sent out letters to every councilor; urging them to back
their local club. Every councilor in Chester and neighbouring
Flintshire will receive a letter. And the ISA's Mike Fair
warned that fans will not forget their absence come next
year's local elections in April. Posted to 60 councilors,
the letter reads: "As many of your constituents are
Chester City supporters, it might be a good opportunity for
you to indicate your support of the club by showing your
presence tomorrow. It is important to many Chester people
that the club continues to have a representation in the Football
League and we are doing all we can to retain our league status."
Meanwhile good news comes from Preston-based
corporate rescue company Begbies Traynor who have already
received enquiries from potential buyers for the club and
will continue to try and clinch a deal over the weekend.
On the pitch tomorrow the Blues could be without midfielder
Chris Pries who has a hamstring injury, expect Shaun Reid to
deputise in an otherwise unchanged side. Swansea have injury
They have doubts over hamstring victim
Richie Appleby and strikers Steve Watkin and Julian Alsop
who have been struggling with a virus and will face late
fitness tests. One Swans player looking forward to the fixture
is Dave O'Gorman. He was born in Chester and all his family
will be turning out at the Deva for the match.
Chester will be at home to Hartlepool
United in the first round of the Autowindscreens Shield.
The game will take place on Tuesday 8 December.
15 October 1998
YOUR CLUB NEEDS YOUR SUPPORT
Probably never before in the history
of our club has a big turnout been required for a match as
much as it is against Swansea City on Saturday. Chester are
desperate to find a new buyer and any prospective backer
of the club will be looking to Saturday's attendance as proof
that the city really does want, and can support, a football
league club. Last night David Acland of Begbies Traynor,
told a packed house at the ISA meeting in Chester that if
the winding up order on Monday goes ahead Tuesday's game
against Hartlepool will be called off it's as simple
as that. "If the club goes into liquidation the players
contracts will be terminated and there will be no match on
Tuesday. That's the worst case scenario and we're obviously
working to ensure this doesn't happen."
This is the last, and most important
chance before Monday's court appearance, to back the efforts
of both the players and staff at the club and the ISA for
galvanising a tremendous fighting spirit amongst the City
fans over recent weeks. Mr Acland explained: "The
more people that turn up to the match on Saturday will
show the judge on Monday that it is a going concern and
will allow me successfully to ask for some more time before
the club is wound up."
At the meeting, ISA chairman Mark Howell,
called on everyone present to "pepper" the city
with leaflets and posters, produced by the supporters group
and the Chester Evening Leader. "We will not rest
until every single person living in Chester knows about
what is going on at the club. We should put leaflets and
posters everywhere, libraries, chippies, hair dressers,
pubs, restaurants; everywhere we touch," he said.
At the end of the meeting hundreds of
die hard Blues lined up to sign the Chester Evening Leader
petition and pledged their support to the ISA's election-style
campaign in the run-up to Saturday's crucial match. Mr
Howell added: "The situation has been described as
dire but I personally think that is an understatement."
So it's up to us to do our bit now. Get
as many of your friends down to the ground as possible.
All those dormant fans who haven't been for ages their
presence is required. ISA members have been busy leafleting
the streets of Chester all day today, and will continue
tomorrow and Saturday morning in an effort to drum up support.
And finally, for those who've never
been the the Deva Stadium before you're even more welcome
and will find details of the ground here.
14 October 1998
The Football League have stated
that "Chester City going extinct is not an option." Football
League spokesman Chris Hull remains optimistic about the
club's future and said they would be given all the support
they need, just a day after Chester chairman Mark Guterman
announced that he is looking to put the club into administration.
" We have spoken to Mr Guterman and he has told us that administration is
an option he is looking at," Hull said. "We have met with the club
on a number of occasions and we are in dialogue with them on a regular basis. "We
will offer them every piece of advice we can, every possible guidance we can
and hopefully we can help them develop a platform to develop from in the future."
12 October 1998
GUTERMAN CONSIDERS ADMINISTRATION
Chairman Mark Guterman has
indicated that he intends to put Chester City into Administration.
He's appointed corporate rescue and recovery specialists
Begbies Traynor & Co to look at the current situation
at the football club and apply for Administration if they
It's important to note that the club can only be placed
in Administration on the order from a judge in chambers.
With the next Winding-Up petition to be heard next Monday
it doesn't give Begbies much time to prepare Chester's
case and begs the question as to why this decision wasn't
taken weeks ago when it was all to apparent what the dire
financial situation at the Deva was. They will probably
be looking for a second postponement of the Winding-Up
order served by the clubs own solicitors Halliwell Landau
which is for a sum of £8,000 in unpaid fees.
Meanwhile City manager Kevin Ratcliffe has pleaded for
a buyer to come in soon. "I would like to say to
any interested parties to come in now and buy the club,"
he said. "What worries me is that people could come
in and start stripping me of the players here. We want
to keep the players here because we have the basis of
a good squad; our results and performances this season
have proved that. We should have a clearer picture of
what's happening later this week; and adminstration could
be a possibility. But what is very important to me is
that the club doesn't stay in administration for long.
If a potential buyer comes in they've got to take over
soon because I'd really like to keep the players I've
The following statement has been issued
today by City chairman Mark Guterman.
I have announced this morning that I
am looking to put Chester City Football Club into Administration.
Since putting the club up for sale over two months ago I have been in
negotiation with a number of potential buyers for the club.
I have been very close to finalising a deal for the club but unfortunately
this finally broke down last evening due to the prospective purchaser's
I now believe that the only way forward for Chester City is the route
of Administration. Accordingly, I have appointed Begbies Traynor & Co
to pursue this route. We are also being advised by Evershed's the Manchester
Like David Lloyd of Hull City Football Club, I have personally put more
money into Chester City FC that any other individual in the club's history.
I have continued to put money into the club despite announcing three
months ago that I would not. Enough is enough.
I have constantly read in the local press about local individuals who
want to put money into the club. Now is their opportunity.
As soon as a buyer is found through the Administration route, or other
solution is obtained I will step down as chairman of the club.
PRESS RELEASE FROM BEGBIES TRAYNOR & Co
We have recently received formal
instructions to advise the Club as to the most suitable
route with its current financial predicament.
The Club faces a Winding-Up Petition,
due to be heard on Monday 19 October 1998. If a Winding-Up
Order is made, the Club will be in liquidation, the effect
of which is that it will cease to trade from that date.
In order to avoid the closure of the Club, consideration
is being given by the directors to petition for an Administration
Order and we are currently reviewing the financial position
of the Club and, importantly, the trading projections to
the end of the 1998/99 league programme.
The administration route is only a viable
rescue option if the support of various parties can be
obtained including the Football League.
From our initial review, the financial
projections reveal a significant cash deficit. Whilst we
can identify a number of potential cost cutting measures,
even if such measures were implemented immediately, the
Club is in dire need of a substantial cash injection and
we would ask that any parties interested in either investing
in or acquiring the Club, make contact with us at the earliest
David Acland, Partner, Begbies Traynor.
Tel: 01772 202000 Fax: 01772 200099
9 October 1998
CRUCIAL TIME FOR CITY
No doubting the next few days
are going to be some of the most crucial in the history of
our football club. In order to get the winding-up order scheduled
for October 19th cancelled, chairman Mark Guterman must place
the club into administration by the end of today. There is
still talk of a 'mystery buyer' for the football club stepping
in at the last minute but it seems unlikely that anyone will
pick up the £500,000 debt with the club in its present
precarious position, things should hopefully be a bit more
clearer after the weekend.
On Sunday Chester visit Underhill to
play Barnet (ko 3pm). Luke Beckett is expected to start
the game with John Murphy up front. Julian Alsford may
turn out for the home side providing he recovers from a
knock. Alsford, who has a property in north London, is
on a loan period with the Bees after having trials with
Walsall and Lincoln and is hoping to make the move permanent.
Live full match commentary from Sunday's
game will be broadcast on Radio Merseyside. Roger Hughes
(Head of Sport at Radio Merseyside) would like to hear
from Chester fans regarding this and if people are happy
(and he gets positive feedback) he's promised to run other
live commentaries in the future.
As expected Rod Thomas completed his £25,000
transfer to Brighton today, it's also been revealed that
Dave Flitcroft turned down a move to The Seagulls last week.
8 October 1998
THOMAS TO JOIN BRIGHTON
Rod Thomas is set to join Brighton
and Hove Albion today. He's training with the Sussex club
at the moment, and although the two sides have yet to agree
a fee (expect about £25,000) he is expected to sign
after completing a medical today. Seagulls boss Brian Horton
said: "I have spoken to him and he is coming down today,
so I don't anticipate a problem. He's a tricky little winger
who's given us problems in the past. I have seen him twice
recently and he's a handful, something we haven't got".
Thomas' family and girlfriend live in the south and Thomas
still lives in Watford so the move to Brighton would suit
Rod Thomas said: "I don't know what
the fee is but I'd like to think that any money the club
makes would go towards paying the players wages. It's sickening
what's happening at clubs like Chester where players aren't
getting paid; and all you hear is people from the Premiership
moaning about money. Despite the problems the team spirit
at Chester was brilliant and I was happy there. And I'd
just like to say thanks to the fans for the support, thanks
to the staff and thanks to the manager, who has been brilliant
Both Carlisle and Scarborough have
been interested in signing the winger but no firm offer had
been received from either club. Blues fans will be bitterly
disappointed to see Thomas leave as he's been in superb form
of late after being given an extended run in the side in
his favoured position.
7 October 1998
FANS ANXIOUSLY WAIT
The waiting game continues for City
fans as we all prepare ourselves for the news that the club
has been put in the hands of the administrator. In order to
stop the winding-up order on October 19th a decision on administration
has to be made by the end of this week. Once again though there
is paper talk of a last-minute mystery buyer interested in
the club though we've all heard this before. "We don't
care who's in charge," said the frustrated Kevin Ratcliffe. "We
just want to know if we're going to get paid next week. I'm
hopeful that something will be sorted out this week, we'll
just have to wait and see what happens."
Northampton director Brian Lomax gave a
revealing insight to The Evening Leader of what happens when
a football club goes into administration.
"The administrators came in and
one of the first things they did was dismiss the management
team and 12 of the highest paid players at the club,"
said Lomax, who was instrumental in getting the supporters
involved in the running of the club.
"We set up a trust in January 1992 and we'd raised £30,000 by the
April. That was transferred into shares when a new board was set up and we've
now put £80,000 in and have nine per cent of the shares at Northampton.
They were dark days at first because we hadn't a penny to rub together and we
had a team of YTS' and had two very poor seasons." Northampton finished
second from bottom and then bottom.
They only survived the dreaded drop to The Conference because Kidderminster's
ground didn't meet league standards. Somehow Northampton struggled through
although they were helped by a voluntary arrangement with the creditors
where the £1.6m debt was cut to £400,000.
"We've since wiped out that debt, we've moved to a new stadium and we've
been to Wembley twice," added Lomax.
"My advice to football clubs who reach this point is to get the supporters
involved in the running of the club. Even if they weren't in that position, I
would recommend this way. We were lucky because the administrators who came;
Parnell, Kerr and Forster; became supporters of the club and put money in. They
still attend home and away games. But it's our links with the council and the
community together with the supporters' trust that have brought the club together."
2 October 1998
BECKETT RETURNS WITH A GOAL
Striker Luke Beckett scored in
his comeback game with the reserves on Wednesday as the
Blues drew 1-1 with Darlington. Beckett played for 60
minutes and had no ill effects afterwards and is expected
to be on the bench for tomorrow's game at Scarborough.
"When you've got players of quality you have to take
them with you," said Ratcliffe, who watched Beckett's
successful comeback in the reserves on Wednesday. "He'll
probably be on the bench." Beckett's return will
be eagerly awaited by City fans who have seen their side
battle well during his absence. Nick Richardson has fully
recovered from his groin injury and fill be competing
with Shaun Reid and Chris Priest for a place in midfield.
Meanwhile Dave Flitcroft may miss the game as he has a
Of the other injuries, John Murphy has almost recovered
from an ankle injury and may feature tomorrow; Gary Bennett
has resumed light training following his knee operation
though Spencer Whelan is some way off a return following
a reaction to his recent cartilage operation.