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NEWS FROM DEVA STADIUM 1998
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OCTOBER 1998
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 their club.

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 this season.

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 team.

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 Mr Pickering.

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 Guterman's shareholding.
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 imminent.

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"

ISA COLLECTION
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
CASE ADJOURNED
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 Cup.
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 ahead.

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 problems too.

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.
CUP DRAW
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
LEAGUE BACKING
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 think suitable.

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 got."

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 existing commitments.

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 Solicitors.

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 possible opportunity.

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 him.

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 with me."

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 throat infection.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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