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28 September 1998

City chairman Mark Guterman paid a visit to the Deva Stadium last Friday (his first in six weeks) and admitted he’d ‘had enough’ after four years in charge at the club. He is still waiting for offers to come in for the club after putting it up for sale in the Financial Times back on July 31st. With a winding up order brought by the club’s own solicitors due to be heard on October 19th one option he has is to put the club into administration. Only David Pickering’s much publicised consortium have publicly stated their interest in the club, but Guterman appears reluctant now to talk to them. If the club is put into administration, approval from the Football League would be necessary. Whatever happens, it’s sure to happen soon, it would appear unlikely that the chairman will take the club all the way to yet another court appearance, but then again!
City manager Kevin Ratcliffe was disappointed following Saturday’s entertaining 2-2 draw with Cardiff City.“We threw away two points,” he said, “We took the lead and were then totally unprofessional. Our forwards stopped picking up their midfield players, people took throw-ins when they should have been doing another job elsewhere and we kept trying to force difficult passes when, at 2-1 ahead, we had to keep it simple. Cardiff City are a very good side, the best and most organised team we’ve played. But we had the chance to beat them and blew it.”
Striker Luke Beckett will play his first comeback match this Wednesday afternoon (2pm) for the reserves against Darlington. Said Ratcliffe: “Luke set a standard as soon as he arrived and people were talking about him. It has been disappointing not to have him in the team for all but the opening two matches.” Fans will be eager to see Luke return after his fantastic start with the Blues was cut short with his foot injury after scoring two goals at Port Vale.
24 September 1998

Spencer Whelan didn’t play in last night’s friendly after suffering a reaction to a recent knee operation. City won 3-1 with goals from Darren Wright, Philip Clench and Chris Blackburn. Meanwhile manager Kevin Ratcliffe faces selection problems for Saturday, the problem is who to leave out!. Chris Priest is available after a one-match suspension and fellow midfielder Nick Richardson is expected to be fit again after recovering from a groin strain. Both missed the match with Sunderland on Tuesday where Shaun Reid and Andy Shelton proved more than capable replacements.
23 September 1998

Spencer Whelan was expected to play in a friendly arranged against Warrington Town last night. The centre back hasn’t played a first-team game this season but could be in line for a recall soon providing no problems arose from that match. That now leaves only strikers Gary Bennett and Luke Beckett in the treatment room. Beckett is expected to play for the reserves against Darlington next Wednesday but Bennett, who has had a cartilage op, isn’t likely to play for another four weeks.
22 September 1998

City are in action tonight at the Deva in the second leg of their second round Worthington Cup tie. The match against Sunderland is ALL TICKET. Midfielder Nick Richardson has a fitness test on his groin injury but is rated doubtful for the clash following an injury picked up in training on Friday. Midfielder Chris Priest is suspended, so Rod Thomas could well be on from the start following his man-of-the-match performance at Carlisle on Saturday.

Meanwhile it’s reported in the press that chairman Mark Guterman has reported Sunderland to the Football League for DROPPING their prices for the first leg game – can you believe it!

Around 60 people took part in the ISA pub crawl around Chester on Sunday afternoon raising between £200-£300. Congratulations (and a double disprin) to all those who took part. I hope to have a report on the ISA page in the next day or so when the hangovers have eased!.
21 September 1998

Anyone tuning in to 606 on Saturday will have heard a complaint regarding the officious stewarding at Sunderland last Tuesday night. This complaint wasn’t from a City fan but from a home supporter based in the family enclosure to our left. There’s no doubt that the stewarding was over zealous to say the least and seemed to be conducted by two blazered men at the front. One particular incident (that the caller referred to) happened two rows in front of us and saw one City fan being literally thrown over the fence and dragged off by several policemen – for no apparent reason. An attempt to display the large ISA banner, for which permission had been sought and granted by the football club, was met with similar disdain by stewards and police alike. There’s no doubt that the general mood of the night quickly turned to anger following the action of these stewards, which seemed so unnecessary and could have provoked trouble. If you were there and have any comments please send them in and we will do our best to get an answer from Sunderland.
18 September 1998

Injured striker Luke Beckett saw a specialist yesterday and has been given the all clear to resume training. Beckett, broke a bone in his foot during the match at Port Vale after a blistering start to his City career scoring 8 pre-season goals and a brace at Vale Park.
Chris Priest is suspended for next Tuesday’s cup clash with Sunderland, he’s already picked up five bookings.
Former City defender Julian Alsford is currently on trial at Barnet and will play against Exeter at the weekend. He’s already turned out for Bournemouth reserves this season.
Today is pay day for the players, or so the chairman has promised. The players and staff were due to be paid on Tuesday but nothing was forthcoming. Manager Kevin Ratcliffe stated at the time: "We’ve now been told – not by the chairman but by someone else – that we won’t get paid until Friday. We need honesty and someone to tell us what the hell is going on at this club. We need answers quickly. We need to know where we stand and we don’t want pay days being changed. There are a lot of clever people at this football club and we are a little bit sick and tired of being treated the way we are being treated and it just can’t go on."The £40,000 wage bill was expected to be paid direct into the staff accounts this morning after Chester netted £80,000 from Tuesday night’s Sunderland match and are expected to get £20,000 from the all-ticket return next Tuesday.
16 September 1998

Considering City were forced to make three changes to the side, they never let their heads drop in last night’s 3-0 defeat at Sunderland and perhaps deserved a goal for their efforts. The fans certainly did. A constant noise was made for virtually the entire 90 minutes with the drummers, well done Adam Southwick and Lee Dodd, in fine form. City did have a few chances to score, notably early on with Reid and Flitcroft going close.

The best opportunity came in the second half when Alex Smith beat the offside trap to race through on goal but was stopped by a last ditch tackle. City fans chanted ‘Guterman Out’ throughout the 90 minutes and gave their own team terrific support. The ISA had a special 20x5ft banner made proclaiming "Dear F.A. Don’t let smaller clubs die – Chester City ISA." Nice to see two ex-players in amongst the crowd as well, Iain Jenkins and Dave Rogers, who face each other in the Dundee derby on Saturday.

Striker Gary Bennett, who missed last night’s match, is expected to be out for up to a month after having keyhole surgery on a knee cartilage injury.
So City don’t like playing on Tuesday’s then! Last night was the third successive 0-3 Tuesday night defeat following on from the games against Cambridge and Peterborough this month.
14 September 1998

Despite promises in the Chronicle last Friday by Mark Guterman, it appears that the latest round of pay cheques due tomorrow will not be issued until Friday. Meanwhile it was rumoured on Saturday that all gate money taken at the Deva is currently going straight to the PFA. And in an astonishing attack today manager Kevin Ratcliffe blasted chairman Guterman and told him to stop treating staff at the club as ’second-rate citizens.’ "It’s got to such a point that I feel I have to say something," said Ratcliffe, who last month had to tell the players they’d have to wait 10 days for their pay cheques. “It’s not my job to do that kind of thing. My job is managing a football club but that’s getting increasingly difficult when the chairman treats you like second-rate citizens. He keeps giving us assurances but they never happen. He must think we’re from another planet. I’d have quit if it wasn’t for the players who have been different class during all of this. They’ve all got bills to pay, mouths to feed. On top of that they’ve got to think about playing football. I can’t praise them highly enough but it’s not fair to treat them like this. You won’t believe some of the things that go on here but when you’ve got no-one in charge these things are going to happen. We’ve now been told; not by the chairman but by someone else; that we won’t get paid until Friday. What kind of preparation is that for game like the one we’ve got at Sunderland tomorrow night. Something’s got to happen quickly at this club for the sake of the players, the staff and the fans. They deserve better than this.”

Around 1200 supporters are expected to make the trip from Chester for tomorrow night’s Worthington League Cup match. It promises to be a great atmosphere inside the Stadium of Light. To add a bit of spice chairman Guterman is also expected to make his first appearance of the season. The Chester ISA. Members of the city’s Independent Supporters Association will be holding aloft a 20ft banner at the Stadium of Light pleading with the FA not to let small clubs die. They are also urging all fans to take along as many banners and plackards as possible, demonstrating your opinions of the chairman to a game that will attract a lot of media coverage.

ISA spokesman Michael Fair said: “This has gone on too long and the strain on the players and their families is quite unacceptable – how manager Kevin Ratcliffe has been able to maintain morale and produce a team that puts in magnificent performances on the pitch astonishes me. The FA must take some responsibility for these matters – they have repeatedly stood by and watched similar problems with autocratic Chairmen go on at a succession of clubs – Doncaster, Brighton, Bournemouth and Southend and now the mush publicised activities at Manchester United, Everton, Tottenham and Southampton.” He said the only way forward for clubs like Chester was for the FA to step in and bring equality to the game by financially protecting the smaller clubs and making club chairmen more accountable to the FA. “It is not just about our club – Chester is just at the top of a pyramid of a lot of clubs who are in a similar position.”

10 September 1998

Lawyers acting for City chairman Mark Guterman have confirmed once and for all that he is the legal owner of the club. There has been much speculation in recent months as to whether Guterman owned the 94% share after the previous owners Dovedene Ltd were dissolved. However Guterman has now provided information to Manchester-based solicitors Halliwell Landau clarifying the position. Spokesman Andrew Livesey confirmed that the ownership had been with Dovedene. However the shares were transferred into Mr Guterman’s own name on September 19 1997, two months before Dovedene were struck off by Companies House for failing to provide annual returns. Mr Livesey confirmed that the stock transfer form had not been registered with the Inland Revenue until the end of August.

Spencer Whelan played his first game of the season yesterday afternoon as the City reserves lost at home 2-0 to Wigan Athletic. Ross Davidson will be available on Saturday following his 1 match ban and manage Kevin Ratcliffe has hinted that changes may have to be made in the defence which has now let in 12 league goals, only Barnet have conceded more, nine of those of course in one match. Gary Bennett picked up a knock at London Road and is doubtful for the visit of Torquay United to the Deva.

4 September 1998

Striker Gary Bennett looks set to miss the match at Exeter as he’s suffering from flu and has missed training. If he does miss out then it’s likely that either Jon Jones or darren Wright who will fill his place alongside John Murphy up front. Shaun Reid is in the squad as is City trainee Danny Carson who scored in the 4-1 friendly win over Colwyn Bay this week. The Grecians have injury doubts over defenders Billy Clark and Graeme Power while winger Chris Fry is rated ‘doubtful.’ City’s last trip to St James’ Park resulted in a 0-5 thrashing and the sending off of Murphy. On a sad note Kevin Ratcliffe has paid tribute to 11-year-old footballer Nathan Fennah who died in a swimming pool accident after signing for the Blues schoolboy team.

Blues boss Mr Ratcliffe joined the many tributes which have been paid to the youngster who netted 68 goals in the last two seasons for junior soccer team Hawarden Rangers. “We offer our deepest condolences to the family and everybody who knew him,” said Ratcliffe. “It is a great shame because he had taken a step in the right direction. At the end of the day this puts football in its place and shows that it is not everything. My deepest sympathy is with the family and anything we can to help them we will. Nathan was a great sportsman and had signed for Chester City under 12’s this season,” said his father. The accident occurred at the Northgate Arena on Wednesday afternoon.

3 September 1998

Midfielder Shaun Reid is back in contention for a first-team recall after coming through 90 minutes of a specially arranged friendly with Colwyn Bay last night. The Blues won 4-1 with Jon Jones scoring twice. Danny Carson and Darren Wright also netted. City are expected to field the same side on Saturday as that which got thumped by Cambridge in the week, though Reid may find himself on the bench.

2 September 1998

Coaches for the Worthington League Cup match at Sunderland on September 15th will leave the Deva Stadium at 14.15 and seats are priced at £10.00. Please call the club for more details. Meanwhile match tickets for the away game are now on sale priced £10.00 adults and £5.00 concessions. Tickets for the home game go on sale next week at the Deva.
I have it on good authority (the FA) that these naughty players who have been red-carded recently will miss the following matches.
Rod Thomas – Cambridge United (H), Exeter City (A), Peterborough United (A).
Ross Davidson – Peterborough United (A)
Wayne Brown – Sunderland (A)
Andy Crosby – Sunderland (A)

1 September 1998

A magnificent effort by Southend United (and Chester) fans on Saturday raised a sum of £350.00 for the ISA Fighting Fund. Thanks to everyone who donated money and to Tony Hall who arranged the collection. Hall, chairman of the Southend ISA said: “I’d heard about what had been going on at Chester on ‘606’ last week and I thought we could do something about it. I spoke to our vice-chairman and he said we could have a collection. We were in the same position a couple of years ago and we’re just fans helping out another club for the love of football. We raised £350 and we hope that helps out. I suppose you call it a goodwill gesture.” Steve Spencer of the Chester City ISA said: “We didn’t really have much to do. Tony had arranged it all and he’s going to send the money to us. It’s a nice gesture on their behalf.”

This Friday, David Pickering is holding a meeting for existing and prospective shareholders of Chester City FC. The meeting will take place at 7.30pm in The County Stand Lounge at Chester Racecourse.

Mr Pickering’s consortium has stated that:

  • We still don’t believe that Mark Guterman is the beneficial owner of 94% of the shares in Chester City Football Club.
  • We congratulate the manager and the staff for keeping ’the show on the road’ in very difficult circumstances.
  • We applaud the Independent Supporters Association for raising money to alleviate the clubs apparent financial difficulties.
  • There will be a charge of £5 to cover administration costs and refreshments.

    The agenda for the evening will be presented on the night dependant on events between now and 7.30pm Friday September 4.

    All City fans are urged to get along and give their support.

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