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Is Rock 'n Roll The New Football?
KR's Tuesday Night Deva Jinx
View From The West Stand
Archaeology Corner
Manic Moment
Home Thoughts From Abroad
Book Review
Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire


Such a lot seems to have happened since I last put pen to paper for Hello Albert. The near demise of our beloved football club and then the appearance of the American cavalry over the brow of the hill in a dramatic eleventh hour rescue.

I must state now before I go on that I would have preferred an English, preferably local buyer but it would be churlish not to be grateful to Terry Smith, along with the help of the ISA for their rescue mission. Every City fan sincerely hopes that the new regime brings success and a prolonged period of stability for the club. It is pointless, however, to ignore the fact that mistakes have been made by the New Order and these have to be addressed if the club wishes to go forward.

I should know, if anyone does, after running my own business for nearly twenty-five years that there is a need for the books to balance; that out-goings should not exceed income, plus the need to get the club on a firm business footing and so on. But if your business has been in rapid decline for some time I would have thought that the last thing you would do is to increase the cost of your product to your remaining faithful customers.

I know the benefits of the season ticket offer but not everyone can either afford one or simply want one. Like it or not, the club is still reliant on a certain amount of casual supporters at every game and I know that, speaking to some of them, the increase in prices have made them think twice. Especially with big increases for children as well. I remain to be convince by someone at the club that fewer supporters paying more has proved more successful than more supporters paying less.

The fact remains that our home game attendances for League matches remain lower than this time last year and, are the lowest in the Football League. A number of clubs in the Conference regularly get bigger gates than we do. Some readers may say that prices are only in line with other League clubs but that proves nothing if it means that the increases have cause less punters to come in through the gates.

Whilst admiring Terry Smith�s optimism, I think that some of his ambitious forecasts have been ill-advised. First Division football in three years; a team of international stars playing regularly in front of a packed Deva Stadium week after week � such pronouncements are pure fantasy. Has Smith not examined the history of the club? He would see that, realistically, even in a successful promotion season the Deva Stadium was barely half-full for most games. This is quite apart from the fact that the stadium is hopelessly inadequate to stage First Division football � the whole ground would have to be reconstructed if that ever happened. Let�s be realistic, most Chester supporters will settle for a moderately successful Second or Third Division team, provided that they are watching entertaining football and that there is a lasting stability at the club.

Another of Terry Smith�s pronouncements was his plan to sell five thousand half season tickets. Didn�t anyone tell him that in previous seasons the sale of full season tickets rarely rose above the five hundred mark? I expect some people to criticise me by saying �What�s wrong with talking the club up?� The answer is � nothing except that it makes a laughing stock of the club to its local rivals and supporters. Most die-hard realistic football supporters know these predictions are just not going to happen � no matter how well-meaning they may have been. Most City supporters will tell you that we have heard these kinds of ambitious promises before from previous owners ranging from a stadium with a sliding roof to a Five Point Plan to Success (Which never even got past the first point).

Now to the playing side, and the �Americanisation� of the match days. I can understand Mr Smith�s idea of trying to create a feel good atmosphere before matches, but his plan of trying to �Gee up� everyone before kick off is proving to be more of an irritation I�m afraid. There have obviously been some problems keying up the PA�s mini-disc player. If we are to have to listen to positive songs before the match can we have the whole song and not just snippets of each which are badly segued as it is.? And why is everything at such ear-splitting volume? And do we have to have so much chatter? One of the joys of attending your local football match is to see and chat with old friends before the game and at half-time. But this is becoming near impossible due to the over loud music and pronouncements over the PA.

One thing I must say is that I think Terry Smith is grossly unfair to blame the club�s present position on the previous manager, Kevin Ratcliffe. Due to off field activities he was totally under prepared and very unlikely to be able to field an immediately successful side and I think a more concerted effort should have been made to keep him at the club.

Now I�ll turn to the introduction of international players to the club. Well, if they all come off, great. But what worries me about this idea is that time is not on Chester�s side and unless a winning run is put together soon, we could be stranded at the bottom of the League by Christmas. I am not convinced that the introduction of these players on a weekly basis will help the situation. We need players who are seasoned pro�s with experience in our League and who will battle for us. But I suspect they would cost too much either in wages or in signing on fees whereas the foreign newcomers are coming in relatively cheaply. Another drawback with the international newcomers, mentioned to me by another supporter, is it�s difficult getting to know different faces every other week. One of the more appealing things about following football in the lower leagues is the allegiance between supporters and players. It doesn�t seem that long ago that the bulk of Chester sides remained unchanged for weeks at a time. If faces change on a weekly basis, supporters become alienated from their favourite players and the most important thing is that they stop caring. Players who have been part of the club for some time are suddenly dropped to accommodate yet another international signing. This causes resentment and does nothing for team spirit.

I am not totally convinced by the multi-manager team either. Who has the final say in team selection? As for having a captain of defence, and a captain of midfield, that idea is just silly. How can the striker be captain of the forwards when sometimes in games this season there has been only one up front anyway? It just gives outsiders another reason to laugh at the club.

I hear people saying, �Well what would you do about it?� and "What gives you the right to criticise?" As a past club sponsor and a passionate supporter of the club for nearly forty years I have seen seasoned City supporters, for various reasons stop watching their local team. I am not convinced that the current regime�s plans are going to win them back. My own ideas for a solution have been aired on these pages and others before. Simply, I am convinced that hoping to make Chester City a viable financial success by relying solely on a moderately successful football team is totally unrealistic. Let�s be honest, it�s not worked before.

An all sports Community Sports Stadium is the only answer. The ground must be open all the year around � providing an alternative and additional income to the football. I do not know of the current financial situation at the club or what money may become available, but this kind of plan would require substantial investment before a return is possible.

But may I finish by saying I wish all at the club the best of luck and may Neil Fisher play for ever!.

Chris Courtney-Williams

ISSUE 27 Editorial
Is Rock 'n Roll The New Football?
KR's Tuesday Night Deva Jinx
View From The West Stand
Archaeology Corner
Manic Moment
Home Thoughts From Abroad
Book Review
Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire


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