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29 August 1998

Next game for the Blues is on Tuesday night when Cambridge United visit the Deva Stadium. One of City's bogey teams this, until last season, the only time we'd beaten the U's in the league was the first time we met back in 1972. No doubt the team will be buoyed by today's victory at Roots Hall and will looking for three more points to move them further up the League.
28 August 1998

Chester traveled south today as they prepare for the visit to Roots Hall tomorrow. They take on a Southend side currently leading the division with Rotherham United. City are expected to name an unchanged side from the one that drew 2-2 with Hull City on Sunday. Shaun Reid's recovery takes another step forward with an outing for the youth team tomorrow. The game also marks the return of Gary Bennett who spend a year and a half at Southend in the late 1980s. "I scored a few goals there playing on the right wing," Bennett who hasn't scored in the League since last November said: "I think I just need one to go in off my backside; any goal would do at the moment. But it's just not falling for Murph and me although I don't think it will be long before we give some time a hiding. We're playing good football and we're always going to score goals."

In a superb gesture of goodwill Southend have agreed to make a collection for the ISA at Chester's away game tomorrow to raise cash for the players. "This is a magnificent gesture and demonstrates that while there is rivalry among supporters we all have the love of the game in common. It is a pity that Mr Guterman does not seem to share this attitude". said ISA chairman Mark Howell

27 August 1998

David Pickering was met by two specially hired security guards when he attempted to gain access to the Deva Stadium this afternoon. Around 50 fans turned up at the stadium to watch the proceedings. He confirmed that he would be asking Mark Guterman to prove once and for all that he owns the majority shareholding in the club. The event was shown on both BBC and ITV regional tv, with interviews with Mr Pickering, Gary Talbot and Dave Flitcroft amongst others. Mick McGuire from the PFA was also interviewed. He stated that the Players Union had been helping out with wage payments at Chester for 12 months now, and that they had been studying the financial situation at Chester and would be issuing a report in a week or so. The office staff at Chester, who are still awaiting their wages, have been given some money from the ISA's Fighting Fund.

Mark Guterman hasn't been at the ground for seven weeks now, and hasn't spoken to manager Kevin Ratcliffe for four weeks. The club is believed to have current liabilities in the region of £500,000.

26 August 1998

It's the League Cup tie Shaun Reid dreamt about, away at brother Peter's Sunderland. Chester will visit the Stadium of Light for the first leg of the Worthington League Cup tie (w/c 14 September) with the return at the Deva a week later. This will hopefully be a big money spinner for the Blues and gives both players and fans the chance to visit one of the best grounds in the country. Details of ticket arrangements will appear asap. I assume the Deva game will be all-ticket with these available in advance of the first-leg, though nothing has been confirmed yet.
Mick McGuire, assistant chief-executive at the Manchester-based players-union, will meet with players at The Deva tomorrow. "I'll be coming to Chester to keep the players informed of the situation, we want to help the club out to secure it's long term future. We were approached to assist the club and we will continue to advise them on the best ways forward for the club." said McGuire.

The PFA are monitoring the situation at Chester after once again bailing out the club and helping with the monthly wage bill, reported to be about £40,000. McGuire has been liaising with City's PFA rep Nick Richardson.

City's game at Barnet on October 10th has been put back 24-hours due to England playing at Wembley on the Saturday, and the away trip to Cardiff has been brought forward 24-hours and will now take place on Friday March 5th.
City chairman Mark Guterman has failed to discuss tomorrows possible occupation of the Deva by David Pickering and has claimed he is close to selling the club.
"I'm negotiating with another consortium," said Mr Guterman. "I've had two serious offers and one semi-serious one."

25 August 1998

Once again the players haven't been paid today as promised by the chairman. It's now seven weeks since they were last paid. PFA spokesman Nick Richardson admitted that things got "a bit heated in the dressing room" and that "a lot of the lads were at the end of their tether" when news spread that the cheques hadn't arrived. Fortunately the PFA have stepped in again and assured all the players that all monies owing will be paid tomorrow. It's not clear though how the other staff will be affected.

This Thursday David Pickering and his consortium intend to occupy the Deva Stadium until chairman Mark Guterman proves that he still owns the majority shareholding in the club. And Pickering's proposed actions are in response to chairman Mark Guterman's failure to talk to the would-be buyers. Confusion has arisen since it was revealed that the parent company (owned by Guterman) that owned the majority shareholding Dovedene Ltd were struck off the companies register last November for non-compliance. The intention of the occupation is to bring these matters to a head, and to prove once and for all just where the majority of the shares now is. ISA spokesman Michael Fair said after last night's meeting when the plan was revealed: "Members gave their full support to the proposed actions of the consortium led by David Pickering for later this week. In the recent past, Mr Pickering has challenged Chester City chairman Mark Guterman to prove his majority share ownership in the club. To date he has failed to do so. Consequently the consortium will attempt to take control of the club on Thursday at 2pm when they will enter the club premises. This action will have the effect of either forcing Mr Guterman to finally provide proof of ownership or step aside and let the local business interests and the community and supporters to take control."

More than 200 attended a meeting of the Independent Supporters' Association last night. The current membership total now stands at over 330. ISA chairman Mark Howell said: "This was another tremendous response from City supporters. Many new members joined last night and it was clear from the meeting that members now feel better informed about the grave situation at the club. The fact that so many people have joined the association shows the true depth of feeling the fans have, not only for the future of the club but also the situation players currently find themselves in with little prospect of receiving their next pay packet.''
22 August 1998

Well done to Mike Fair and Mark Howell from the ISA who both spoke on Radio5's 606 programme tonight, highlighting the goings-on at the Deva, the formation of the ISA and the fighting fund started last week. There were also a couple of callers (including Mark again) on Baker and Kelly' s programme on Talk Radio, which also gave the address of this web site.

21 August 1998

Chester take on Mark Hateley's Hull City this Sunday (ko 3pm) looking for their first league win of the season. The match has been put back 24 hours as the Chester police can't cope with this and Chester races on the same day! Chester will expect to name an unchanged side from the one that held Port Vale to a 2-2 draw last Tuesday.

19 August 1998

A great night for City as Port Vale were held to a 2-2 draw at the Deva Stadium allowing City to go through 4-3 on aggregate following their win at Vale Park last week. I can't remember the last time we knocked out a team from two division's higher! The draw for the second round takes place on Wednesday 26th August at 10pm live on Sky TV. What was really encouraging was the fans response to the ISA Fighting Fund appeal. Around £1,150 was collected on the night in an effort to help the players through these troubled times. Last weeks wages were not paid and several players are financially having difficulty attending training sessions. ISA spokesman Michael Fair said: "We would like to thank all the City fans for backing this campaign, their response has been magnificent." The ISA were expecting to raise about £500 and say that the extra cash will be used as a reserve fund for the players.

14 August 1998
Radio Merseyside has reported that the players will not be getting paid tomorrow, and may not be getting any wages for another 10 days! As a result the players are currently refusing to train until they are paid their travelling expenses by chairman Guterman (and I don't blame them). The players have agreed though to fulfil their league and cup fixture commitments.

Striker Luke Beckett is expected to be out for 6-8 weeks after breaking a bone in his foot on Tuesday night. "He'll be out for two months," said a disappointed Kevin Ratcliffe. "He could be back sooner but we're thinking the worst. It's a bad blow for the lad because he's had a great start, two goals in two games. It's also a big blow for us. But these things happens, unfortunately they keep happening to us far too often. We've just got to get on with it."

This will mean a recall for Gary Bennett who replaced Beckett from the subs bench at Vale Park. It could just be the kind of challenge that Bennett will relish. Benno hasn't scored a first-team goal for the Blues since last November at Notts County. Winger Rod Thomas may also be included in the side who take on Brighton (at Gillingham) tomorrow. Thomas scored in a 1-0 win for the Reserves at home to Halifax in the week. "This was my first serious workout for three weeks and my knee felt fine," said Thomas. "It was good to get on the scoresheet as well."

Brighton skipper Gary Hobson is the Seagulls' only injury doubt. Hobson, an ever-present at the heart of the defence since January, hurt his back during Tuesday's Worthington Cup defeat at Northampton.
13 August 1998
Striker Luke Beckett went for x-ray's at Sheffield hospital last night after hobbling off in the 2-1 victory at Vale Park. The striker injured himself making a tackle in the first half and has a broken bone in the foot.

Full marks to Vale for dropping last night's entrance fee to £6.00, though they did charge a £4.00 car parking fee.

11 August 1998
Take in a visit to the cash point if you're travelling to Vale Park tonight. The cost of the seats in the Hamil Road away end (Under our old roof!) are £15.00, with concessions at £11.00. You'll find full details at the official Port Vale website. Travel details to Vale Park can be found here.

10 August 1998
Chester City's winding-up order due in the Manchester County Court today has been adjourned until Monday October 19th, no explanation has yet been given.

7 August 1998
Mark Guterman has stated that eight people are seriously interested in buying the football club. According to the chairman he has a number of "substantial" investors making serious enquiries. Guterman said: "There have obviously been timewasters but there are about seven or eight who are seriously interested. I know of two of them and others are represented by large legal firms which suggests they are serious investors."

He has hinted that a couple of names will be in the frame in the next few weeks, with a possible takeover shortly after – we all await this with interest.

Meanwhile David Pickering has stated that he is still to receive details of the club accounts he requested after replying to the chairman's advert placed in last Friday's Financial Times. Indeed, checking today with Companies House the accounts up to May 1997 have still not been lodged, and, according to the Compliance Section, Chester FC will once again be named in the London Gazette with the serious possibility that the company will be struck off from the companies register.
6 August 1998
Chester City Football Club face yet another winding-up order in the Manchester County Court on Monday August 10th. This has been actioned by the clubs solicitors Halliwell Landau. Chairman Mark Guterman states that the matter has been settled out of court and will be dismissed on Monday.

City kick-off the new season on Saturday with a home game against Leyton Orient. The only injury doubt at the moment surrounds Alex Smith who played 70 minutes at Leek without any ill effect from his recent ankle injury. Spencer Whelan is injured, but would have been suspended anyway and Shaun Reid's comeback has been delayed a month following his knee injury at Runcorn.

Meanwhile Mark Guterman has assured season ticket holders that their tickets WILL arrive prior to Saturday's match. He's blamed the delay in their distribution on the printers. Mark Howell, chairman of the newly-formed Independent Supporters Association, said: "The tickets are not coming until later in the week. Nobody has got tickets for the match. It is going to be absolute chaos with everyone trying to pick up their tickets." He added: "It's no surprise to us. It is very indicative of the state of the club at the moment internally. With just two staff in the office it is not surprising. These things happen and we don't think the financial situation at the club helps either."

The four members of the local consortium fronted by David Pickering have agreed to meet the Chester City ISA committee on Monday night. They will discuss, amongst other things, the meeting which took place between the chairman and fans last night, and, no doubt ways in which they can work together for the good of the club.

Mark Guterman met four supporters from the ISA committee at the Lord Daresbury hotel last night. Mark Howell, Sandra Povey, Chas Sumner and Bernie Curd had a two hour meeting with the chairman. Mr Guterman made it clear that he is resigned to selling his shares in the club and the the local consortium fronted by businessman David Pickering would have as much chance as any other interested party in gaining control of the club.

It was agreed that most of the meeting was to be 'off the record', but I hope to have more news, especially relating to the questions stated below, after the weekend.

5 August 1998
Last night's scheduled meeting between Mark Guterman and Mark Howell, the chairman of the Chester City Independent Supporters Association was postponed. It is believed the meeting may take place tonight. The ISA have come up with a number of questions for the chairman to answer and it is believed he will do so at the get-together. The questions posed are:
  • We are about half way through the five-year plan put in place by Mr Guterman upon his arrival. Where does he think we are in relation to his plan?
  • When the club took a reported £450,000 in transfer fees in April 1998, which enabled the chairman to put together a six-point action plan, how can the club still be in debt and have difficulty paying a water rates bill?
  • During the last fans' forum, Mr Guterman stated he would involve supporters in the future development of the club. Can he report any progress on this?
  • In last season's Scarborough programme, Mr Guterman stated he would be undertaking a "restructuring of the club to increase commercial business" during the summer. With the resignation of general manager Bill Wingrove and still no sign of a replacement only 10 days before the new season, can he tell us of his restructuring plans?
  • Since club secretary Derek Barber resigned last December, the shareholders among our members would like to know who has been the club (company) secretary?
  • If, as the chairman stated in the Press, nobody has approached him about helping the club, why was it as soon as the CCFC Ltd consortium went public about their aims that Mr Guterman revealed that he had been talking to other interested parties.
  • As soon as any news is available from the meeting you'll read it here first.
    4 August 1998
    Chester travel to Harrison Park tonight for their final pre-season friendly against Leek Town. Shaun Reid and Chris Priest may have a run out for City, both have been suffering from knocks. Alex Smith and Rod Thomas are both expected to resume training this week though won't be in contention for a Saturday recall.

    Chester have re-entered the Cheshire Senior Cup this season. In the first round they have been drawn away at Tranmere Rovers in the week beginning September 21st. The last time we entered the cup we actually won it, that was back in 1930/31 when Chester beat Crewe Alex 6-1.
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