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City's games ruled out

CHESTER City Football Club was last night banned from opening its ground to the public amid safety fears.

CHESTER City Football Club was last night banned from opening its ground to the public amid safety fears.

Trading standards chiefs served a prohibition notice at the Deva Stadium ground after the club failed to guarantee provision of the legal number of stewards required under safety laws.

The action, taken under the Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975, prevents the club opening the ground and throws the team's pre-season preparations into disarray.

The Nationwide Conference club now faces a race against time to solve the problems before the first day of the season.

A pre-season friendly against Everton has already been cancelled.

The opening match is against Woking at the Deva Stadium on August 18 but a string of further friendly games now face cancellation.

The notice was served after a meeting of the ground's joint safety committee which includes representatives from Cheshire police, fire brigade and ambulance services.

Cheshire's civil protection manager Martin Smith said: "We must emphasise that this action was taken with the greatest reluctance but regret that there was no alternative."

Chester City FC are due to play warm-up matches against Port Vale on July 28, Tranmere Rovers on July 31 and Manchester City on August 4.

Unless the necessary 34 stewards can be found to officiate at the 6,000 capacity stadium, these games are likely to be cancelled, though the club has the right of appeal against the notice.

Mr Smith added: "Under the 1975 Act the local authority is responsible for the licensing of sports grounds in the county.

"The safety of the public must always be paramount and it is in the interests of public safety that we have been forced to take this action.

"We are prepared to work with the club to help resolve this issue and will look at the matter again as soon as the club considers that it is in a position to fulfil its legal obligation with regard to crowd safety."

No-one from the club was available for comment.


David Holmes
Chief News Reporter
David Norbury
Mike Fuller
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