BELEAGURED Chester face new financial problems as they desperately try to fulfil fixtures.
They are going to have to pay at least three times more per game for stewards than last season and can expect a similar bill from the police.
The club won a reprieve from the safety authorities by having the Deva Stadium re-opened to the public after being told told they would have to
play matches behind closed doors because of a shortage of stewards.
After signing up a professional security company from Manchester the club satisfied the requirements of the safety certificate, although the ground capacity has, for the time being at least, been halved to 3,000.
Chester host Port Vale in a friendly match tomorrow (3pm), but fans have threatened a boycott and there could be more visitors from the Potteries than home supporters. No information about admission prices has been released.
The security company, which has provided stewards for Manchester United, will not come cheap. It is estimated the bill will be at least £1,200 a game compared to about £400 last season. The police are also expected to invoice the club for a similar amount, insisting on maintaining a presence, despite the anticipated low attendances at the Deva.
Chester beat Connah's Quay 3-0 on Thursday last week, but the occasion was marred by a group of City fans verbally abusing director of football Gordon Hill. The police were called and there are fears there could be more trouble at forthcoming matches at the Deva.
City won 5-1 against a Bury XI behind closed doors on Monday with goals by Chris Malkin (2), Martyn Lancaster, Mark Beasley and Steve Whitehall, but they have lost scheduled public friendlies against Everton and Tranmere who pulled out because of security worries.
The match against Manchester City tomorrow week is still on, but Chester may be forced to reject an offer from the First Division club to send its first team because of the problems arising from the reduced ground capacity.
Meanwhile, the club continues to leak players. Three more have left - Darren Moss has rejoined his former boss Kevin Ratcliffe at Shrewsbury, Matt Doughty has gone to Rochdale and Paul Carden has joined Doncaster Rovers for a reported fee of £15,000.
Steve Whitehall is thought to be attracting the interest of Macclesfield and keeper Wayne Brown is still being linked with Oxford United.
Darren Wright has submitted a transfer request, while defender Carl Ruffer is believed to be considering a fresh offer to stay with the club. Promising youngster Chris Blackburn is currently having a trial with Manchester City.
Graham Barrow, sacked by Chester recently, has turned down the manager's job at Northwich Vics. He is interested in the vacant post at Carlisle United.