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Council urged to play its part

THE Chester City Supporters' Trust leader has taken the city council to task for its 'neutral stance' over the club's current crisis.

THE Chester City Supporters' Trust leader has taken the city council to task for its 'neutral stance' over the club's current crisis.

Neston solicitor Graham Ross has refused to accept the statement made in last week's Chronicle by Cliff Mallows, the council's head of property and project management services, that the council was not in a position to force changes supporters wanted to make at the club.

Mr Mallows was replying to a letter from a supporter concerned about 'rumours of alleged breaches of the Deva Stadium lease' urging the council, the football club's landlords, to 'exercise its moral obligations to the people of Chester.'

Said Mr Ross: 'The stadium lease, of which I have a copy, is a tough one drawn up precisely to ensure the council had the sort of leverage and influence the present emergency situation requires.

'For the council not to use its powers, but to stand back and allow events to overtake it, increases the risk the club will cease to exist.'

In a 1,900-word statement he listed a number of possible areas of breaches of the lease and claimed the council had no reason to treat the lease as confidential.

'I would agree with confidentiality so far as private, council-let homes are concerned, but not when dealing with land let specifically for the purposes involving the admission of the public for community purposes.'

He added: The city council are key players in helping to direct the future of Chester City FC and I urge them to now fully play the role it willingly took on when the stadium was built.'

The council refused to budge on this issue this week, insisting it didn't have the power to directly bring about changes and still refused to publicly discuss lease agreements.

'This would be unfair, as the council treats all its tenants the same in keeping details of lease agreements confidential,' said a spokesman.

Chester, meanwhile, get a reminder of happier days tomorrow when they travel to North London to meet the latest Nationwide League drop-outs, Barnet.

While City were the team all the other Conference sides wanted to beat last season, it's newcomers Barnet's turn to come under pressure now with Chester looking for a hat-trick of victories.

It will be the second long trip in a week for Gordon Hill's men, but City's director of football is looking forward to it ­ it gives him another chance to meet up with his London-based family and friends.

But Hill is not without his problems. He is waiting for a fitness report on central defender Carl Ruffer, who damaged a foot in the 3-1 win at Hayes last Saturday and missed Monday's 1-0 victory against Nuneaton Borough. He is considered doubtful, so Dean Spink, now officially Gordon Hill's assistant, is set to continue at the back.

Said Hill: 'Having lost the first two matches things have turned around very quickly with two wins on the trot, but it is a case of taking one match at a time.

'The Hayes and Nuneaton victories are now history and we must concentrate on the next match at Barnet. Everyone is confident, but there is no magic wand.'

City are back at the Deva Stadium on Tuesday when Telford are the visitors (7.45pm).

* Chester won 3-0 at Guiseley on Wednesday in an FA Youth Cup preliminary round match with goals by Tommy Leonard, Tom Coulson anf Adam Hunter. The Youth Alliance team had James Dean sent off in a 4-0 defeat at Port Vale on Saturday.

* The supporters' coach to Barnet tomorrow has been cancelled because of lack of interest, but bookings are being taken for the trip to Farnborough tomorrow week. The scheduled departure time is 8.30am and the fare is £15.

Phone Barrie Hipkiss between 6pm and 8pm on 01244 379011 to book.


David Holmes
Chief News Reporter
David Norbury
Mike Fuller
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