CHESTER City have been excluded from this season's LDV Vans Trophy, it was revealed this week.
The competition was orginally for clubs from the two lower divisions of the Football League, but now includes the seven teams who finished behind the Conference champions the previous season, as well as the club relegated from the League.
Chester were eligible to enter by finishing eighth last season, but the Deva Stadium's current 4,000 capacity, imposed because of safety fears following the boycott by stewards, rules them out.
Explained Conference chairman, Bill King, a Christleton-based City fan: 'The League insists on a 6,000 capacity for clubs to take part in the competition and at the moment Chester doesn¹t meet that standard.'
The capacity is, in fact, being reviewed and is likely to revert to its 5,814 limit by next month. This is still short of the League¹s requirement, as it was last season when Chester were still allowed to play in the competition.
This is another financial blow to the club's owner Terry Smith who has seen revenue nosedive this season as the fans' boycott continues to bite.
Less than 700 turned up for Tuesday's goalless draw against Stalybridge, although the pickets, along with their anti-Smith banners, appear to have gone.
The Trophy would have given them the chance to play a League club and the prospect of a derby match against the likes of Tranmere, Wrexham or Shrewsbury.
This could put even more pressure on the club to trim costs and it seems only a matter of time before players are sold.
A club statement this week suggested that unless attendances increased dramatically players would go and be replaced by 'low paid non-contract players'.
Top scorer Mark Beesley could be the first to leave. Tranmere Rovers are believed to be interested with speculation fuelled by the presence of Rovers' manager Dave Watson in the stands at a recent home game.
City's director of football, Gordon Hill, has admitted there are players in his squad who are unhappy and has pledged to let them go if a satisfactory deal could be struck.
For tomorrow's visit of Boston United, who lost top spot in the Conference with a surprise defeat at struggling Dover on Monday, Chester will be without Scott Ruscoe, who is suspended following his dismissal at Barnet.
Striker Chris Malkin had a recurrence of his groin injury during the reserves' 5-1 victory over Burscough on Wednesday and will not be considered.
But two of the goals were scored by former York City player David McNiven who has been training with City for a couple of weeks, and he could be signed in time to play tomorrow. The other goals came from David Linighan, the ex-Southport defender on trial at the Deva, Jimmy Haarhoff and Darren Wright.
* City are back in action on Tuesday when they visit bottom club Leigh RMI (7.45pm). A supporters' coach leaves Delamere Street at 5.30pm and costs £5.50. Bookings can still be made by phoning Barrie Hipkiss between 6pm and 8pm on 01244 379011.
* Chester have failed to switch the kick-off from 3pm to 1pm for the match against Margate on October 6 to avoid a clash with the televised World Cup match between England and Greece. The earlier time would have meant Margate travelling on Friday.
* Chester City Council's bid to seek a court injunction preventing Chester City holding unauthorised sales of cars and televisions at the Deva Stadium in an alleged breach of the lease's user clause, has been temporarily halted.
A hearing at the county court in Chester this week was adjourned for 28 days to allow time for the club to collect more details in defence of the application and a further seven days for the city council to reply.
In the meantime, the parties may meet to negotiate the relevant clauses in the Deva Stadium lease agreement.