BOBBY Williamson has said Blues fans may have to lower their expectations for the season in the wake of this month’s Deva Stadium exodus.
Since the transfer window opened on January 1, the Chester manager has shipped out seven members of his first-team squad and recruited just one – Hull City loanee John Welsh.
The departures were enforced on Williamson because City have had to reduce their wage bill to fall into line with the Football League’s salary cap rules.
The Blues boss, who has seen his team’s promotion challenge fade in recent weeks, knows he had no choice but to sell and yesterday he admitted that supporters “shouldn’t expect a huge influx of players coming in”.
He added: “My personal target has always been the same – to do as well as we can do. It hasn’t altered, we haven’t changed anything, but the fans’ expectations have got to change now because we haven’t got as many on board as we would have liked to keep the momentum going.
“Now the salary cap is coming round and we’ve got to adjust accordingly. The most important thing is that there is a Chester City Football Club and we stay in this division. We don’t want to be relegated, that’s for sure.
“We want to be competing. We want to put a team on the park that can entertain the fans, but unfortunately we’ve got to lose decent players now because of the salary capping.”
The majority of the players sold have not been involved regularly in Chester’s first team this season, but their departures come at a time when injuries and suspensions are biting hard into City’s squad – meaning Williamson has had to put his faith in the club’s emerging youth team stars.
After offloading Ashley Westwood, Simon Yeo and Dean Bennett last week, the Blues have said goodbye to four more players this week. Goalkeeper Gavin Ward and defender Phil Bolland have joined Wrexham, young centre-back Rob Marsh-Evans has signed for Leigh RMI and utility man Sean Hessey has extended his loan spell with Macclesfield Town.
Keeper Phil Palethorpe has been recalled from his loan stay with Tamworth to provide back-up to John Danby following Ward’s departure.
Williamson is refusing to rule out the possibility of new players coming in, but he isn’t making any promises.
He said: “Who knows, if players go out we could bring players in. You can never say never.”
Chester spent heavily on new players last summer but have been forced to make cutbacks this month after their financial projections fell short.
Blues managing director Bob Gray explained: “Sadly, despite much effort by the club to develop revenue streams, the projections have not come to fruition. With it comes the need to reduce our overall wage bill and, as the rules say, this must be relative to top line sales.”