THE battle to restore football to the Deva Stadium is a straight fight between Blues fans and the Danes.
Cheshire West and Chester Council last night revealed it had received two detailed expressions of interest from parties wishing to use the vacant Bumpers Lane ground.
One is from the City Fans United supporters group, which has 1,500 members, and the other is from the Danish consortium that was in negotiations to buy the now-defunct Chester City FC.
The council will consider both bids next Thursday (April 29) – before handing the keys to the Deva over to the successful applicant by the end of the month.
Steve Robinson, chief executive of the council, said: “I anticipate a decision on the successful bidder would be made by the end of the month to meet the FA’s registration deadline, believed to be in the second week of May.
“Business cases are being analysed and a report will be presented to the meeting.
“We are looking for a sound, sustainable business case with a vital community involvement which will ensure the future of league football in Chester.
“Obviously there may be some follow-up enquiries but weŠ are aiming to make a decision in good time for the successful applicant to make the registration date.”
CFU has made it perfectly clear it plans to have its fan-owned, reformed Chester FC team playing at the Deva come August.
CFU chairman Chris Pilsbury said: “We appreciate that the council is trying to ensure that, both for the future of the Deva Stadium and for the future of football in Chester, the right group gets the lease. The council is going exactly the right way about it and CFU fully support its approach.
“While we wait for their decision there is still a lot of work going on behind the scenes and, if we get the lease, everything will fall into place nicely and Chester fans will be absolutely made up with what we’re doing.”
The long-term aims of the Danish group, Fodbold Selskabet, are less clear. Little is known about their background but they issued a short statement to The Chronicle last night.
It read: “We believe that our bid offers the best possible foundation for a successful and continuous operation of a football club in Chester – a bid that will be advantageous to the club, the large amount of fans and the local businesses in Chester.”
The council, as owners of the Deva, will be represented at next Thursday’s meeting by council leader Mike Jones, Mr Robinson and Cllr Richard Short, executive member for culture.
They will be joined on a panel by two independent senior local businessmen and an advisor with experience of establishing a ‘phoenix club’.
The inaugural CFU Darts Open, held at the Cottage Inn on Brook Street, Chester on Saturday, raised £500 for the supporters’ group ‘war chest’ – £100 of which will go towards their Junior Blues section.
Chester City Ladies lost the Cheshire FA Women’s Cup Final 2-0 to Stockport County Ladies on Sunday.
Sir Bobby Charlton has been taking a keen interest in the quest to keep a senior football team in Chester. The Manchester United and England legend spoke to Blues heroes Gary Talbot and Alan Tarbuck at a function in Liverpool last Thursday.
Sir Bobby was the main speaker at the European Former Players’ Association annual congress, which Gary and Alan were attending on behalf of Chester’s former players’ association.
Among the other key figures present at Liverpool’s Hilton Hotel were European FPA president Ramon Alfonseda, PFA boss Gordon Taylor and Wigan Athletic chairman Dave Whelan.
Gary, a Sealand Road goalscoring favourite from the 1960s, said: “The reception we got was fantastic.
“I spoke to Ramon Alfonseda, who is from FC Barcelona, and the first thing he said was ‘I’ve been to Chester, how are things going?’ Obviously I told him all about what has been happening.
“Sir Bobby Charlton was asking about Chester too. I told him about the situation and he’s very keen for Chester to succeed.”
Gary and Alan spent the night mingling with former players representing a host of clubs from across Europe.
The pair were in a unique position as the club they once played for no longer exists – although both are fully behind the bid by City Fans United to restore football to the Deva Stadium next season.