Charlie Lambert, Blues fan and broadcaster, tells The Chronicle why Chester City must not be allowed to change their name
BEING a Chester City supporter right now is like being caught up in a car crash. Twisted metal everywhere and you're not sure how long you'll remain among the casualties.
The chairman has lost his rag with the council, the council hasn't done enough to help the chairman, the season lost interest weeks ago, and many punters are voting with their feet. It's an explosive cocktail, but the trouble is the shrapnel is raining down on those who least deserve it - those fans who still dig into their pockets.
They don't deserve to have yet another totally avoidable controversy inflicted on them.
Stephen Vaughan's desire to change the name to Chester Halton or some other inappropriate hybrid makes no sense whatsoever. OK, he's fed up with the council. How will incorporating the name of a rival council help? Sooner or later he has to do business with Chester City Council.
Yes, attendances are poor. How will Chester Halton help? Will coach loads of folk with funny-shaped balls from Widnes, Runcorn and Ditton start clamouring for admission to the Saunders Honda Stadium? No way.
Given Stephen's links with Halton-based Widnes Vikings RLFC, it is inevitable that people will see this as the first step towards relocating the football club to Widnes. Conspiracy theory? Of course. Just because there's a theory doesn't mean there's no conspiracy. Stephen assures us such talk is laughable. Good to hear - but he can't possibly be surprised that people think Chester Halton is a step too close to Chester IN Halton.
If you have marketing difficulties, you have two choices - change the brand or change the product. Marathon bars became Snickers and everyone loved them. The product itself was fine and the branding brought in new customers. Chester City don't need a change of brand - an entire generation has grown up knowing the club as Chester.
City FC, and those of us longer in the tooth knew it affectionately as City long before the simple Chester FC name was formally changed. It's the product that needs changing.
Win your home games, play entertaining football, and spectators will come. Chester's home supporters have seen neither for too long this season. Change the name to Real Madrid or the Harlem Globetrotters and it will make no difference if the team manages only one win and five goals in all home fixtures since mid-December.
We support Chester City because this is where we live, or where we were from originally. We don't want our club to be given a phoney new identity like someone on a witness protection scheme.
At the heart of all this, the chairman makes one good point. The fact that he is apparently prevented from using the stadium to stage any money-making events other than football is an absurd restriction. It is illogical, unhelpful and unfair. The council should use their good offices to address this. They should do so in an urgent and constructive manner because professional football in their city is suffering.