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Page last updated at 17:38 GMT, Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Chester City squad refuse to play at Forest Green

Chester City

Chester's trip to Forest Green on Tuesday was called off at late notice after the cash-strapped club's players refused to get on the team bus.

The game was postponed at 1711 GMT, two and a half hours before kick-off, after Forest Green received a call saying that City could not fulfil the fixture.

"Negotiations had been going on all day," revealed former managing director Rob Gray, who is still at the club.

"But, in the end, we'd no option but to say we could not fulfil the fixture."

Crisis club Chester's players had gone unpaid for three months until receiving a week's salary prior to last weekend's home defeat by Ebbsfleet.

But, having twice threatened strike action already this season (only for the targeted games to be called off on each occasion due to the weather), the players finally appear to have had enough.

The players have obviously been unhappy about not being paid

Former Chester managing director Rob Gray

Chester's gates, already massively reduced following relegation last season, have slumped even further following a boycott led by disillusioned Chester fans, unhappy with the running of the now seemingly doomed club.

By comparison with last season's average gate of 1,972, Chester have attracted less than 500 to both their last two home league games.

"To get only 450 here doesn't even cover the overheads," Gray told BBC Sport. "The fans' boycott has finally taken its toll.

"I'm not sure it's the right way to go about things. But the players have obviously been unhappy about not being paid."

Chester were already down to only nine senior players, having lost top scorer Nick Chadwick and midfielders Anthony Barry and James Owen in the last month.


And defenders Rhys Meynell, a target for Kidderminster Harriers, and Kevin Roberts, reportedly pursued by Cambridge United, have both served a two-week notice to terminate their contracts.

A statement on Forest Green Rovers' website read: "Due to circumstances beyond our control, the club was notified at 5.11pm that this evening's Blue Square Premier fixture against Chester City has been called off.

"The club are taking steps to liaise with all our usual media contacts to notify them of the circumstances, however we would like to take this opportunity to apologise to all our sponsors and supporters for the late cancellation."

Chester now face the likelihood of a renewed date with Blue Square Premier officials, who were already keen to talk to them over their parlous financial situation.

They are also due back in the High Court in London next month, on 10 March, as they face being wound up over an unpaid £25,025 tax bill.

And, although the Conference are understood to have so far been keen for Chester to somehow limp through the rest of the season, to avoid obvious complications affecting the other 23 Blue Square Premier clubs, City's fans have already effectively written their team off.

We believe that the financial requirements are such that any potential investor will be put off from taking over the club

City Fans United statement

The club's main supporters body, City Fans United, said in a statement: "We believe that the financial requirements are such that any potential investor will be put off from taking over the club.

"In outpricing any potential owners, the intentions of those currently in charge of the club confirm that the best interests of the club are clearly not held at heart, and until their own debt is written off, the club will cease to exist.

"It is because of this threatening scenario that City Fans United continue to plan for both the continuation of the club, but also the idea of a phoenix club.

"CFU committee members have been encouraged by field trips to Telford and FC United of Manchester, which have shown that not only is a phoenix club viable at our level, it can also facilitate community participation to create a proud asset for our city."

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see also
Forest Green to seek compensation
10 Feb 10 |  Forest Green
Chester still face league meeting
01 Feb 10 |  Chester
Chester handed 42-day adjournment
27 Jan 10 |  Chester
Chester City up for sale for 1
26 Jan 10 |  Chester
Chester hit by Conference charge
12 Feb 10 |  Chester
Chester to face winding-up order
18 Jan 10 |  Chester
Chester players threaten strike
15 Dec 09 |  Chester
Chester-Eastbourne game abandoned
28 Nov 09 |  Non League

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