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The Tribulations of Chester City

Chester fans request a boycott of the upcoming Friendly with Everton

Here is a history of Terry Smith (no relation!) and his destruction of a once proud football club.  Please note, this story may bring back unpleasant memories for Evertonians.  But don't worry, things were never this bad at Goodison.  So far as delivering on financial promises, respecting the views and opinions of the ordinary fan in the street, and pursuing tolerance and peaceful co-existence with the fans, Terry Smith makes Peter Johnson look like Jack Walker, Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi all rolled into one.  A banner spotted recently at Wrexham (who are, incidentally, in that way of amiable football rivalry best described as Chester's very own 'Red Sh**e') will bring back memories - 'Job Well Done, Agent Smith'.

  1. Before destroying CCFC, he ran Manchester Spartans, a Manchester based gridiron team.  Radio 5 Live did an expose about the occasion when he put up a team of ringers he had enlisted from the bars of Sheffield University ('6 foot 2 - you'll do') to pretend to be Munich (one of Europe's leading gridiron team).  His immortal words to the players was 'whatever you do don't remove your helmets'.  Some did, were spotted by friends in the stadium, and the scam was exposed.  His threats to sue the press never materialised. 
  2. He took over when Club was in Administration at the end of season in 1999.  He owns 98% of shares and appointed himself Chairman. 
  3. He promised at the time he would eventually hand over club to the fans and also that he would take the club to Division One within three years (to be fair, we could have misunderstood, and he may have meant Unibond Division One). 
  4. Within a few weeks, Kevin Ratcliffe (Manager) had left citing interference from Terry Smith, Followed shortly by David Fogg (Youth Team coach ex-Everton)
  5. Kevin Ratcliffe subsequently won a Tribunal decision ordering the club to pay him 200k.  This has been unpaid to date, as well as expenses still owed to Kevin, and as a result of which the League Managers Association have instructed solicitors on his behalf to issue a winding up notice.  
  6. Terry Smith assumed the role of Manager (no experience in football whatsoever):
  7. Refused to deliver ISA share issue offered to supporters despite the ISA raising over 140k.
  8. Did agree to have 3 supporter directors (All 3 were then virtually gagged and had no liaison with the supporters they were representing)
  9. Brought in many foreign players as promised but not the 'internationals'. 
    • Most were of poor standard and some never even made the subs bench. 
    • Some were ill treated (South African player who had to be found digs in the middle of the night by PC Evans.)
    • Only international on books was Angus Eve, Trinidad & Tobago striker.  But he preferred to loan him out to local T&T team to avoid cost of travel back and forth for World Cup qualifiers even though once T&T got through earlier stages they were content for UK based players to return to their clubs. Appeared as if Smith felt that retaining registration in case he turns out to be another Dwight Yorke, and thus raise a high transfer fee, whilst getting a local team to pay his wages was the best of both worlds. In the meanwhile the team missed out.
  10. Made Nick Richardson captain and then introduced a US style (and highly impractical in the flowing game of football) zonal captain scheme with captains in defence, midfield and forwards.
  11. Prepared US-style 7-page tactical dossiers which all the players had to read before each game. Lost all respect from players who felt he was on another planet.
  12. Made players pray before matches!!!
  13. Amusingly claimed in a press statement that he personally 'designed' the winning goal in the FA Trophy game against Southport (it was a standard short corner).
  14. Brought in Gordon Hill (an old friend).
  15. When we played Leyton Orient at HOME on 28 December, we were second from bottom of 3rd Division with 16 points, Leyton Orient were bottom with 14 points.  We lost 5-1 - and Terry finally gave in and appointed a 'proper' manager Ian Atkins.  (NB: Atkins was suggested by his directors.)
  16. We surrendered 69 years of League status when we were relegated on 6 May 2000 having lost at home to Peterborough when a draw would have saved us.
  17. Terry Smith gave no apology and said that "there are some good teams in the Conference" He blamed Ratcliffe and Atkins.
  18. Press and supporters lobbied for Smith to keep Ian Atkins as manager.  He expressed a desire to stay on and fight our way back in the League.  Terry Smith ducked and dived and never offered Atkins a contract. (It was rumoured he was jealous of Atkins' popularity.)
  19. Terry Smith appointed another fans' favourite Graham Barrow.  Barrow took the job on the understanding the Terry Smith would not interfere in first team matters.
  20. Allegedly assaulted Chief Safety Officer when he refused to turn down the sound system which he was playing - Chief SO was trying to give safety brief and could not make himself heard
  21. Terry Smith sacked Graham Vile (Youth Team coach). Gordon Hill put in charge but did not win one match (I think). Youth team ended up 00/01 season at foot of youth league.  On basis of this record Hill has now been appointed Director of Football with (according to what Terry Smith's father - Gerald - the sole director of the club - told me recently) the powers Terry as Chairman had in football matters, ie control.
  22. Terry Smith took over the music selection at matches
  23. Terry Smith took over the food shopping (and is seen in Aldi on many occasions)
  24. He washes his families washing at the club
  25. His office/car are disgracefully untidy.  Desk AND floor covered in mounds of paper. 
  26. No book-keeping records.
  27. Criticised by Football Conference for not hosting away team directors.
  28. The only accounts ever produced were 'management' accounts (ie, unaudited informal accounts any normal business could produce at end of any month) handed to the Conference just before their recent AGM following concerns raised by the Conference.  These accounts only ran to July 2000 - which begs question that if no management accounts since then how can he know what is the financial situation at the club?
  29. The club continue to receive regular visits from the FA's financial advisory unit in their determined search for anything resembling a record of accounts.
  30. Following FA visits, the Company Secretary resigned.
  31. Smith continually claims local press publish lies and continually threatens to sue but has not done so to date.
  32. In the days leading up to the launch of the Supporters Trust (formed by all five supporter groups), he demanded that the Trust agrees a price to buy the club from him before the Trust launch date or he else would never sell to the Trust.  It was explained to him that there were two problems with that demand: 
    • Firstly, he had always refused to provide any financial information concerning the club to enable a price to be assessed. 
    • Secondly until the launch there were neither members nor mandate to deal with him.
  33. On the night of the launch he went on TV to try to undermine support saying he was going to sell shares direct to the fans himself by turning the club into a Plc.  This has never, of course, happened.
  34. Told Graham Ross, Chair of Trust, on Brian Moore's TalkSport program (Inside the Boardroom) that he would sell shares to the Trust and would provide financial information and meet to discuss. Despite two letters and over 6 phone calls , no response has been received.
  35. On two occasions has banned Neil Turner, journalist /broadcaster with Post and Echo and Radio Merseyside and Channel One who has championed the cause of Chester City FC for many years.
  36. Proposed setting up a Democratic Supporters Association - conditions were unacceptable to all fans groups. 
  37. Banned Barrie Hipkiss (Chair of the Official Supporters Association and a much liked and respected man who spends masses of his own time unpaid in organising all away game coach trips) for speaking out against the DSA in the press (unusual interpretation of 'democracy'?)
  39. Both Chester Chronicle and Chester Evening Leader responded by banning Smith in a formal campaign - ie refusing to publish any more of his Press Statements.
  40. Later wrote a statement in the matchday programme claiming to be a confession by Jon Parker, commercial manager, for being responsible for banning Barrie Hipkiss (untrue - Jon wants to sue for the lie)
  41. Similarly wrote a Press Statement by prospective new owner Phil Davies that he had pulled out of the deal to buy Chester because of the abuse of the fans directed towards Smith (untrue according to Phil Davies)
  42. Failed to turn up to meetings with Phil Davies to hand over CCFC
  43. Announced, to much jubilation, in his programme notes for the final game of season that he wanted to have nothing more to do with Chester City, that he was walking away and that that was his last game at the Deva.  He then later announced that he was staying!
  44. Sacked Club captain and Assistant Manager Paul Beesley for 'standing in the wrong position at dead ball situations ' during the Canvey Island FAT semi-final, which we lost (sacking announced 2 weeks AFTER the match)
  45. Sacked Carl Ruffer and Wayne Brown for speaking out. Besley, Ruffer and Brown are the clubs leading and most popular players
  46. Reinstated all three on day of Tribunal hearing in a phone call. PFA still trying to establish a written retraction.
  47. The club is currently banned by the FA from buying new players because they have failed to pay Ilkeston Town 3,000 for buying a player who was sold on by Smith to Carlisle at the beginning of last season.  Smith's father told Graham Ross recently that this ban has been lifted, yet at a meeting at the FA last week, the ban was confirmed as still in effect.
  48. At last day of season, all club stewards came out on strike, to be talked back for that game only, but vowed never again to work for the club for so long as Smith is involved.
  49. Has not filed accounts at Companies House (none for over 4 years!)
  50. Has not paid many people who provide services for CCFC eg kit suppliers, accountant, programme printers.
  51. Changed the method of collection of gate receipts and personally handled them himself until a possible recent change.
  52. All cheques to players etc come out of a bank account that is not in the name of the limited company but under name 'Terence Michael Smith, Chester City FC' and thus under his personal control.
  53. Instead of selling the club, as promised, set up Gareth Evans ( no football experience but ex Stones Roses manager, who was sacked and sued by the band for ripping them off, and who has been famously referred to in print as 'off his tits' by no less an 'off tits' expert than Noel Gallagher) as Chief Executive
  54. Gareth Evans sacked Jonathon Parker. Told the players to report for Boot Camp training after the end of a hard season (none turned up).
  55. Sacked Joe Hinnigan, Physio and Graham Barrow right hand man and friend in June 2001.
  56. Appointed Gordon Hill as Director of Football in June 2001.  Made this appointment, and sacked Joe Hinnigan, whilst Graham Barrow was away on holiday and with knowledge that Graham Barrow does not talk to Hill.  Barrow not consulted.
  57. Buys and sells players without Graham Barrow's knowledge or agreement.
  58. Did not consult Graham Barrow over decision to play Everton.
  59. All supporter groups have resolved to campaign to deter all not to buy season tickets nor to go to home games.
  60. In a press statement to the Daily Post in May 2001, Smith stated that if Kevin Ratcliffe enforces by winding up notice his 200k debt that the club will fold as it is unable to pay that sort of money.  Since Smith failed in a court bid to overturn the Tribunal ruling awarding Ratcliffe the monies, this statement amounts to an admission that the company is insolvent.

According to Companies House files, Smith resigned from the Board last year without formal notice to the fans or the press.  He claimed to still be Chairman until a recent announcement that he was resigning as Chairman and would just be a 'worker' at the club.  

Latest (April 2001) Companies House documents show that all other directors have resigned save for Gerald Smith, his American based father.  Nevertheless, Terry Smith remains the 98% owner and, therefore, the situation raises grave concerns of corporate governance.  

Gerald Smith recently told Graham Ross that the Board was in fact now made up of Mark Smith, Terry's brother (originally a director but who resigned previously), Gareth Evans, Gerald Smith and a Ralph Myers, another American based individual who has worked with Gerald Smith on his various projects for 25 years.  Thus, there is no director with control of the shares, and only one UK based director, if Gerald's claim that Gareth Evans is on the Board is true, but even he has no ownership.  

The Company Secretary is a limited company whose directors are also owners of a mysterious new company called Chester City 2000 Ltd, based at the Deva Stadium, whose purpose is unknown and has never been explained.


In 2000, all five supporters groups were advised by Supporters Direct, an organisation set up by Government to assist the development of greater supporter ownership and influence, to form a Trust and, through it, to direct the raising of funds for the purchase of shares. The benefit of such wider ownership and accountability is substantial ranging from greater accountability to, and respect for the interest of, the fans and the wider community, co-operation, not conflict, with regulatory bodies, and access to grants better available to a 'community' club.

The Trust represents ownership, whether in whole or in part, by and for ALL fans including those not allied to any campaign or supporter group, and including those who may have drifted away in recent years, but whose support can be harnessed and who once again can be made to feel a true part of the club. The Trust was launched on the 30th November 2000, at a packed Town Hall. The meeting was chaired by the then Lord Mayor of Chester and there were supporting speeches from ex-players and written support from Ian R**h (offending word deleted in case anyone has set up an Evertonian Net Nanny), the Secretary of State Chris Smith MP and Christine Russell MP. In a letter read out Chris Smith, advised that by far the best way for fans to buy into the club is through investment in the Trust and he warned against fans seeking to acquire shares through other means.

As a marker of official concern over Smith, it was, on both occasions, the Supporters Trust, not Terry Smith, who were invited into meetings to discuss the future of Chester City FC on visits to Chester by the Secretary of State, Chris Smith MP and the then (but sadly now missed) Minister for Sport Kate Hoey MP.

The Trust have set up communications with the FA., The Football Conference, the PFA and the City Council to discuss ways out of the present situation.

The Supporters Trust and all other fan groups would like Everton to withdraw from playing at the Deva.  There is no problem with playing at Goodison so long as no funds go to CCFC Ltd.  It would be very much appreciated by all fans if Evertonians could consider not attending the game if played at Chester.

For Everton to withdraw would send a massive message to Smith that his style of running the club is not appreciated by the football community.  He is leading the club to destruction.  Further relegation beckons unless he goes soon.


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