Blue Square Bet
Published 19th July 2012
But he admits that, because of the rapid rate at which the reborn club has progressed in its two years of existence, making the transition from semi-professional to professional status has to be in the thoughts of everyone at the Exacta Stadium.
Manager Neil Young is assembling a squad which he believes can challenge for a third successive promotion.
If the players can meet their ambitious manager’s goals then Chester will be lining up in the Blue Square Bet Premier in 2013/14, a division which, for the first time, would pit them against bigger clubs with far bigger resources. But would the Blues be able to compete if they stayed part-time? Or would they be happy to consolidate?
Cluskey said: “The board have a difficult choice to make as to how far the club wish to progress down the line and, likewise the supporters, as the board would have to make recommendations to the members I’d assume.
“It’s not like the old days where you could sit down with a chairman and say we need X amount of thousands of pounds to do this and he’d say there you go. We’re not in that situation so we’ve got to be very careful not to over-commit ourselves financially.
“Full-time has been mentioned and there was also mention of a part-time, full-time element.
“But it’s hard to put a timescale on as it’s something we’re constantly reviewing. We’ve had a couple of strategy days already, there’s another planned for next month.
“Full-time is not on the horizon, certainly for this season. But let’s say we have a cup run this year, amass a lot of money, and do get promoted, then it could be a different prospect.
“It is in everyone’s thoughts but we can only work to our income and it is the challenge of myself and the staff to increase that income.”
Unlike the last, wretched incarnation of Chester City FC, cup runs are not included in the Chester FC budget.
Cluskey and his small team are concentrating on tangible ways of increasing revenue streams – outside of City Fans United membership and the money generated on matchdays – in order to help the club go full-time if and when the board decides.
The Legends Lounge, along with the club shop and kiosks, has been totally refurbished and the feedback from a sponsors event during Tuesday’s friendly game against Southport was ‘99% positive’, with 50 of the 60 sponsorship packages for next season having sold out.
More events and conferences are to be held at the stadium but currently there are no plans to extend The Blues Bar due to the costs and returns involved.
The search for a new, training ground is also ongoing with two pieces of lands having been identified. In the meantime, the club would like to base itself at the Christleton High should the school’s proposal for an all-weather facility get the go-ahead.
More pressing for Cluskey is addressing the concerns of supporters who were disappointed by the variety and price of some of the food on offer inside and outside of the ground against Southport on Tuesday.
Cluskey said: “In reality we’re no different to players in that it’s pre-season and it’s our first game with a new catering company who won the tender to supply both the interior and exterior food outlets.
“I’m convinced there will be improvements and we will take on people’s views.”