CHESTER City Football Club’s big derby clash with Wrexham was cancelled after the Deva Stadium was forced to close.
Trading Standard officers yesterday served a prohibition notice on crisis-crippled Chester from opening their ground to spectators for the Blue Square Premier match.
The decision was taken in the interest of spectator safety after Cheshire West and Chester Council were informed there would be no policing providing inside the Deva because City could not afford to pay the police.
A Cheshire Police spokesperson said: “The cost of additional police officers required to police within the football ground are met by the football club.
“An annual statement of intent is in place outlining the agreement between Chester City Football Club and Cheshire Constabulary, as is a charging agreement outlining the terms for the request and supply of special police services. Both have been recently signed by Bob Gray of Chester City Football Club, and local police commander, Supt Phil Jones.
“The statement of intent agreed that the football club provide payment in advance for the policing requirements of all matches, and requires payment for the additional policing services to be received five days prior to the football match taking place. That deadline has now expired and no payment has been received from the club.
“Chester Police will therefore not be in a position to provide police officers to police within the football ground for the Chester versus Wrexham match.”
With no officers present to police the game, CWAC had no option other than to close the Deva.
Andrew Rees, team leader of investigations and complaints at CWAC Trading Standards, said: “With all the history attached to past meetings of such great rivals, playing the match without policing inside the ground would present an unacceptable risk.
“It is considered in these circumstances that spectator safety cannot be guaranteed and that there is a serious risk of injury or harm to spectators.”
A Football Conference official told The Chronicle yesterday the match will not be allowed to take place behind closed doors.
Chester, who have until March 10 to avoid being wound up by HM Revenue & Customs, are up for sale for just £1, on the condition the successful purchaser takes on all of the cash-strapped club’s debts.
City were unable to fulfil their Blue Square Premier fixture at Forest Green Rovers on Tuesday night because of a lack of players.
Supporters who have purchased tickets for the Chester versus Wrexham match are advised not to travel to the stadium as they will not be allowed to enter. They should make contact with the supplier of the tickets for advice on alternative arrangements or funds.