Football: That was the weekend that was - Chester's bonus scheme fiasco

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The Independent Online
JUST AS Nicolas Anelka's brothers were revealing that the former Arsenal striker turned down a Juventus package worth pounds 107,000 per week to join Real Madrid, the backcloth to Chester City's opening match against Barnet illustrated life at the other end of soccer's financial spectrum.

The Third Division club are facing a players' revolt over plans to revise their bonus scheme. Players negotiating new contracts are being asked to accept the scrapping of signing-on contracts and appearance money in favour of a bonus scheme linked to winning and promotion.

This might make sense to some - Chester's chairman, Terry Smith, included - that footballers should be required to achieve something in return for extra payments, something beyond simply turning up.

But this is not how the players see it. "They are taking away our bread and butter," was the reported comment of one last week. Meanwhile, the striker Luke Beckett has asked for a transfer, claiming to have become "disillusioned with the way the club is being run."

Chester's manager, Kevin Ratcliffe, appears less than happy. Asked if any other signings were on the cards, he replied that he did not know.

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