JOHN Batchelor has put York City on the map. His rescue of the club was the save of the season. Since then, he has been fizzing with ideas, from an ITV Digital rescue package to a new kit for the Minstermen. Only weeks into the job he has become one of the Football League's best-known chairmen.

This is good for the club and good for the city. To suggest Mr Batchelor has been a breath of fresh air is to underplay his impact: his whirlwind start registered on the Beaufort scale.

York City needs dynamic leadership to survive and thrive. But it is crucial that the club's foundations, which have seen it through 80 tumultuous years, are not swept away by the winds of change.

These foundations are built deep into the York community, and are anchored in the loyal fan base.

Mr Batchelor knows that York City cannot live on its past. Yet he must also recognise the club is nothing without tradition. It belongs to an historic league and has drawn support from generations of York families.

Football is more than a game or a business; it is a passion. In that context, to change City into a "soccer" club is far more than mere semantics. It meddles with the club's essence.

Football fans recoil from the name soccer. It is a term associated with the United States, one of the few countries in the world to have misunderstood the beautiful game.

Mr Batchelor's dream to turn the team into York City Soccer Club suggests a similar misunderstanding. The change might help him promote the club in America, but it would anger and upset his core market: City fans.

The new chairman is steaming ahead on a huge sea of goodwill from the supporters. But he should be aware how quickly that can drain away.

If he is to realise his vision, he must take the fans with him. That means dropping the soccer reference and paying as much attention to developing the team as to developing the brand.

Updated: 10:22 Monday, May 20, 2002