Headitorial: Issue 103

If you thought relegation last season was tough going then you can’t be enjoying this campaign thus far! To be honest it has been an unmitigated disaster that threatens to develop into a genuine crisis. Rumours abound of impending financial meltdown, fans don’t want to move to Gravesend and they most certainly don’t want Priestfield sold to pay off debts and then leased back leaving Gillingham Football Club minus their only tangible asset that has previously prevented us from going under.

The thoroughly miserable Gills support is divided over who to blame, some grumble about Cooper, many more about the pathetic goal-scoring record (the worst in the entire Coca-Cola League), the injury crisis continues apace and some of the remaining players are under performing but the fundamental problem now is the debt problem.

Paul Scally’s notes in the Yeovil programme certainly set alarm bells ringing when he wrote “I have had a particularly miserable few weeks, where I’ve been pulled from pillar to post by our bankers as I strive to write and re-write budgets and cash flows that meet their demands and allow us to trade the business.” What are we meant to make of that statement? How bad is the situation? Are we about to go into administration? Is Priestfield about to be sold? The omens aren’t good and fans that lived through 94-95 and receivership will be having a horrible hollow feeling of Déjà vu.

Back on the pitch and it is hardly better, at the time of writing we are second bottom, we’ve won one in ten in the League and have scored ten, yes count them and weep, ten goals. Aside from Byfield the rest of the “strikers” have made Mama Sidibe look prolific (something we thought mathematically impossible), and as a result we keep losing games to equally mediocre teams who are slightly more competent at putting the spherical object in the onion bag.

So where do we go from here? Well the clubs needs your support right now, you are entitled to moan, grown, even panic but we are stuck in a downward spiral of poor performances, lower quality players and dwindling support that has dragged the likes of Grimsby, Bury and Stockport down two levels in double quick time. If we are to avoid that fate (or possibly worse) then fans have to continue to back the management and the team (warts and all) and stop deluding themselves. We are deep in the brown smelly stuff and we need to rally to the cause.

This doesn’t mean we aren’t critical of the players, some of which have failed to perform to an acceptable standard, nor the management, some of the cheap signings haven’t come off and of course the big cheese himself. The bottom line is that Paul Scally has taken every major decision at Gillingham Football Club for over a decade. He has been the chief executive, the figurehead and the driving force. He might have lost out on the ITV Digital money, but that doesn’t explain or excuse our current predicament. Look at the money we’ve received from transfers over the last ten years, not to mention the share issue, two trips to Wembley, several cup runs, one full year of the legendary ITV Digital money, the highest prices in our history and steady crowds and yet we now find ourselves struggling to deal with debt interest repayments of £650,000 per year. Even the much-vaunted Blues Rock and Conferencing operation has been franchised out for a set fee to Compass.

We will follow developments closely but if Scally thinks he can simply sell off Priestfield and lease it back without the fans getting exceedingly annoyed he is in for a big surprise. It is at times like these that Gills fans really have to rally round. We did in 92-93 and 94-95, but until our true position becomes clearer we will remain stuck in limbo wandering what is going to go wrong next…

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