Political Economy of Football
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Gills Up For Sale - 14/09/2006

Paul Scally has said that he will step down as Gillingham chairman if a suitable investor makes an approach. Scally, who has been in charge since 1995, was unhappy at being booed by fans after the struggling League 1 club was defeated by Scunthrope. If someone does take over, they will need deep pockets as the clubs's overdraft is said to be in the region of 10.5m with annual interest repayments of 700,000.

Scally took over the club from Tony and Val Smith who agreed to write off a million pounds of their own money and loaned the club 750,000 interest free for five years. Initially under Scally's leadership the club had considerable success, being promoted to the second tier of English football for the first time in its history. The ground needed improving, but the Medway Stand is thought to have cost around 9m rather than the projected 3m. This has been more of a problem for the club than the ITV Digital collapse, although critics argue that money was spent before it was there. The facilities in the Medway Stand were supposed to bring in big revenue streams to be invested in players, but this hasn't worked. In an effort to save costs the whole catering and conferencing side of the business was sold off to Compass for 400,000 a year.

Following a meeting with the club's bank earlier this week, Paul Scally stated, 'I had a positive meeting with the bank and they are still very supportive of me. I don't know why supporters are talking about administration because that's absolute nonsense.' Anyway, it looks like someone else will be in charge by Christmas. This shows that even the most unpromising club can attract buyers. Charlton has been cutting into Gillingham's potential Kent market with their subsidised Valley Express service.


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