Gillingham F.C. are precariously close to the cellar of League Two, and while their success over the past decade, “was unprecedented in the club’s existence”, admits When Saturday Comes’ Chris Lynham, chairman Paul Scally deserves considerable scorn for their recent slide.
The club’s once-in-our-history position at the turn of the century was largely achieved by Scally’s drive, commitment, bottle, inspiration “ call it what you like. Many others played important roles but he was at the helm and he took the plaudits. This status has since been frittered away and Scally (above) has overseen the mess. He admitted in his recent programme notes that in terms of divisional status the club has come full circle under his reign and that could be interpreted as a failure. The club is undoubtedly bigger than in 1995, with vastly improved facilities and a more substantial fanbase of season-ticket holders.
Scally rightly points out that there were no willing takers when he invested his £1 to take the club out of administration, and that he’ll be gone as soon as a suitable buyer announces itself. Yet he chooses to gloss over the soaring debt of around £12 million run up during his tenure, which has been reduced to a more manageable level by the sale of the stadium to Priestfield Developments Ltd, wholly owned by Paul Scally. He asked that any flak should be directed at him rather than the team and management, yet when that flak became audible above 2,500 Dover fans cavorting in the away end, he reacted in a traditionally defensive and childish manner. He’s in a no-lose position financially due to the ground ownership, yet he still polarises the supporters “ a more united and radical following than Gillingham’s would surely have held him accountable.
Indeed, during previous attempts by an earlier generation of Gills fans to hold Scally accountable, the chairman proved equally defensive.