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Scally speaks out over ground speculation

By Luke Cawdell

Paul Scally

Gills chairman Paul Scally

by Danny Boyle

Gillingham Football Club chairman Paul Scally has spoken out amid growing speculation about the club's proposed purchase of Priestfield Stadium.

He urged anxious supporters to trust him after they were left baffled by a special resolution calling on shareholders to back the sale.

Mr Scally's own company Priestfield Developments wants to sell the stadium for £1,050,000 - just three years after it bought the ground for nearly £10m.

Fans fear the deal could jeopardise the club's finances and speculation is rife that a private investor could be helping the Gills or the move might be ahead of a bid to sell the club.

But, after a storm of debate on our website, Mr Scally posted: "I would ask supporters to trust me in that what I am doing is very much in the interests of Gillingham Football Club.

"I am not selling the club, nor positioning it for a sale, nor have I found a Middle East sheikh, but I am positioning it to go forward in a positive and exciting way, with staff who are very focused on the big job in hand and who are also looking forward to the challenges ahead.

"I accept some fans are concerned and some are behaving quite pathetically, judging by the nature of some of these postings, but I have never baulked the challenges at Priestfield, have always acted in the best interests of the club, have been working tirelessly for nearly five years to bring this deal home and will continue to do so for the benefit of the vast majority of good fans who appreciate and understand what I do.

"Look forward to meeting shareholders on 5th August. Up the Gills."

However, Mr Scally declined to shed light on the proposed transaction, announced in a letter to shareholders.

In a statement released by the club, he said: "There is nothing in this to concern our fans, but the time for explanations is actually at the company's annual meeting, when the shareholders will have the opportunity to ask questions."

Click here to read yesterday's report on the ground purchase

The annual meeting will be held on August 5.

Mr Scally owns Priestfield Developments, which bought the ground in 2008 as part of a restructuring deal to ease the club's debt burden.

The ground was rented back to the club for an apparently nominal sum.

The purchase was funded by a £10m loan from the Bank of Scotland which, according to the latest accounts, holds a charge over the property.

The company would not be able to sell the ground without the bank's agreement.

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