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Gillingham Football Club chairman Paul Scally reacts to protests at Priestfield during Sunderland match but says he's going nowhere


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Gillingham Football Club are to issue temporary bans to supporters that are under investigation over trouble at Priestfield on Saturday.

There were protests throughout the match against Sunderland and one fan was arrested after trouble inside the club’s Factory bar at half-time.

Gillingham chairman Paul Scally reacts to protests over his running of the club
Gillingham chairman Paul Scally reacts to protests over his running of the club

The Gills chairman reacted to those protesting at his running of the club, describing it as “organised thuggery”.

Kent Police has confirmed officers attended to “a disturbance involving a group of people” in the Factory bar.

A spokesman for the force said: “During the incident, a man is said to have verbally abused and pushed a woman.

“No injuries were reported and a 23-year-old man from Faversham was arrested on suspicion of assault and a public order offence.

“He has since been released from custody and inquiries remain ongoing.”

Police were called to the Factory bar on Saturday
Police were called to the Factory bar on Saturday

A plane flew over Priestfield several times during the first half of the match, pulling a banner which read, “Time For Change Scally Out.”

There were anti-Scally chants coming from the Rainham End and more inside the stadium bar.

The club asked the police to attend the Factory at half-time, with a number of officers entering the premises.

Mr Scally spoke of his upset at the disorder, saying: “This was organised thuggery to the extent that these people only came to the stadium for trouble.

“They came here with the intent of disrupting people’s enjoyment of the game.

There were anti-Scally chants coming from the Rainham End of the stadium and more inside the stadium bar. Picture: Keith Gillard
There were anti-Scally chants coming from the Rainham End of the stadium and more inside the stadium bar. Picture: Keith Gillard

"They were behaving worse than animals in some instances and those that were and that we could were ejected from the ground. They upset a huge number of true supporters...including players and of course the staff. I saw women and children crying.”

There was a meeting at the club on Monday where individuals were identified and details passed to the police for investigating. He claimed stewards were attacked during the trouble.

Mr Scally said: “Some of the abuse was unacceptable, disgusting and vile, adjectives can’t describe how bad I feel about it.”

The club chairman said he won’t quit and that if he did, administration was likely, as there was “no natural leadership that could take over” the running of the club.

Mr Scally said the club was stable, considering the challenges from the Covid lockdowns, and they had a budget that ranked them 16th in a division of 24 clubs.

"They were behaving worse than animals in some instances and those that were and that we could were ejected from the ground..."

He said: “For me to walk out of the club is not going to happen. I haven’t stayed here to keep the club going for so long, particularly the last 18 months, just to walk out and leave everyone in limbo.

“Without any shadow of a doubt the club would go into administration quickly I suspect, without any leadership.

“Last time I opened my door there weren’t a whole host of investors down Redfern Avenue looking to invest.”

Mr Scally has offered to meet anyone, in person, before they are banned from the club permanently.

He said: “We have numbers, names, addresses and we and the police are looking into (that).

Mr Scally said the club had names, addresses of the people the police are looking into
Mr Scally said the club had names, addresses of the people the police are looking into

"We will be issuing temporary suspension notices to those individuals with immediate affect, they won't be allowed back into Priestfield while enquires are ongoing.

"Those that we will be looking to permanently exclude I will give them the opportunity to come and talk to me before we do so.”

The chairman also said he hasn’t had any offers to buy the club “from anyone credible”, adding: “There are always people, from around the world, probably one a week. They go through a procedure and most of the time they fail on proof of funds.

“There are many fantasisers and wannabes out there and some trying to shift money where they shouldn't be. There has been genuine interest lately, good people, people I would trust, but it is at the early stages.”

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