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Gillingham chairman Paul Scally says managing expectations in the lower leagues is difficult

By Luke Cawdell

Meeting fans’ expectations is a tough challenge admits Gillingham’s globe-trotting chairman Paul Scally.

Mr Scally, who was at the home of Athletic Bilbao this week in a bid to forge links with the Spanish club, has been scouring the world for new investment in a bid to breath fresh life into the Gills.

While no major backer has so far been found, the Gills have had to battle it out in the lower leagues with the limited resources at their disposal.

Paul Scally watches a match at Priestfield Picture: Ady Kerry
Paul Scally watches a match at Priestfield Picture: Ady Kerry

Following another challenging season, which led to manager Steve Lovell’s exit, Mr Scally said: “Managing aspirations in the lower leagues is very difficult right now.

“That’s the reason we have travelled the length and breadth of the world, looking for investors, talking to people who might be able to come and help.

“It’s why I believe the future of this football club is in a new multi-use stadium, a stadium where we can have facilities to generate income without the need for benefactors.

“There aren’t that many benefactors about who are the right fit for this particular football club.

“But none the less we keep trying. In the meantime we carry on working as we do, on and off the field.”

There have been a number of recent cases of teams struggling to pay players, including Bolton Wanderers, who on Monday were placed into administration and will start life back in League 1 with a 12-point deduction.

League 2 Bury had similar issues with late payments to players but at the top end of the pyramid, teams continue to spend big in pursuit of success.

Mr Scally said: “We hear stories of the Premier League spending £265million on football agents, let alone wages and transfers and everything else.

“We hear Premier League supporters phoning into chat stations talking about that their club has only spent £70m, £80m or £100m on transfers in the summer and this is the same type of business that we’re in.

“We play the same game, we have the same fans and aspirations."

The Gillingham chairman’s trip to Bilbao was to meet the club president Aitor Elizegi at their San Memes Stadium and the visit comes as links with French side Lille OSC have been strengthened in recent weeks.

Meanwhile, there is still no word on a successor to Lovell, who was relieved of his managerial duties two games before the end of the season.

Former Leeds and Rotherham boss Steve Evans remains in the frame, as does his long-term assistant Paul Raynor. The Gills would, however, have to negotiate a deal to free Evans from his financial ties to Peterborough. He was sacked by Gills’ League 1 rivals in January.

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