Published: 22:00, 14 September 2021
| Updated: 08:24, 15 September 2021
Gillingham chairman Paul Scally says he’s going after those who he claims are damaging the business with their ‘defamatory and derogatory’ abuse.
Mr Scally believes the comments against him - mainly on social media - have over-stepped the mark and that his own family have stopped attending games because they are fed up with the personal attacks.
There have been “Scally Out” chants from supporters during the last two games, at Shrewsbury and Burton Albion, while some have used social media to criticise his running of the club. Mr Scally says enough is enough.
In 2019 he threatened to quit because of criticism and during his latest ‘Chairman’s chat’ feature with the club, he said he would be taking action against those who have spread lies about him.
Mr Scally said: “I don’t have time to correct all the wrongs and the false accusations. I was stunned at Shrewsbury when at 1-0 up there was a small section of supporters singing ‘we want Scally out'. Personally it is unpleasant, it is hurtful, it is not necessary, it is unfair and unreasonable and I suspect I know who started it.
“There are the same few agitators who have this hate campaign against me which has been going for some time. In the past I have tended to not address it, to ignore it, focus on the business, do what I do best, but there is no doubt after looking at some of the comments they are actually defamatory and derogatory, they are libellous and they are untrue. They are damaging to me, to my family and friends and to the business.
“One of our major sponsors at the Shrewsbury game was very distressed.
“There are two or three people who are seriously antagonising myself and the club and they are undermining the performance of the business and that is when it becomes a problem for me.
“I can’t ignore these people any longer and I don't intend to. I have no problem with freedom of speech, with opinion, with banter, I have done the same for 30-40 years, but I do have a problem with personal defamation, with abuse, personal abuse.
“My children won’t come to football anymore because they are so upset with some of the stuff they see on social media and once it starts to effect my family then rest assured I am going to come after the people who are the perpetrators of some of this filth.
“Some of it is vile, disgusting, unnecessary, it is very personal, more importantly in most cases it is not true.”
Mr Scally went onto give an example, saying: “I have seen a comment from one individual who said that I took a £46,000 pay increase in Covid year, not true. That absolutely didn’t happen.
“I think what this individual might have been referring to was the May 20 accounts. I was in Dubai most of that year and when I left Dubai in the latter part of that trading year I had to pay a lot of staff who were working for me in Dubai, which comes through my consultancy payment.”
The accounts for year ending May 31, 2020 say Mr Scally was paid £214,345 for consultancy services (£168,000 in 2019).
“It doesn't come to me personally.” he continued. “These are costs that would have otherwise have been incurred in the UK with staff here, that I was employing in Dubai.
“When I left there permanently I had to pay off staff and pay people off for services for the club and for marketing and accounting work they were doing for me and that is where the cost comes in. It was money that came out to me but was then paid out to other staff and facilities to run a business out there.
“In Covid year I took a 48-50% deduction on my salary anyway, along with other members of staff.
"It is unfair to suggest I took a £46,000 rise and if I was a season ticket holder being asked to donate my season ticket money for the Covid year I would be pretty miffed if I thought the chairman was actually paying himself more money out of me donating to the club.
“It puts me in a bad light. It is not right, not correct, untrue and of course it is damaging.
“These people maybe think they are having a bit of fun on social media at my expense but I will be going after these people individually and collectively over the next few weeks. It just isn’t right and more importantly it is damaging the business and it has to stop.
“There are certain individuals who have been popping away on the hate Scally campaign for ages and unfortunately they put stuff on social media that influences other people.”
Mr Scally said the abuse towards him at Shrewsbury affected the players.
He said: “A few of the players were very upset by what they heard and they were quite shocked by it. They didn’t like the atmosphere, it turned negative.
“It is not fair, very unnecessary and hurtful. I don’t think it’s the way true fans should behave.
“I heard that a few started it at Burton as well (Mr Scally wasn’t there on Saturday). I am told the majority wouldn't have it and told them to be quiet. I don't think true supporters are happy with that sort of banter, it is not banter, it is actually abuse.
“I have never bothered about it before but now I am bothered about it.
“Sometimes the small minority, a tiny minority, are ignorant or they don’t understand, or they are just being malicious or they just think it is funny, but it does affect the business and if it affects the business it affects me.
“The small minority have to look at themselves and say, ‘am I really a Gillingham supporter, because if I am a Gillingham fan I wouldn't behave like this'.”
Mr Scally urged anyone with an issue to contact him directly and added: “I owe it to my family, to the real fans who have been supporting me all the way through, to deal with these people and to make sure they realise that by doing what they are doing with abuse is not acceptable.
“All I would say to this small minority who seem to want to cause trouble wherever they can, is just stay away, we don’t need you.
“We are doing quite well without you, we don’t need you onboard when this ship sails. If you can’t support the club in the way you should support the club and behave in a reasonable and decent manner than don’t come, we don’t need you.
“We will only succeed if we stay positive and together.”