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Gillingham chairman Paul Scally defends club's sponsorship deal with Medway Council

By Luke Cawdell

Gillingham chairman Paul Scally is keen to distance the club from the political row that their new sponsorship deal has created.

Last weekend the Gills unveiled Medway Council as their main club sponsors for next season.

The Conservative-led council immediately came under fire, including from Medway Labour Party, who said they were shocked by the decision.

Gilingham chairman Paul Scally Picture: Ady Kerry
Gilingham chairman Paul Scally Picture: Ady Kerry

Mr Scally said: “I have seen some pretty poor comments, to be honest, and I suspect they have come from the opposition party in the council but I'm not into politics, this isn't a political move.

“I am very disappointed with some of the comments I've seen. They are unacceptable, unnecessary, they are unprovoked and they are misinformed.

“We are not political. We don't do this for political reasons, we do it for community reasons and for commercial reasons.

“If Medway benefits then we benefit and that is why we are doing it but we are not social workers – we are a football club.

"We want to see people prosper in Medway, we want to see schools get better, we want to see businesses come to the area and thriving in Medway, if we can help raise the profile by doing that then everybody is a winner.”

The Gills chairman insisted it was only a one-year deal, helping promote the area by renaming their stadium The Medway Priestfield Stadium and carrying the council’s logo on their home shirts.

He said: “It’s our 125th anniversary year and in any other year I would never have contemplated doing a deal for no actual financial benefit, but when we talked about it internally it was very important for us that Medway is recognised, nationally and internationally. I think Medway’s profile needs to rise even higher.

“The council are doing a very good job in bringing in industry and regeneration into the area and giving it is our 125th year it is only appropriate that we give something back."

The Gills insist they will still be paying for use of their training facility at Beechings Cross.

In a letter published by the chairman, he said: "We as a community football club continue to pay full fees for use of Beechings Cross as we have done for many years and at no time did I ask for, or wish for, any reduction or benefit from the council, infact we are investing our own money on the pitches to improve their quality."

Mr Scally hopes raising Medway’s profile could also help counter any loss of income.

He said: “If we get another 10 businesses into Medway that do business with us then that outweighs what we would have otherwise got for a shirt sponsor.

“We did a very good job of raising the profile of MEMS (their previous sponsors) and we have done it previously with SeaFrance, mhs Homes and others and they will all acknowledge that.”

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