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Gillingham chairman Paul Scally believes financial problems in the lower leagues run deep as Bolton and Bury face trouble

Gillingham chairman Paul Scally believes the problems gripping two of their League 1 rivals are just the tip of the iceberg.

The Gills’ game at Bury on Saturday has been suspended amid financial problems at the club. They have yet to get their season started.

Bolton have also been burdened by huge debts and both clubs have started the season with a 12 point deduction because of their financial issues.

Gillingham chairman Paul Scally wants government intervention to stop money ruining the game Picture: Ady Kerry
Gillingham chairman Paul Scally wants government intervention to stop money ruining the game Picture: Ady Kerry

Mr Scally again highlighted the financial problems gripping the game in his programme notes on Saturday - having previously described the lower leagues as the graveyard of football - and fears others could follow the likes of Bury and Bolton into turmoil.

He said: “Naturally we all hope that both Bury and Bolton can find a solution to their problems and can try to find some stability going forwards, but I am sure there will be others that will suffer the same issues.

“I think what we are seeing is just the tip of the iceberg.

“In my view, unless the government intervenes, and intervenes quickly, I really do fear for the future of English football. If the Premier League isn’t going to regulate itself further, and if things stay as they are, then the lower leagues in ten years’ time will look very different, if not before.”

Mr Scally spoke ahead of the season about the issues affecting League 1 sides but defended the EFL, saying: “I don’t think anyone should, or could, aim any criticism of the EFL.

“The EFL is our governing body, we are a member of the EFL, there are 72 clubs making up the EFL and the staff of the EFL offer an administration and a governance role, they don’t run the businesses.

“There isn’t much you can criticise the EFL for.

Gillingham chairman Paul Scally says the EFL are not to blame as Bury face financial ruin Picture: Ady Kerry
Gillingham chairman Paul Scally says the EFL are not to blame as Bury face financial ruin Picture: Ady Kerry

“With Bury it is a strange one, and of course they got promoted last season, now the cynic in me would say, well obviously you didn’t have the funds to get the players to win promotion and so whoever made those decisions and ran the club at that time, one would assume the chairman, must take responsibility for it.

“If you get promoted on funds you didn’t have that leaves your club in a precarious position the season after then that is nobody else’s fault other than the person who pulls the strings. If we got into the Championship by spending £10m of money we didn’t have then we would probably go bust the following year. I am responsible.

“I understand why the chairman may spend more than they would want, because there is a lot of pressure to spend money to try and satisfy the aspirations of fans and of course those aspirations are fuelled by what they see on social media, what they see on websites, what they hear on the radio and what they see on tv.

“I heard a debate about Arsenal spending £70m odd for Pepe from Lille, when they only had a budget of £45m. Fans are complaining that they only had a budget of £45m. Do these people really understand what they’re saying? It’s crazy.

“Fans in League 1 and 2 and Championship all want their club to go and spend £45m, of course we would all love to do that, but we don’t all have an Abramovich (Chelsea owner) or a Kroenke (Arsenal), or Farhad Moshiri at Everton. It would be great if we could but we can’t."

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