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Gillingham Football Club chairman Paul Scally writes open letter to fans and says the club is safe

Gillingham chairman Paul Scally has told supporters the club is safe despite the continuing lack of gate receipts and lost banqueting revenue.

Mr Scally says the club expect to miss out on around £600,000 in lost revenue from their usually popular festive parties, while Gillingham fans will have to wait longer before being allowed back into Priestfield, after the whole of Kent was placed into tier three of Covid restrictions.

Gillingham chairman Paul Scally has written to the club's fans
Gillingham chairman Paul Scally has written to the club's fans

The club is still hopeful that a bailout package from the Premier League will help their finances but as yet nothing has been agreed. The government are unwilling to fund the EFL. Gillingham haven’t played infront of fans at Priestfield for nine months and only clubs in tier one and two areas will be allowed fans to attend.

A review of the current restrictions is expected in mid-December and in the meantime the Gills will have to manage without that much needed gate money.

Despite the troubles, in a letter to fans, Mr Scally said: “The club is safe right now and whilst negative cash flow is clearly a problem, we live and hope that our fathers in football do the right thing and assist Leagues One and Two with a solidarity payment, which at the least will get us all to the end of the season, at which stage we plan a route through to the following season.”

The club’s banqueting facilities have also been closed since March and Mr Scally wrote: “Our banqueting facilities and theme bar were also closed and we have lost all our bookings for this year, all our Xmas trade, which would have been over £600k of revenue during this current Xmas period alone.

“Signs are not encouraging that we will be able to open these facilities until mid-summer next year at the earliest, and that assumes we gave a vaccine that is successful in the spring.”

The club have also been without any funds from online merchandising since June. Their online provider pulled the plug after being owed money, depriving the club of much needed income.

"We owed them some money which we were trying to pay, but it caused a problem by their actions," said Mr Scally.

“We were in a bit of an unsettled place in that period but have now settled down well.

“I’m not blaming the supplier but I felt their actions were harsh, in any event it challenged me to arrange a new merchandise online platform, more advanced than our previous offering.

"I’m delighted that we were able to launch our new GFC store online on Wednesday afternoon, after four months of hard work behind the scenes.”

Sales of merchandise online have been going well, apparently, with fans snapping up products ahead of the Christmas period.

Other creditors have been understanding, said the chairman, commenting that: “I have been humbled by many creditors and suppliers to whom we owe money from past trading for their understanding assistance and patience, and shocked by other individuals and businesses who have behaved appallingly in this crisis, showing no compassion, care, understanding, nor class.”

Current season ticket holders have so far missed out on eight of the 23 home games this season and Swindon will be another on December 8, with Accrington on December 15 also set to remain behind closed doors. There could be hope of 2,000 fans being admitted to the Boxing Day match with Peterborough United, however, dependent on Medway dropping to tier two levels. Tier one clubs will be allowed up to 4,000 fans into their stadiums from next week.

Gillingham play free-scoring Exeter City in the FA Cup second round on Saturday. Read what manager Steve Evans had to say.

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