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Paul Scally says he could quit as chairman of Gillingham Football Club

By Luke Cawdell

Gillingham chairman Paul Scally has hit out at his critics and threatened to walk away from the club after getting "disgusting and disgraceful" abuse.

He has become frustrated by the criticism aimed at the way he runs the League 1 outfit.

Mr Scally is the majority shareholder of the Gills and has been chairman for nearly 25 years.

Gillingham chairman Paul Scally Picture: Ady Kerry
Gillingham chairman Paul Scally Picture: Ady Kerry

His tenure, he says, is now at a crossroads and he had strong words to say about his critics.

He said: "I believe the club is now at a critical point in its long history whereby, after some considerable reflection and soul searching, I have to question why I am continuing to battle on a daily basis, often against the odds and under constant and extreme pressure, to run a club.

"I feel a segment of supporter base (and I can’t determine to what level) have no regard, respect, support, understanding, trust nor any consideration for me as an individual, nor the role I perform as chairman of this club, within a football pyramid that is dominated by rich pickings at the top two levels of football.

"For these reasons, I must now seriously consider over the coming weeks whether I wish to continue my role and lead this club forward, or indeed what the consequences for the club would be should I decide to take the easy option and just walk away.

"Attractive in that I get my life back, will not have the daily stress of the disgusting and disgraceful abuse I experienced from so-called fans during, but more so in the latter part of the season, but not so attractive in that I would be leaving a club that I believe we can still fulfil its potential.

Gillingham finished the season 13th in League One
Gillingham finished the season 13th in League One

"My thought and feelings have been clearly influenced by the chants of the “Scally Out” brigade, more vocal sadly at our last home game of the season against Charlton and directed at me predominantly from the Rainham End, whom I have always respected.

"The straw that has broken the camel’s back was when I sat in my seat at Blackpool for the last game of the season, when the team were winning by three goals, and all I could hear from a section of our so called ‘fans’ was the constant chant of “Scally, Scally, you’re a c…”

"Not nice, not acceptable, very hurtful, disgusting people, the lowest of societies low, individuals that are an embarrassment to this great club and the good people who generally care about the club, a form of cancer that I’m not sure I can heal, individuals that are probably fuelled by a group of people who purport to support the club, many of whom I’m aware of."

He continued: "For the club to really make progress we need to galvanise our real supporters, bring in new fans of the future, rid ourselves of damaging negativity, improve performances on the pitch, work harder on increasing non match day revenues and I need to continue to search for external investment."

Mr Scally's comments came in a chairman's report, which also revealed the club have, as expected, appointed Steve Evans as manager.

Former Peterborough Evans replaces Steve Lovell who was relieved of his management duties shortly before the end of the season.

In his time as chairman, Mr Scally has overseen the redevelopment of Priestfield Stadium, although the ITV Digital affair brought financial problems to the club, which he took over in 1995.

Under the management of Tony Pulis the Gills enjoyed success, winning promotion in Scally’s first season, but that partnership was to end in the courtroom.

Mr Scally has been involved in several other high-profile episodes but on the field there have been a number of triumphs, including two Wembley play-off wins and a highest ever finish in the Football League, under the management of Andy Hessenthaler.

Since relegation from the Championship in 2005, however, there has been less to celebrate. The League 2 title win under Martin Allen was their last promotion and since then it’s been a battle to produce a team that can succeed in League 1.

Last season they finished 13th in the division - five points clear of the relegation zone.

At the end of the current season Mr Scally spoke about the difficulty in managing the aspirations of fans.

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