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Gillingham’s managing director Joe Comper describes the changes taking place at Priestfield which he hopes will benefit players and staff

Gillingham’s players can expect to see a few changes at Priestfield when they return next month.

While manager Mark Bonner has added new faces to the squad there’s also been a facelift inside Priestfield, with work done on improving the facilities for the players and staff.

Gillingham looking at a culture change at Priestfield following internal developments Picture: Keith Gillard
Gillingham looking at a culture change at Priestfield following internal developments Picture: Keith Gillard

Money that might have been used on a pre-season tour has instead been invested in producing a better working environment for the players, while an office makeover has also taken place which the club hopes will also be beneficial.

The club’s managing director Joe Comper has described the changes that have been going on since the season finished.

He said: “Most of the work that is going to go on the fans won’t see, if I am honest.

“We are having the players’ lounge redeveloped to create a better environment for them. Our training ground at Beechings is five minutes away and the players are here every day.

“At some clubs you will just go to a training ground, whereas our players are based here, they eat here, they socialise here and we are making that environment nicer for them.

“We are doing some basic stuff on the changing rooms to try and make it a little prettier and some executive boxes are also being done, along with changes to the offices.

“A lot of the building work is about cultural differences. All of the football staff are going on the third floor here, rather than at the moment where they are a bit split, so we will have everyone on one floor.

“We will have the recruitment team and first-team coaches, the academy, they will all be on one floor and that is great.

“You want the academy staff to see (first-team manager) Mark Bonner, you want them to see (director of football) Kenny Jackett and have that interaction, making sure we are all on the same wavelength. It is all about developing a culture.”

The club have opted against heading out on a tour this summer, despite the success of their trip to Como last year.

In a recent update to fans, Mr Comper explained the benefit of investing in the ground instead.

He said: “Como was amazing and I know people would like to go away and do a trip but the reality is that it costs a lot of money and while it created a good team spirit and we started last season fantastically - and I think Como was a part of that - this year we have been spending that money on things we hope are going to benefit us long-term as well.

“We are investing in facilities, particularly among the playing areas, the new players’ lounge, new catering equipment, the whole area is being re-done.

“The players should look at it and say ‘wow, this is brilliant’.

“We want the players to think they are lucky to be here and proud of it.”

Gillingham managing director Joe Comper. Picture: Kent Pro Images
Gillingham managing director Joe Comper. Picture: Kent Pro Images

Mr Comper, meanwhile, has said there are no immediate plans to upgrade their training base at Beechings Cross, although discussions over long-term projects are ongoing.

“We have a lot of options,” he said. “It is always a topic of conversation, things we talk about with the council and things we would love to do, local partners who have expressed an interest in working and developing it with us.

“At this moment in time the facilities over there are good for League 2, certainly in terms of the grass and the space we have and the fact that it is enclosed, there are a lot of positives to Beechings.

“The building is not good for us, it is no use, that is why we come here. One day could it be something we do? Yes, but it is not going to happen this summer. There are no plans in the short term to do anything big.”

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