Evans planning for the future
Evans planning for the future

Gillingham boss Steve Evans has been reflecting on another difficult week at Priestfield as he firstly faced the end of the SKYBet League One season and then announced his retained list…

“It’s always tough when you have to make some decisions – and they’re big decisions,” Evans told KSN.

“Building what you believe in which is building your squad for next season and they’re always tough! We’ve been meeting with the players as often as we can social distancing permitted and virtually, we’ve been going through the season and then get to the nitty gritty – it has been a tough week!”

“It’s been a lot tougher than before because of the circumstances that we’re all still in these unprecedented times and lack of knowledge of what we’re all going to be going back to, but for me it was a little bit more than that with the loan boys when the five of them went back to their parent clubs.”

“There’s the five of them and the three who we’ve released and let go with one or two still on a knife edge which means we’ve left ourselves with seven players!”

“That arguably also tells everyone that we’re in good shape proving that as we go forward in July and August if there is no football, we’ll be in good shape.”

“To a degree all managers because of the current circumstances have had their hands tied. My Chairman has been in the office morning, noon and night with the finance team to look at different scenarios, so we’re no different to other clubs.”

“They’ve had to assume that if we start the season with no supporters, we have to budget accordingly without them which obviously means less money to spend on the team but the resources that the Chairman does make available – I know he’ll make them as large as he can, but obviously affordable which has to be THE number one criteria.”

“So there’s a board meeting on Friday – which I will attend – where the Chairman will outline more then – and I’ve been in every day this past week and I’ll be in every day this next week so we’re speaking pretty much every day and then we’ll see where we go.”

After releasing three players – Mark Byrne, Ousseynou Cisse and Ben Pringle, although Byrne will be offered at pre-season at Priestfield to gain a new deal – Evans confirmed the situation to the other out of contract players. “We haven’t offered the other players anything as yet,” he said.

“What we’ve said is that there will be a contract offer to you – it’s to what that level or time of that contract is in terms of length, whatever the renumeration is because it is unprecedented; I think wages will be coming down in football – it might not be if you’re moving for £100 million in the Premier League, but certainly in every other League they’ll be coming down because supporters income make a huge large part of it!”

“What I would say is that they probably make up less of a part for us than they do for the likes of Sunderland, for Ipswich, for Portsmouth and then it will depend if their owners want to make up some of the differential so what will be is will be mean, will be lean, will have some really focused people and I can assure people that the Chairman will make sure that our football club, when the boat does sail, will be strong!”

“The next few weeks are going to be very tough watching football coming back as I still think that we could have sneaked into the Play Offs – people tell me that it was a long shot, but it was a shot.”

“People have always said of my teams that if it’s a long shot, you nearly always get it and we continually win promotions but it will interesting as well as I’ll be watching it with interest – there will be players in both sets of Play Offs that we like at the minute; whether we can get them or not is a different matter, so there will be a lot of work going on in that front as well.”

“I’ll keep myself busy as football returns as what we’re just waiting for now is for the EFL to give us a start date for next season and then we can really go to work in terms of recruitment etc.”

“We’ve now had the days for the League One Play Offs and we now know where everyone is – I think the last Play Off Final is scheduled for the first week of August – my personal view is that we’ll be starting the new season towards mid to late September, but whether that’s the case that rests with the EFL board and I’m sure they’ll let us know that decision when they’ve reached it!”