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Galinson delighted with Gills progress
Galinson delighted with Gills progress

Gillingham owners Brad and Shan Galinson returned home to the US at the weekend after their latest visit to see their investments progress. But before they left KSN caught up with the new Chairman for an exclusive catch up after the first couple of months of the “new-era”…

It’s been an incredible beginning for the American businessman – a start that has taken nearly everyone by surprise… but possibly not the man himself as he told us,

“You know it hasn’t surprised me but of course we’re happy about the speed of it,” he admitted. “Over a period of time, we hoped it would go in the direction that it has done, so in one way happily surprised, but in the other way, if you look at this community and these fans, you have people who have been fans for decades and so you have people who want their community club to succeed.”

“So that does make it a lot easier, we just had to deliver a “better” quality level entertainment. In retrospect it’s not surprising that everyone gets behind a club that wants to be transparent and wants to succeed on the pitch, but is has happened quicker than we could have hoped for.”

“In truth, the day of closing and the day before was probably the only time that we were ever anxious about the deal. We started talking when we were nineteenth or twentieth, but when we completed we were twenty-fourth and couldn’t get any lower.”

“So yes there was some trepidation – we hoped that because of the experience that was already at the club and knowing that we were going to bring in Kenny (Jackett) and Andy (Hessenthaler), we took a leap of faith that these guys are professionals – everyone who works here does it professionally – and that we’d figure it out, but there certainly was some trepidation to begin with.”

After their initial meeting and unveiling at the start of the year, the Galinson’s returned to Kent a couple of weeks ago and we wondered after such an amazing start, what would be the welcome awaiting them.

“We very much missed not being here so for us once we closed the deal and got to know everybody, brought in some better players and got results on the pitch which meant that when we came back, we loved it.”

“We very much look forward to coming back, we very much look forward to coming to the matches, seeing the Rainham End – there’s no trepidation in coming back, we really do enjoy it!”

One thing the new owners are clearly focused on is re-establishing Gillingham as a community club and they’ve already taken big strides.

“The match experience here is a lot of things, and it’s not just when you’re here at Priestfield,” the Chairman stated.

“The match experience is probably number one that comes with the entertainment from the team on the pitch – it’s like, what’s my food like What does the Rainham End look like? Are kiosks open, what do the queues look like, what do the “bathrooms” look like?”

“But then it’s not just that either- it’s also what does The Factory (the club’s bar) look like before and after a game? It’s what the social media is like before and after a game and the press conferences like?”

“You talk to Neil (Harris) on a regular basis, so a community club is really seven days a week. We’ve got a long list to do, and we’ve only done a little bit so far!”

“We’ve had some good success and are very pleased about it, but the list as I say is a bit long as well as being a bit eternal!”

“You can always be better, you can always deliver a better experience and so our ideas have been to do the big things first and then to keep going looking to always make things better.”

“I know it sounds a bit of a cliché but we serve the fans – the fans don’t serve us!”

“We wouldn’t be here without the fans and so the idea is that we have to continue to make the fans happy and their experience better.”

One thing that seems important to Mrs Galinson is women’s sport and women’s football and with Gillingham Women’s team currently based and playing at Chatham we explored the possibilities ahead for them, and would the Galinson’s be involved?

“In the US, ladies’ football is very similar – it’s an obvious statement but women are half the population here, so they get so much less than half of the resources and the history and expertise in sports and it’s the same in my country.”

“It’s a constant struggle to get them the resources and then ultimately the attendances and the support – the two countries are very similar.”

He concluded, “What we’re close to doing is making sure that we are supporting the Gillingham Women’s side whether they’re in Chatham or here at Priestfield or they’re owned by them or owned by us, so that they are supported the best.”

“But that doesn’t necessarily mean having them come back to Priestfield – maybe it does, but the idea is that we want to make sure that they are set up to be the most successful they can.”

“But like everything, it is a slow process – it’s not an immediate thing, it’ll take a while as there’s a lot of planning, there’s a lot of conversations still to have.”

“We’ll be back for Easter hopefully and we’re looking forward to it already!”