Gills chairman addresses season ticket issues
Gills chairman addresses season ticket issues

Gillingham Chairman Paul Scally has published an open letter to the club’s season ticket holders from the 2019/20 and 2020/21 campaigns.

Fans have been waiting some time to find out what will happen to their investment in purchasing their season tickets and Paul Scally has set out what is to happen in his statement.

It reads:

“Dear season ticket holders and fellow supporters, I trust you are all keeping well and starting to find a way forward as we hopefully move out of the awful pandemic that has changed many of our lives over the past 17 months, and undoubtedly will put a new perspective on life going forward, with new challenges which we must rise up and adapt to, thus ensuring prosperous and positive future lies ahead.”

“Now that we are at the end of “The Lost Year”, a season that had many twists and turns, I’d like to pay tribute to all and every one of you for your tremendous support from afar, your patience and understanding, not to mention your will to assist the Club we all care for, and to ensure it’s long 127-year history stays intact.”

“I’d also like to pay tribute to the management and staff that helped us get through the season, to our sponsors and suppliers for rising to the challenge, one which on many occasions I was never certain was going to be achieved.”

“Thank you especially to our main sponsors MEMS, we are very fortunate to have such loyal and firm backing from a local firm, and as we enter the final year of our sponsorship agreement we look forward to bringing greater success to both organisations, on the field in the case of the Club, and in terms of profile and greater awareness in regards to MEMS.”

“Our players were also truely magnificent this season, every step of the way, week in week out, it wasn’t easy for them playing in empty stadia, staying in locked up and empty soulless hotels for away games with solitary protocols, dealing with all the other unnatural procedures required by the authorities, and still performing to a high level on the pitch, however to a man they rose to the challenge and we should all be proud of them and the coaching staff.”

“Thanks also to Steve and Rayns, they both did a remarkable job in more than tricky circumstances and congratulations to all our players, in particular our award winners, Kyle Dempsey on winning Player of Season, he had a fantastic year and is a fine leader, Vadaine Oliver who won Players’ Player of Year, Connor Ogilvie who won Goal of The Season and the ever improving Jack Tucker who won Young Player of The Year, all of whom were presented with their awards at our virtual Player of The Year ceremony after our last game of the season on May 9th.”

“Sadly, we will see the departure of several players during this coming period, it’s a fact of the business we are in that players will move on for a variety of reasons at season end, so I’d like to thank them all for everything they gave whilst at our Club, and wish them well in their careers in the times ahead. I know you will all concur with this.”

“Here at your Club, we are all working in a good and positive frame of mind, albeit there are significantly reduced levels of staff at this present time, and are making great progress as we prepare the business for the season ahead and beyond, and hopefully the return of supporters into the stadium, whether that be on a full capacity basis, or what will most probably be the starting point at a reduced capacity.”

“To that effect we are implementing new procedures including, but not limited to, a new ticketing system with a dynamic and progressive software Company called SecuTix, which will radically change the operation in terms of ticketing, access control and Customer Relationship Management (CRM), so staff focus is very much on training, integration and software design at this time, quite demanding and radical but with benefits which will make your future journey with the Club in terms of access, information, communication and purchasing much simpler and definitely more cutting edge.”

“The retail online store we launched before Christmas has gone remarkably well, sales are up month on month and we are introducing new lines on a weekly basis. The Club shop on Redfern Avenue will close, and a new “click and collect” area is being made ready.”

“We are moving towards a “cashless” stadium in line with many business and retail stores, more efficient and manageable. Please be patient as this new system takes shape, there is much still to do in a short space of time but we are confident we will be up and running by pre-season kick off. There is a huge amount of data being transferred from our previous, somewhat dated systems, but the final result will be very beneficial to one and all.”

“I spoke in my lengthy report of 26th March, about many topics, includin the efforts everyone has been making to keep the Club going with limited income, and I promised to write specifically to those season ticket holders that purchased tickets in the period between the last week of February last year and 13th March 2020.”

“The income we received from your early Season Ticket purchases has played a big part in getting us through to now. There is no easy way of saying this but, given our limited incomes since last March 2020, we don’t at present have the ability to refund you, nor can we carry refunds over to next season either given we need season ticket income to get us through the next 3/6 months to when other income streams open up.”

“Not a situation I feel comfortable with, in fact I’ve had many sleepless nights worrying about how to address the matter, hence it’s taken so long to write to you all as I was hoping there would have been some greater salvation from within the pyramid of football, but, whilst Government has instigated a completely independent review of football finances from the top down, (which we welcome), the end result will be a long way off in my view, so we are on our own in unchartered waters, and must find our own solutions if we are to survive and prosper.”

“There are probably legal positions and rights etc, which a few individuals have kindly brought to my attention through various keyboards… we know who most of these people are, I’ve also seen a couple of so called fans making noises and winding up supporters that may read their garbage on social media but I’m never going to hide behind, or rely upon a legal position to our true supporters, this is about good will and understanding, that’s really all I can rely upon.”

“I understand we have been able to offset your Season Ticket payments in most instances by allowing you to watch games via iFollow, the official EFL streaming platform, at a value of £10 per game, (£230 per season), and the EFL, (English Football League), records show there has been a huge following and uptake from all supporters via that platform, with non -season ticket holders paying full price for the benefit, but there is the issue of the balance paid on your accounts over and above this that I need to address, as well as the issues of, firstly the season before and the five games ST holders paid for that did not take place from the end of season 2019/20, and indeed for those that purchased tickets for the abandoned Fleetwood game on March 14th, and the games thereafter.”

“It is entirely the decision of each and every individual as to how you wish these issues to be dealt with. You know the position the Club is in, it’s been covered extensively, and therefore I am going to ask each and everyone of you to decide how we progress based on your own thoughts, and I will carry out your personal wishes accordingly, with no judgement being attributed to how you decide.”

“I think that is the fairest and only way to proceed, we have received many emails from supporters offering us their ST money paid as donations, offering the Club loans, personal help for free and many other offers of help, which is hugely encouraging, but we now need clarity from each individual so we can close off ‘the lost year’ and make positive progress going forward.”

“I would therefore ask each Season Ticket Holder who purchased a Season Ticket for 2019/20, and/or a Season Ticket for season 2020/21 to complete this online survey or, alternatively, complete the form which is downloadable on the relevant news story, and email/return to the Club by Friday 25th June at 5pm. This will be the cut off date and we will action each case based on your individual wishes.”

“After this date we would like to look forward and not backwards, therefore in general from the 25th of this month we would prefer not to entertain any further claims. Any supporters who purchased individual matchday tickets for any of the last five games of the season 2019/20, which ended prematurely on Friday 13th March 2020 should complete their details on the attached form and send the form with the unused tickets back to the Club, we will allow like for like replacements for the coming season.”

“Those Season Ticket holders that opt for option B, I would ask that you accept your refunds over a maximum three seasons to assist our cash flow, we will attempt to repay quicker based on any ‘windfall’ events occurring during that period, such as player sales, cup runs etc. If you have any other suggestions of comments, please use the comments box and we will respond accordingly.”

“We are making good progress on getting our new supporter clubs organized, covering all ages “new born to senior”. As part of our new
initiatives we will be working closely with the education sector and developing stronger associations with schools within Medway and
Kent, looking at fans of the future, very important to our strategy going forward. We will be encouraging our younger fans to join our junior clubs, working hard to bring new loyalty and fans onboard “the ship”.

“The “1893 Club” ‘adult (18+) will have four tiers, Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. There will be a “one off” adult joining fee going forward of £100 for this Club membership plus a small annual cost thereafter, this will include benefits and privileges to recognize loyalty and support, with criteria in place for promotion to a higher-level Club. This is currently being worked up. Promotion to a higher-level Club will not be able to be purchased, it can only be earned. Each tier within the 1893 Club will carry different privileges, benefits, rewards and recognition.”

“Finally, again I thank you all for your support, encouragement and above all patience. History will speak of this unnatural and difficult period within our lives whereby each and every emotion has been laid bare, most people we have dealt with during this long 15 months have stood tall and been counted, a few have sadly fallen way below the threshold, however we will soon all come together as one family again focusing on the positives and journey ahead, enjoying again our days at Priestfield and beyond.”

Kind regards

Up The Gills

Paul D P Scally