Scally looking to the future
Scally looking to the future

Gillingham chairman Paul Scally believes a cloud has been lifted from the club following Steve Evans’ departure and he is looking hard to find his successor.

Evans was shown the door at Priestfield on Sunday following Saturday’s humiliating 4-0 loss at home to Ipswich Town.

By Monday morning Steve Lovell was back at the club once again taking temporary charge whilst Scally looks for the right person to take the club forward.

With Evans having left, short of three years that he was expected to be at Gillingham, Scally gave an insight into what life has been life at the club in recent months telling BBC Radio Kent:

“He has gone, there was a cloud hanging over the dressing room for a couple of months and I’m afraid the display on Saturday against Ipswich showed where we were at, how bad things were, we had an unhappy dressing room, we had an unhappy club.”

“On Monday morning we met with the players, I’ve never seen such a happy bunch of players. I went to the training ground and we had one to one chats.”

“I managed to ask Steve Lovell to come in and help, which he was happy to do as he loves the club, he’s a club legend and he knows the club, he knows the players and some of the players have played under him before and the players were very happy that he’d come in to help out.”

“There was no option for Steve Evans to stay at the club. If he’d have stayed at the club, we’d have got relegated and that wasn’t an option.”

“I took the action, but my only regret is that I didn’t take it a few weeks ago, maybe even two months ago, but the cloud has been lifted.”

“I understand there are concerns with the fans, because I’m concerned of course, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I wasn’t concerned.”

Meanwhile, Scally confirmed Lovell is only at the club to help them see their way through this weekend as he looks to find the replacement for Evans:

“Steve Lovell has come in this week to help us get through this weekend with no coaches or leadership coaches in the club.”

“Steve hasn’t been appointed and he understands that.”

“We have had many, many CVs in and I’ve already had three, four interviews this week, one today and I have three or four over the weekend and I continue to have interviews. I’m very impressed with the calibre of those that have made applications.”

“We’re very lucky that we’re clearly a very good Football Club and lots of people want to manage it.”

“We’ve got 22 games left, they are 22 battles. This is a time where all supporters that care about the Football Club, whether they are coming to games or not should unite as this is going to be one big fight together, this is no time for agendas, this is no time for negativity, this is the time for us to unite and we will worry about our differences another time.”

“The sooner we can get somebody in to unite the players and regroup the players the better. Steve is doing a great job already this week.”

“Every time we make an appointment, we think it’s the right person, but then things change.”

With seemingly a lack of spending at the club this past season, Scally refuted claims from some fans that was the case and went on the front foot insisting significant investment has been made this campaign:

“The solution is the same solution that has been for the last two years. Unfortunately, Covid has made a massive part in all of our lives and we’ve really been on hold for the past eighteen months.”

“There is no one particularly that wants to invest in Football Clubs or other businesses right about now and so we’ve been in suspense, but the plan is exactly the same as it was before Covid, seeking investment, we’re talking to some interested parties now as we will continue to do.”

“I don’t have the deep pockets other owners have, especially in the Championship, but then we don’t make the losses other clubs in the Championship make either. We’re a club without debt, we’re a good proposition for someone, it has to be the right people because some of the people I’ve seen and some of the offers I’ve had which haven’t been to outright buy the club, but to invest haven’t been from the right people or the sorts of funds haven’t been correct.”

“This is a myth that there has been no spending in the club. This is a myth that’s been created, it’s false, it’s not fair, it’s not true. Our budget this year has been the highest it’s been in League One for any manager, so there is no issue about investment. What’s important that when we go forward, that we get the recruitment right and recruit is the key to any successful Football Club.”

“Current spending for this season is £300,000 up on previous years and it’s the highest it’s ever been for us in League One. It’s not about spending, it’s about adding the right players, the right recruitment and adding the right manager.”

With so many fans having voted with their feet and not attending games at Priestfield, Scally addressed the thorny issue of the fall out with a large proportion of support, but failed to apologise for calling some fans cancerous. He said:

“Winning football matches means we have a happy fanbase. I quite understand why the fans are unhappy, I’m unhappy, the players have been unhappy. I’ve solved that problem now. We believed we were going in the right direction at one stage, then of course about three months ago that direction changed.”

“Right now, we need to retain League One status and to do that we need a united fanbase, united players and we need united staff.”

“I don’t have a problem with fans disagreeing with me, what I do have a problem with is any fans coming into Priestfield stadium and behaving in such a poor manner that distracts and deflects.”

“I have had fans coming to me saying they won’t come with their children and their families if the conduct of the fans is so disgusting, foul and abusive language, personal insults, personal threats, all unacceptable.”

“All we have done is have some people suspended temporarily from the stadium for conduct, they have had the opportunity to speak with the Safety Advisory Group.”

“There is probably not that many of them, about eight or ten and they have all been in individually or have arranged to come in to see our Safety Group.”

“The brief is if they agree to come in and behave acceptably in an appropriate manner, then of course they are welcome back to Priestfield.”

With fans calling for Scally to leave, the current chairman spelt out what he’s trying to do to find someone to replace him long term:

“I have said all along, if we can find someone that can come in that’s right for the Football Club, has got the right intentions for the Football Club and more importantly has the funds to take the Football Club forward, they are more than welcome to come in.”

“I won’t be a block to that. If they want me to stay and help and run the club then I will, if they want me to go I will do that as well. It’s not about the price of the club, it’s about having the people with the right intentions, with the right money and who are right for the Football Club.”

With the club staring down the barrel and relegation seemingly more likely by the day, now is not the best time to be a fan of Gillingham Football Club.