Gillingham chairman Paul Scally delivers his latest set of programme notes.
Good afternoon everybody and welcome to the MEMS Priestfield Stadium for today’s Sky Bet League One fixture against play-off hopefuls Millwall.
I’d like to extend that welcome to the directors, management team, players and supporters who have made the short journey to Medway from South London for this game.
As I wrote earlier on this week, in my time as Gillingham Football Club chairman I can’t recall a time when I have felt so much pain after losing a football match. I have little doubt that our defeat at MK Dons last Saturday, having battled back from two goals down only to concede in the final moments of the game, tested the resilience of everybody who supports this great club.
You only needed to look at the reaction of the management team, players and supporters at full-time last Saturday to know what a body blow that was. But, if anything, looking back nearly a week on, that reaction gives me reason to be positive. I know how much everybody behind the scenes puts into this club, how hard they all work to make it successful and indeed how they continue to go about their daily duties with great professionalism and pride.
After every game, I visit the dressing room to see how Ady, our coaches and the players are feeling. They were all understandably devastated and upset at Stadium MK but it was clear how much it pained them to get nothing from the game.
I’m aware how difficult it is for all our supporters at the moment but I want you all to know that everybody at the club will continue to work hard on your behalf. We are fully committed to overcome this battle we’re currently facing, but we will only do so if we remain positive, united and strong.
However, there are few better games we could have hoped for this afternoon as the players look to respond to last Saturday’s disappointment. All week the mood around the club has been positive, the hard work has continued and there has not been a long face in sight.
With a sizeable away following guaranteed this afternoon, it goes without saying that the atmosphere inside the MEMS Priestfield Stadium today will be loud. I urge every Gillingham supporter to play their part in backing the team from the first minute to the last today to encourage our players while making it as difficult for our opponents as possible.
I’d like to thank every supporter and all those local residents who have already sent letters of support in regards to our new stadium ambitions at Mill Hill to Medway Council. As I have written before, should this site (situated near to our training ground) be featured in the council’s approved Local Plan later this year, our dreams of building a multi-purpose sporting venue will move a step closer.
Those fans who are yet to have their say still have time to do so. Pre-written letters will once again be distributed at the turnstiles this afternoon; these only need your name, address and the date added to them. Furthermore, letter templates can be downloaded from the club website should supporters wish to send them to the council via email. Submissions can be sent into MEDWAY COUNCIL PLANNING DEPARTMENT, GUN WHARF, DOCK ROAD, CHATHAM, KENT. ME4 4TR and emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. The closing date of the Local Plan consultation period is Tuesday, April 18, so do not delay in sending your letters in.
I also held a meeting on Monday morning with our ticket and media/marketing teams to discuss a few queries that have been raised regarding the release of our 2017/18 season ticket prices. We value comment at all times and have decided to make a few alterations, most notably to our under-12 pricing structure. Furthermore, we have extended our early bird sale period (which allows supporters to buy their season tickets for the best price possible) until April 29.
It is always our intention that fans are content with what we are trying to achieve, while ensuring we keep the club in business and competitive on the pitch. I noticed that Championship side Derby County posted losses for this year of £14.7m, following a loss of £10m last year; this once again underlines the need for a sensible ticket pricing structure and – more importantly – the benefits of relocating to a new stadium.
I’d like to thank everybody who has already renewed their season tickets; your support is invaluable. I’m delighted to hear that the response to our two-year season tickets has been extremely positive, too, with many of you opting to secure your seats at the Home of Football in Kent into the 2018/19 campaign. The coming months are vitally important for the future of the club as we continue our relocation plans while preparing for a High Court case relating to Centreplate’s breach of contract. Therefore, all the money raised from our two-year season ticket sales will provide an invaluable boost to the club’s cash flow at a crucial time.
Our Player of the Year awards night, which will take place on Sunday, April 30 at the Great Hall, is nearly sold out. This event is always a fantastic evening as it gives us the chance to thank everybody who was played a part in the season. We will be going digital with the voting this year; fans will be available to pick their Player of the Year, Young Player of the Year and Goal of the Season within a couple of clicks. Look out for more information on the club’s website in the coming days.
Finally, bookings are also open for the Take Heart Mercy Mission Summer Ball, which is also being held in our Great Hall, on Saturday, June 24. Tickets are available for a donation of £60 each, or £500 for a table of 10, with all money raised going towards the life-saving work performed by medics from the Evelina Hospital on critically-ill children in Sri Lanka.
For more information on both the Player of the Year night and the Take Heart Summer Ball, contact the club’s specialist commercial team on (01634) 350350.
Ady, the coaching staff and our players need your support throughout this afternoon’s game. Our wins against Scunthorpe United and Southend United owed a lot to the atmosphere inside the ground, so let’s raise the roof and help them in their quest to get the three points come 4.50pm.
Up the Gills!
Paul D P Scally