Cash crisis: Gills may sell key men
by Tony Hudd
GILLINGHAM are suffering major financial problems and face the prospect of having to sell their best players to avoid going into administration.
Player-manager Andy Hessenthaler broke the news after Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Wigan, the club’s fourth consecutive loss.
Rumours had been rife for weeks as the club struggled to meet the millions of pounds in shortfall caused by the collapse of ITV Digital, which chairman Paul Scally has repeatedly blamed for the club’s problems.
Now, just eight years after coming out of receivership, Hessenthaler confirmed: “We've got major financial problems at this club and it’s not easy. The chairman says he can pay the wages this month but next month he could be struggling. Things are tough.”
The news will send a shudder of trepidation through all Gills fans, especially those who remember how close the club came to closure in 1995 when Mr Scally bought the club.
Hessenthaler was responding to transfer speculation linking top scorer Marlon King with a move to Nottingham Forest. The club rejected Forest’s bid of £1.2m and are thought to be demanding £1.6m.
Asked a week ago about the transfer speculation, King, who has 18 months remaining on his contract, retorted: “It’s out of my hands.”
Now the manager has gone public on the club’s financial plight, Gillingham may be forced into accepting a cut-price offer for their most valuable asset. Right-back Nyron Nosworthy could also be sold to help stave off the threat of administration.
“Marlon is a goalscorer and we need him at the moment,” Hessenthaler stressed. “But the chairman has said that every player has got his price and if Forest up their price then we would have to think about selling him.
“Unfortunately for a manager in this situation it’s frustrating because you could lose your best players. If that’s the case, and it's going to help the football club to stay alive, I have to live with that.
“But I want to keep our best players and the goalscorers. The club has come a long way in a short space of time and we need to stay stable. If we lose a player so that we can remain financially stable, then so be it.”
Hessenthaler did not rule out the club going into administration.
Asked about that prospect, he said: “It could come to that. There are a lot of clubs in administration because the financial climate in the game is not good, especially in the lower leagues and Division 1.
“We don’t want to see the club go into administration. So if we have to lose players to keep us afloat then we'll have to do that. I don’t think it’s come to that stage yet but the way things are going in football you never know.”
At the Nationwide League’s summer meeting, chairmen agreed that clubs entering administration from the start of the 2004-2005 season would be docked 10 points and that clubs would only be permitted to remain in administration for a maximum period of 18 months.
ANDY HESSENTHALER: "The chairman says he can pay the wages this month but next month he could be struggling"
Report from Medway Messenger