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Gillingham fans left reeling after hearing Paul Scally in surprise talkSPORT interview

Gillingham fans were left reeling after hearing Paul Scally in what was a surprise interview talkSPORT on Tuesday morning.

Fair to say the near 10-minute chat has got plenty of people on social media talking, and many in anger at the man who served as the chairman of Gillingham between 1995 and 2022.

The topic of the chat was about mental health in football, he was reflecting on his time at the League Two club, but feels hard done by with the abuse he got as the atmosphere turned sour at the Priestfield outfit.

JW: Back in August last year, a man that you know and who I know, Paul Scally, he was at Gillingham, the Gillingham owner. He was forced to bow to the pressure of the club’s ownership and publicly tell everyone, I’m taking time out altogether, taking time out from football in general. Paul Scally had been subjected to trespass on his property, damage to his car, intimidation of his family, the lot. There was a section of the support who really turned on him because the results weren’t going the right way. Under his ownership, the club had enjoyed its most successful spell ever. But this was Scally back in August, saying, I’m out here.

PC: That line has become personal. It’s become dangerous, it’s become hurtful, it’s become painful, and it’s affected my children. And once it starts to affect me and the children, then it’s time to draw a line under it and say, well, actually doing this job is not worth what comes with the territory. These people have crossed so many lines now that you do wonder what they’re going to do next and what they’re capable of doing next. I’ve had people on my property. I’ve had people damaging my car. I’ve had people caught on camera damaging my car. People who are taking pictures of the damage they’ve done to my vehicle. It’s gone past what would normally be considered as normal football banter, in my view, and I actually don’t know what it’s about. I don’t understand what they want. If I walked out of the club today and there was no support for the club, the club would collapse. And if that’s what they want, then they’re not really dealing with fans or football fans.

JW: So that was Paul Scally back in August about what a difference six months makes. An American investor came in the scene. Paul Scally liked the look and the sound of him and this man got involved, got involved in the football club. Brad Gallinson, a US investor, and put in several million pounds. And that has changed everything. Scally stayed on the board. The club is still somewhat struggling to stay in League Two. But much of Scally’s personal grief has gone. As he explained just a short time ago, football has changed so much in the time from when I came in 95. I mean, 27 years is a long time. We had years and years of great characters and fans that were loving their football, and there wasn’t as much money in football in the late 90s, early 2000 period. And I think the trouble is that the whole influx of football into the Premier League has changed people’s minds. I listen on your show to fans talking about their clubs only spent 60 million in the window, or 70 million. It’s almost like, Please take a look at yourself in the mirror. What you’re saying, this is extremely huge amounts of money. And a club like Killing Him probably needs three or £4 million a year to get through, actually, to survive in the division, as do most clubs in league two and League One.And of course, what’s happened is, because of this influx of money, expectation levels of rap have gone high. I think Covid didn’t help. I thought a lot of people came out of COVID in a very different mental state to the one they went in.And there was a sort of anger after COVID that I was really surprised about because I worked and we worked at a club such as we could really hard to get the stadium ready. And those dark days of COVID where we had no fans in the stadium and I was really excited to get fans back. And what came back was a very mixed sort of group of people that I don’t know, they were different. It was just different. And it didn’t really change from then. And I don’t know why they turned on me, because nothing had happened that should have made them turn on me.

JW: I mean, now, Paul, you’ve embarked in a happy and healthier period of your life, and yet you say certain people should hang their heads in shame. Who are they and how bad did it get?

PS: Well, they’re a small group, in fairness, but social media, as we all know in life now, social media has a lot to answer for.I mean, for all its strengths, it’s also got huge weaknesses. And for all its benefits, there are great dangers with social media. And social media was probably influenced by between a dozen and two dozen people only, and they were incessant. I mean, they were absolutely fanatical. They were obsessed. It became their lives. I had an aircraft line over different stadium with banners on the hate, and the vitra was just vicious. And it got worse and worse. And I think it was almost like they were fueling each other. We know mostly who they were. We definitely know the names of the people. Obviously it’s the same people all the time, but they had a voice and the voice was influencing the younger people that probably didn’t know much about the history of the club that came along and just held abuse. And that’s how it was. And it got worse and worse, and then it got personal and then my family were affected. I had all kinds of threats and the police were involved. If you look at your lowest points in life and take away family bereavements from that equation, my lowest period was definitely from sort of March, April, right away through to December. And it was very, very bad. I have to say, when you talk about being on the edge, I was definitely on the edge.

JW: And, Paul, we could draw parallels with others in a similar predicament at the moment. I mean, you look at Graham Potter at Chelsea reportedly receiving death threats, which is absolutely, absolutely unacceptable. Can you assure him and others who are under the caution at the moment that good times lie ahead?

PS: I’d like to be able to reassure him that good times lie ahead. I mean, I listened toGraham’s interview and it’s painful. Any human being or any sort of compassion or soul would have looked at that and been horrified by what he’s going through. I mean, our sport has become a sport that used to be very, very enjoyable. Money is, you could argue, money has ruined it. I get sick and tired of hearing about we’re the greatest league in the world and wherever else. But that all well may be good and proper, but it’s about people’s enjoyment. It’s about people coming out and realizing that they’re supporting a club and the club is doing its best and the people who work for the club are doing their best. There’s no question that Graham is not only a very, very nice guy, but he’s also a very good manager. It just hasn’t gone right for him at this moment in time at Chelsea. And you could argue that the huge amount of money that he’s been given to spend has actually damaged the club rather than help the club, because it’s given him far more superstars and people with big ego, players with big egos to manage. I just wish there was a way back to the old days, in a sense, but it’s never going to happen in my lifetime and probably never in anyone’s lifetime, because it’s gone too far. Now. What’s interesting, Jim, is that I can walk down the street, I go into supermarkets, I meet lots of fans on trains, and people come up to station managers come up to me, and there’s fans, and they all congratulate me, and they want but no one, none of these people that abuse me ever come to my face and speak to me. You know, I say to people, look, my office is open, I’ll stay here till 10:00 tonight. If you got an issue, come and talk to me. No one turns up. They don’t want to come and see me face to face because I don’t actually think they actually know why they behave like they behave. I think it’s just almost like a sort of a fashionable thing in their heads to do.

JW: That was Paul Scally, one time owner of Gillingham, but now still involved, a director at the football club and now this.US investor Brad Gallinson has got involved and has righted the ship. Financially, the club still finds to stay in League Two. So the abusers of Scally have gone, but they’ve left a bit of a mark on them.But life has turned around again for Paul Scally. He’s given so much of his life to his football club, but should it be that way. At the end of the day, what do people actually think when they’re dishing out the abuse?


As mentioned, Gillingham fans were left reeling after hearing Paul Scally in a surprise talkSPORT interview…

@gfcbekah: Scally is like a bitter ex you just can’t get rid off #gills

@lee_gfc_: How Paul scally is still a director at this club after that I’ll never know the bloke highlighted everything but the positives showing exactly where the problem was up until December

@JamesCruttwell: Scally going on @talkSPORT and slating #Gills fans on the morning of our biggest challenge home game since the takeover. When the place is filled with the most positivity it’s seen in years. When it’s the most full it’s been in years. Poor form, Paul.

@johnig86: @talkSPORT I don’t agree with how Paul scally was treated. BUT it was a minority of the fan base and there is now a positive vibe all around the club since the Galinsons came in so why does Mr Scally decide to come out now and bring it up again?? He doesn’t help himself.

@Champ_GFC74: I really couldn’t care less about Scally’s appearance on Talksport, if he wants to harp on and continue to live in the past, let him crack on, thankfully the club and fans alike have all moved on. Anything he says now isn’t going to derail that. #Gills

@OwenLDBR: Scally going and doing that is incredibly disrespectful to Brad, Shannon and Fish. However, is anyone surprised? Absolutely not #Gills

@louishart_: When Paul Scallys name is irrelevant, he suddenly feels the need to make headlines and get people talking about him once again. #Gills

@HouckhamAdam: Just as the fans are reconnecting and loving the atmosphere around the club, Scally pulls that interview out. Toxic isn’t the word, perhaps his irrelevance now is starving his ego. #Gills #GillinghamFC #Gillingham

@nickbull21: Scally’s much-repeated claim that only a small minority on social media were vocally against him is deluded nonsense. Opposition and discontent can manifest in other ways – as proven by the huge leap in attendances since January. #Gills

@AGraizevsky: Paul Scally seriously sounding like a toxic ex who won’t let go on TalkSport. The club has moved on and is better without you in control, please just stop with your weird obsession of putting the fan base and club in a bad light #Gills

@GillsInTheBlood: 🎙️ Our former owner has been live on the radio this morning it seems. Assume those in charge knew of it, but genuinely don’t understand why he’s seemingly gone over the same old ground that’s he’s brought up on more than one occasion previously? 🤷🏻‍♂️ Why? That’s what you have to ask? What is his motive? Brad, Fish & others have done wonders changing the whole feel of our club in recent months yet now attention will be on Mr Scally after him dredging up the same stuff we’ve all heard. Doesn’t learn. We’ve all said if people broke into property or personally abused him that’s wrong, but it’s not a new story. Brad delivered a transfer window like no other allowing us to ride a wave of positivity over the last few weeks. This just screams attention seeking. A desperate attempt to stay in the limelight. You served us well when you took over, giving us some wonderful memories. Don’t be so selfish to now deflect away from the positivity & new memories Brad & Shannon are helping create. It’s not your club anymore. Anyway, that’s enough about it from me. We have a team to roar on tonight & a football match to win. If he is in attendance this evening, let’s not give him the attention he craves because of the above reasons. Like he’s told us before, never look back.

@al13gills: Absolutely disgraceful from Scally to go on talksport and moan about the fans again. We are on a wave of positivity currently and for him to go and do that is shocking. Should be removed from the club immediately. #gills


@WalkAwayDamo: Thoughts on the Scally interview – I am not sure what procedures are in place to approve media appearances, but there should be. I don’t really see the sense in bringing up the past – many fans want to move on. Scally has profited greatly from the sale and he should too. However my unpopular opinion is this – Scally said nothing controversial and nothing that I wasn’t told by long standing ST holders when I visited back in January. Scally isn’t perfect, but our fans didn’t always shine themselves in a bright light either. Grow some skin. Now I say “many fans” want to move but there are also many that don’t. There are fans who will happily keep slinging mud at him now it’s over, and are now getting all sensitive when he goes on to radio and hits back. Again, grow some skin. It’s so petty. I also resonate with Scally’s COVID comments. Fans did come back different. With hindsight, the damage controls we put on businesses in COVID were borderline criminal. I spoke out about this very vocally, and voiced fears that cutting off our revenue streams would cripple us. We all knew Scally’s limitations. We all knew that Gillingham would suffer under those restrictions. As time wore on we knew the science behind them were baseless. Yet so many fans supported them. It is mind blowing 🤯Fans also supported the demise of our club in supporting fear-mongering and unethical government overreach. Then they took our financial struggles out on Scally. If that offends you then, again, grow a thicker skin. There’s a common theme here on this thread, because that is my advice to both Scally and the fans who can’t keep his name out of their mouths; grow some skin, shut the hell up, and move on. All of you. #Gills

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