Gateshead breakaway club


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Gateshead breakaway club
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Gateshead breakaway club

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Gateshead FC Supporters' Group, Gateshead Soul, have proposed the formation of a new club, breaking away from Gateshead FC in its current guise.

At an open meeting among Heed fans at Pelaw Social Club on Wednesday evening, Gateshead Soul chairman Bernard McWilliams revealed they have key stakeholders ready to come on board and the group have the backing of the council and local MP Ian Mearns.

Through Gateshead Soul membership (£10 per month), fans will also hold a key stake in the club.

The new club does not have a name yet but Gateshead Soul have assured fans they have a potential management team in place ready to take over and they will continue to play within the borough of Gateshead.

It is likely the new club would be placed in step seven of the football pyramid which means the new club would ply its trade in the Wearside League.

The group said there is a slim chance they will receive special dispensation to be placed in step five which would be the Northern League Premier Division.

The decision wasn't taken lightly by Heed fans and there was some opposition by a minority of fans in attendance at the meeting.

However, the vast majority of the roughly 200-strong crowd were in agreement that this was the best way to proceed after a disastrous season off the field reached crisis point this week.

Manager Ben Clark, assistant manager Ian Watson, press officer Dominic Scurr, general manager Alisha Henry, kit manager JJ O'Donnell and club therapist Annie Davis were all informed by either text or email that they had been relieved of their duties over the past few days.

With the whole first team squad out of contract, it has left Gateshead FC without a single member of staff.

As such, Gateshead Soul took the decision to take immediate action following a season of off-field turmoil which has seen the club placed under a transfer embargo, key players and popular members of staff leaving the club, a dispute over unpaid wages, debts continuing to mount and an ongoing investigation into the club’s controversial financial advisor Joseph Cala.

Despite being up for sale, Gateshead FC appointed two new directors last week. They have also been thrown out of their Gateshead International Stadium home over unpaid bills owed to Gateshead Council. A move to Newcastle Falcons' Kingston Park , five miles outside of the borough, had been touted.

But after last night's meeting, it seems the core of Gateshead's fans are ready to throw their support behind the new club.

In a statement, Gateshead Soul said: "As we all know, the current situation at 'Gateshead Football Club' is nothing short of abysmal and a complete insult to the borough of Gateshead which has had a football club proudly representing it for almost 80 years.

"Following the sacking of all staff members via email, the Gateshead Football Club we used to know is no more.

"All players (with the exception of Scott Barrow whose contract runs until the end of June) are now out of contract and will not be returning under the current regime.

"We have heard from several sources that 'the club' is possibly seeking voluntary relegation from the National League and looking to relocate.

"Gateshead Council evicted the club from the International Stadium in March due to unpaid rent and it will not be returning.

"This can be further backed up by the statement released 'From the office of Ranjan Varghese', which states: 'The International Stadium is not ideal and we have been working hard behind the scenes to identify an appropriate venue that could become our new home.'

"After all the countless lies that have been told, it would be naive to accept anything that comes from Ranjan, Joseph Cala or anyone connected to them as even remotely truthful. But the fact of the matter is that unless they can magic a stadium out of thin air in less than a month, then that so-called 'new home' will not be in Gateshead.

"This will bring a 79-year tenure of a football club under the Gateshead name playing in Gateshead to a shameful end.

"And with no players, staff or home - it's heartbreaking to admit that the evil which somehow got its clutches onto our once proud football club has well and truly killed it.

"'Gateshead Football Club' is now nothing more than a name owned by some charlatans who seem perfectly content destroying it with no sense of remorse or decency. It is beyond saving and we cannot afford to wait any longer for the FA to act.

"As previously mentioned, our only option as a group of fans that will ensure football survives in Gateshead under the Gateshead name is to form a new club together.

"During Saturday's match, we received an overwhelming reaction from fans which supported the need of a new club being created; this was before the situation became even more urgent when Gateshead FC dispensed of all of its players and staff.

"Establishing a new club will be a tough project, however with the full backing of the community we will make this work.

"Gateshead Soul has raised and will continue to raise money that would help fund a new club which will allow fans to be part owners. Anyone who becomes a member of Gateshead Soul will play a huge part of a new fan run club – our club.

"A number of key stakeholders in the community have already offered their support which would allow things to develop very quickly. Gateshead Council backs the people of Gateshead and to that aim they see the fans as the people of Gateshead.

"New clubs will be considered for step 7 of the non-league pyramid, but can get special dispensation to start as high as step 5 in Northern League Division One.

"We would look to have a competitive budget which can be achieved through various income streams and sponsorship.

"A Go Fund Me page has been set up to provide a solid foundation and starting point to allow a new club to hit the ground running for the 2019/20 season.

"We will need as many backers as possible but the end result could be something truly special. We will have a club to support in our town, one that we can be proud of on and off the pitch.

"We have no time to waste, we have to act now.

Meetings are expected to take place with key stakeholders in the coming days as the fans look to form their new club in time to meet application deadlines ahead of the new season.

Former Rochdale owners Chris Dunphy and Bill Goodwin, who had agreed a deal in principle to buy Gateshead but never received a witnessed exclusivity signature from Heed owner Ranjan Varghese, could be on board with the new club in some form.
3rd May 2019 12:54 PM
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