GMB call on Gillingham FC to lift ban on GMB members

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GMB, the largest trade union for schools support staff in schools in Kent and Sussex, are extremely concerned that Paul Scally, owner of Gillingham Football Club, has banned GMB members employed by Gillingham FC Community Trust from entering the Priestfield Stadium.

Frank Macklin, GMB Regional Organiser said, “It has become very clear that Mr Scally’s relationship with Gillingham FC Community Trust has come to an end after Mr Scally served the Trust with a notice to quit the stadium and then openly advising Trust staff at a meeting of his intention to open a new school at the site.

“I am extremely concerned that GMB members have been caught up in Mr Scally’s actions through no fault of their own and are now being victimised if they do not indicate that they will stay at the club and work directly for Mr Scally.

“I believe that Mr Scally’s recent actions will have a detrimental impact on the employment of GMB members employed by Gillingham FC Community Trust to work at the school, based at  Priestfield stadium site. Mr Scally’s actions may also have a serious impact on the welfare and future of the vulnerable children who attend the school at Priestfield Stadium as they do not have access to a mainstream education.

“After serving Gillingham FC Community Trust with his notice to quit the premises by 31 October, Mr Scally then met with all of the staff employed by the Trust and gave a presentation on what his vision was going to look like for a new school. Within five minutes of the meeting ending a GMB member was asked for their opinion on the presentation and if they would be moving across to the new school by the Head Teacher who was speaking on behalf of Mr Scally’s new venture despite being an employee of Gillingham FC Community trust. When the GMB member declined to comment one way or the other, they were told you are either with us or against us and if you are against us you should leave the building immediately.

“The following day, the same GMB member was asked to attend a meeting with the Head Teacher at the school, but when the GMB member arrived with their GMB representative, they were informed that the meeting was actually with Mr Scally. It was at this meeting that Mr Scally banned the GMB member from the stadium.

“GMB has also been informed that a decision was made yesterday to ban another GMB member from entering the stadium.

“GMB has a long and proud record for standing up for our members working in schools throughout Kent and Sussex and we will not allow Mr Scally to bully and victimise our members when they have done nothing to warrant such outrageous behaviour.

“GMB believes that Mr Scally’s actions may well lead to Chaos and an uncertain future for GMB members employed by Gillingham FC community Trust, but most importantly GMB believes that these action will also affect the vulnerable children who attend the School at Priestfield Stadium.”

Contact: Frank Macklin,  07983 326743;  Charles Harrity, GMB 07977 518042

Notes to editors:

1) Why are the two organisations parting? Gillingham Football Club (GFC) Chairman, Paul Scally, also a Trustee for the charity, issued notice of termination on the current service agreement between the club and charity, giving until October 31 2017 to vacate the stadium premises. GFC wishes to have a significantly larger payment from the charity and to control its activities. The Trustees have concluded that this would contravene the correct morals of the charity, and divert funds to the benefit of the Club in contravention of its charitable status.

2) Why have Gillingham Football Club issued this notice? In April 2017, Mr Scally requested a significant increase in the financial contribution that the charity makes annually to the football club for the facilities. The proposal could not be agreed by a majority of Trustees, because it threatened the financial stability of the charity, and the amount demanded was not compatible with the facilities being used. Mr Scally proceeded to move monies from the charity bank account to the club account, without the necessary approval from other Trustees. Following a request to return the monies, Mr Scally issued the notice of termination to the charity.

3) What impact will this have on the charity? As of November 1 2017, the charity will cease using both the branding of GFC and the premises of GFC (Priestfield Stadium). The Trustees and Chief Executive are making arrangements to deliver all activity, with new branding and in different facilities. The change presents an exciting opportunity for the charity to really focus its efforts and broaden its remit in terms of supporting the local community, and acting with public benefit at its heart.

4) Will all current projects continue? Some existing projects are more reliant upon the partnership with, and branding of, Gillingham Football Club, and these projects will be impacted. Others, such as the Independent School and the Apprenticeship programme, are less reliant on the partnership and so will continue with little impact.

5) Where will the charity relocate to? The charity has so far received great support from some of its partners, and at this early stage has a number of options with regards to the relocation of its Head Office staff, as well as individual projects. Further clarity on this matter will be given in due course.

6) How is Gillingham FC planning to deliver its charitable objectives? The future of Gillingham Football Club’s charitable objectives are a matter for the Club, and so any questions concerning future delivery will need to be directed toward the football club.

7) What impact is this likely to have on staff? The charity has already begun to discuss funding with each of its partners, and the successful continuation of projects will ensure that this process has as minimal impact upon staff as possible. The Trust hopes that it will be in a position to continue with much of the good work already started.