Ranjan Varghese (RV) – BBC Newcastle Interview Transcript with Alfie Joey (AJ) – Friday 3 May 2019
Gateshead Soul (GS) responses in italic.
AJ: What is going on?
RV: What is going on is pretty much settling down right now.
GS – Ranjan has sacked all staff and left the club with virtually no players and dismissed this as ‘settling down’.
We came into the club a little bit later part of the beginning of the season, we really wanted to come in the beginning of May (2018) but due to the due diligence process and various other vetting processes which we had to clear, the takeover got a bit delayed and we had to start somewhere towards the end of July which basically means we had to inherit everything what was there for many, many years.
GS – RV admitted in a club statement that no extensive due diligence took place.
And during the last 10 months, we had financially taken control of the club and we were doing a lot of financial restructuring and at the same time, our job was to give a fantastic football entertainment to the fans
GS – The fantastic football entertainment was delivered by the players and
the management team who you have now sacked/let go while also selling various key players behind people’s back while under a transfer embargo.
AJ: You say it’s settling down, the club’s got no staff, you’ve got no
manager, you’ve got one player and you’re under a transfer embargo
and you say it’s settling down?
RV: Yes, exactly. Right now, financially the main goal was to achieve the financial stability on the club. Now we are pretty much done with that and now we look with a great ambition for the next season.
GS – How can a club who has not paid bills, staff or creditors be classed as
‘financially stable’ while also dismissing staff due to financial reasons? If the club is financially stable, why have these bills not been paid?
AJ: Are you aware of the fans are really unhappy with all this, they’re
not just refusing to renew season tickets, they’re trying to buy a new
RV: No, I think…
AJ: Well yes!
RV: Yes, I agree with that but what I hear is that it is a small group of people
who are trying to make a political advantage out of the club which is under the leadership of Mr Bernard and so it’s a small group of people which is around 25 people, 30 of them.
GS – Gateshead Soul has had various meetings which have been well attended. Tuesday’s meeting saw roughly 200 people in attendance while various protests have gained plenty of support. Not to mention the majority of fans at the final match of the season against Barrow signed a petition that supported the Gateshead Soul cause. The Gateshead Soul is increasing in members daily and we are about to surpass 100 active members who donate at least £10 per month.
AJ: Well they’ve got a crowdfunding and they’ve already raised
hundreds of pounds to try and buy a new club!
RV: No, there is no fans actually, you see in our club we had only 350 paying fans so when you say thousands, I beg to differ with that actually…
GS – Gateshead Soul has already raised a significant amount of money in a short space of time towards our goals. Although some way short of our targets, it is clearly evident that we have the backing of the footballing community at home and abroad.
AJ: Well I didn’t say thousands. You put the club up for sale in March,
back in March, are you still interested in selling?
RV: Well now the club has achieved the financial stability so the club is always for sale but now it would be for a price because now we have constituted a very nice board here. We have two new directors coming in that is Nigel (Harrop) and Trevor (Clark) with very long experience in the business. And we have a very solid media manager who will be Peter Grant and we have a trusting coach Mr Dave Dickson. So it’s a very, we are going forward with…
GS – How has the club achieved financial stability? Roughly £30,000 is still owed in unpaid wages, numerous creditors are still owed money as well. If you’re referring to football, Trevor Clark’s ‘very long’ experience in the business seems to be negligible while Nigel Harrop’s previous exploits include the overseeing of Ilkeston FC’s liquidation. Peter Grant has had a strained relationship with fans in recent months to say the least and his ‘come on you stupid woman’ comment heard over the PA during the final game of the season says everything about his character and lack of professionalism. It appears his sexism and incompetence has been rewarded. As for Dave Dickson, a man who has never managed a senior game of football at any credible level and has paid his way into the role for personal gain.
AJ: But who would want to buy a club with no manager, one player and
fans who are discontented?
RV: It’s up to them. You have a value in the club now that the club is debt free and so we are not persuading for a sale like we did two months ago. But if somebody comes with an offer then yes, of course, why not?
GS – We had two credible people in Chris Dunphy and Bill Goodwin waiting to buy the club for over a month and have put in an offer. Why have you refused to sell or even co-operate?
AJ: Well I’ll tell you why not, would someone want to buy a club if they
didn’t know where they were going to play? The International Stadium
has been the home, it’s owned by the Council, you said you’re looking
for somewhere else.
RV: No, I never said that we are going somewhere else. We are going to play in the Gateshead International Stadium and we are not going anywhere and this season we are going to there and we have this new board and we’ll bring up the team and we will be playing there so everything will be fine.
GS – In a statement released on Tuesday 30 April you state that ‘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’ – this completely contradicts that just days later.
AJ: No discontent from the Council, are you convinced…
RV: No we have a fantastic relationship with the Council, we have a fantastic relationship with the Football Association and we have a fantastic relationship with the league and everyone so it’s only a small group which is protesting and at the same time now they are raising funds under our company trademark and logo and it’s a criminal offence. How they can use our club logo to raise money for something else?
GS – The council kicked the company out of the International Stadium due to unpaid rent, we would hardly call that a ‘fantastic relationship’. The club is under an FA investigation, we would hardly call that a ‘fantastic relationship’ either. The numerous fines and sanctions the league has imposed on the club as well as speaking with members of the National League directly would suggest the relationship with them is hardly ‘fantastic’ either. The company trademark and logo you refer to is not a trademark at all and free for anyone to use. Unlike yourselves, we have done our research on this matter.
AJ: How hands-on are you because you have tried and failed to take on
several other clubs and from what you hear, you’ve been basically
running Gateshead in a, how close are you, how intensely are you
RV: Very much, very much. Previously we had a very strong director, Mr Mike Williams and he was running the show but then we had a small gap in between because he had to step down. So we were looking for new team, new management team to run the club and now we have two strong directors in the place so we will be moving forward strongly into next season.
GS – You have attended one football match at the International Stadium which was against Aldershot in October 2018. Also visited the International Stadium on two other occasions around the turn of the year and have had very little contact with any now former employees of the club. Also, why have you neglected to mention Joseph Cala, the man who everyone knows is ‘running the show’ as has been documented and proven by several sources, statements and even stated by Cala himself? Why did Mike have to step down, it wasn’t to protect his own interests due to a winding up order that was handed to the club by HMRC was it?
Gateshead Soul would like to put on record our sincere thanks for everyone’s continuous support and donations. The fight continues and we will succeed.
If you’d like to donate to our cause you can do so using the Go Fund Me link below.
Gateshead Soul Supporters Association