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Football School staff banned from Priestfield

Gillingham bar GMB members as boss plans to oust kids

Two school support staff have been banned from Gillingham FC as the club chair moves to kick a charity-run school for challenging kids our of the Priestfield Stadium, the GMB union revealed yesterday.

Club chair Paul Scally reportedly told the two GMB members they couldn’t come back after they refused to sign up to his plans to open a new school in competition with the current one.

The Gillingham FC Community Trust — which runs the school providing 15 places for 11 to 16-year-olds who have had behavioural problems related to social, emotional or mental health difficulties — said Scally, a trustee for the charity, had told the school to clear off by the end of October after it refused to pay “significantly” more for use of club facilities.

GFCCT said it would “contravene the correct morals of the charity, and divert funds to the benefit of the club in contravention of its charitable status.”

After he served the charity, which also tackles major social issues in Medway and Kent, with notice to quit, Scally invited all the staff to a meeting outlining his vision of a replacement school, said the GMB.

After the meeting the head teacher allegedly asked one member of staff if they would be moving over to the new school. When they refused to commit one way or the other, the head told them: “You are either with us or against us and if you are against us you should leave the building immediately,” according to the union.

The next day the union member was invited to a meeting with the head, only to find out it was actually Scally when they arrived. At the meeting the club chair banned the support worker from the stadium, said GMB, which later found out another worker had been barred.

GMB southern regional organiser Frank Macklin believes that Scally’s actions will have a “serious impact on the welfare and future of the vulnerable children.”

Macklin 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 Scaly.

"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."

The trust claim that 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.

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.

When contacted by the Star for comment, Gillingham said they would be making no comment at this moment in time and will release a statement in due course.

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