Former Gateshead chief Mike Coulson on challenges still facing fans after club put up for sale

Gateshead fans held a meeting on Thursday night.
Gateshead fans held a meeting on Thursday night.
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Former Gateshead general manager Mike Coulson has hailed the impact made by supporters after the club was put up for sale by owner Dr Ranjan Varghese.

The Hong Kong-based businessman and the club’s chief financial advisor have faced growing pressure after a chaotic season behind the scenes.

The National League play-off challengers have been under a transfer embargo since September and key players Scott Boden and Fraser Kerr have departed the club over the last six weeks, leaving manager Ben Clark to contend with a 16-man squad.

The situation led to a supporter-led meeting which took place on Thursday night as over 100 Gateshead fans discussed the best way forwards on and off-the-pitch.

A statement was released late on Friday afternoon confirming that Varghese had put the club up for sale with an asking price of just £1.
Coulson, who had almost a 30-year connection with Gateshead before quitting the club last month after growing disillusioned with the way it was being run, believes it is a positive step forward for the club.

He told the Echo: “This is a very good thing for Gateshead Football Club. The local community, supporters and suppliers have no confidence in the current owners.

“I don’t see a long-term future for the club with the current people at the helm.

“I am very impressed by the supporters. There are not many of them, but they are certainly loyal, and I think all credit to them.

“I think people at the club, including Joseph Cala, have underestimated the depth of feeling."

The decision to put the club up for sale is far from the end of the saga surrounding Varghese’s eventful nine-month spell in charge at the International Stadium.

New owners will need to be found, debts will need to be cleared and crunch talks with the National League will be on the agenda.

Coulson revealed that he was unaware of any interest in the club during Varghese’s reign, but expressed his belief that a consortium may be the more beneficial arrangement going forwards.

“I think there will be lots of new challenges,” he explained. “The first thing is to get the current owners out and make sure that all of the debts that have been spoken about over the last month or two have been paid.

“Someone will have to liaise with the National League to discuss releasing the bond to do that.

“Then, at the end of the season, give the current owners whatever is left from the bond that was paid last August.

“I wasn’t aware of any interest in the club during my time with the club, or after I left.

“But I think the club needs to look at what kind of model they want, and I would suggest a consortium arrangement would be beneficial, rather than the financial burden being on one person’s shoulders.”