Gateshead players finally paid as Ben Clark makes emotional plea to owner Dr Ranjan Varghese
Gateshead's first-team players have finally been paid - but the club's under-19s are still awaiting wages for the last two months.
Heed owner Dr Ranjan Varghese claimed earlier this week that he would ensure salaries were paid for March, with staff having been forced to wait for their wages for a third month in a row.
And the Echo understands that some players were paid this morning by the cash-strapped club.
However, the Under-19s have not been paid for the last two months. The Heed youngsters – who compete in the Northern Alliance’s Premier Division and the National League Under-19 Alliance League – have held several meetings with the club's financial advisor Joseph Cala regarding the situation but are yet to find a resolution.
Coach Simon Johnson told the Echo: “It’s nothing short of a disgrace to be honest. The boys have been paid late ever since they came into the club at the start of the season.
“They are still awaiting pay from February and March and they only got January’s in early March.
“The lads have asked him (Cala) when they will be paid and he’s telling them things, but it’s not being carried out.
“It’s far from ideal and again, like the first-team, there have been so many promises made about money being released, but they are still waiting.”
Meanwhile, a visibly emotional first-team manager Ben Clark has urged Varghese to “put the club first” and complete a deal with prospective buyer Chris Dunphy.
Staff released an explosive statement condemning the actions of Varghese and Cala and asking them to sell the National League play-off contenders to former Rochdale chairman Dunphy.
Dunphy is still awaiting an exclusivity agreement signed by Varghese and a suitable witness allowing him to conduct due diligence and continue talks with the Heed owner – who is currently on business in Shanghai.
An emotional Clark told the Echo: “I’ve had some great times at this club, and it means everything to me.
“I am not businessman, but it seems so simple what they are being asked to do.
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“I got involved with the deal on Wednesday and it’s now in Joe and Ranjan’s hands.
“Between them hopefully we can get the right people in and I think we have met the criteria in getting Chris Dunphy and Bill Goodwin involved. I have met them, and they are two lovely blokes.
“It’s between the two parties now and they need to put the club first by getting the deal done.
“It’s not me being selfish here, it’s not about me or even the players. Players and managers come and go, but this club belongs to the supporters.
“I love this club, I want a clear vision for this club, and I want it to get its identity back because I think that has gone missing recently.
“I am emotional about the situation because the best times in my career have been here.
“It’s not about me, as long as this club is secure, that is all that matters to me.”
Clark has held two meetings with prospective owner Dunphy and former Dale director Goodwin and was impressed by what he heard from the duo.
“I had an hour or two with them and met their wives,” explained the Heed boss. “They like the vision of the club and it seems strange to me that we have potentially the perfect owners at the club, but we can’t get the deal done.
“There is nothing else we can do, but I enjoyed hearing how they saw the club moving forwards and I think it could excite the fans too.
“Ultimately, it’s Ranjan’s football club and he will do what he wants to do with it.
“As players and supporters, it’s difficult but we have to get our heads down and work together."