Fan groups express concerns over Joseph Cala involvement at Gateshead after Portsmouth and Morecambe experience

Fraser Kerr.
Fraser Kerr.
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The Football Supporters Federation and Supporters Direct have expressed their concern over the current situation at Gateshead.

Supporters of the National League play-off contenders have become increasingly frustrated with events at the International Stadium and a meeting has been set up to discuss the best way forward.

Heed captain Scott Barrow was the subject of a bid from fellow top-seven rivals Harrogate Town on Wednesday afternoon.

That was rejected by the club’s chief financial advisor Joseph Cala, but Barrow revealed that he had been offered to numerous clubs by an agent working for the Italian-American businessmen.

There has also been speculation that the club has not paid employees this month, but the Echo understands that this is not true.

Key defender Fraser Kerr was sold to North East neighbours Hartlepool United on Wednesday and manager Ben Clark confirmed that he was unaware of the deal until hours before it was completed.

The recent departures of Kerr and top goalscorer Scott Boden have left Clark with just 14 outfield players in his squad for their trip to Aldershot Town.

The squad was further weakened as backup goalkeeper Mark Foden joined Blyth Spartans on an emergency short-term loan, although he can be recalled at any point during his temporary spell at Croft Park.

Clark has been unable to strengthen his paper-thin squad since succeeding Steve Watson in January as Gateshead remain under a transfer embargo imposed on them by the National League in September.

Club owner Dr Ranjan Varghese, Cala and Clark himself attended a meeting with National League officials at the International Stadium on Friday, and Varghese released a statement after saying that it had been positive, although the embargo will not be lifted until Gateshead can provide a realistic budget and cashflow, which will be reviewed before a final decision is made.

Cala has become a controversial figure within the International Stadium, and he is the subject of the concern from The Football Supporters Federation and Supporters Direct.

The two bodies issued a statement confirming that they will attend the meeting and offered their assistance to Gateshead supporters.

The statement read: “The Football Supporters Federation and Supporters Direct are concerned about the involvement of Joseph Cala at Gateshead.

“We are aware of his background and attempts to enter English football at both Portsmouth and Morecombe where local fans questioned his motives.

“Our organisation supports football fans across the country and will offer help and assistance to concerned Gateshead fans, and we look forward to attending their meeting this Thursday.”

Gateshead supporters can attend the meeting, which gets underway at 7pm at Pelaw Social Club on Thursday March 7.