Save our Club! Gateshead fans plan protest after Barnet game over controversial ownership

Gateshead supporters are planning a “peaceful and meaningful” protest that will take place in the aftermath of tomorrow’s home game against Barnet.

By Mark Carruthers
Friday, 08 March, 2019, 08:52
Gateshead fans at last night's meeting.

Details of the protest were amongst a number of subjects covered at a meeting of Gateshead supporters last night.

It has been a difficult season for the National League club as off-field issues have threatened to disrupt a remarkable season on the pitch.

The Heed currently sit in the National League play-off places, despite functioning under the constraints of a transfer embargo and with the smallest squad in the division.

The controversial ownership of Dr Ranjan Varghese and the presence of the club’s chief financial advisor Joseph Cala has overshadowed one of the stories of North East non-league football this season.

That pressed Gateshead supporters into action and last night’s meeting saw a number of positive moves initiated.

Backed by the Football Supporters Federation, Heed supporters discussed several avenues to explore over the coming weeks and months.

Supporters pledged to give their full support to Heed manager Ben Clark and his side during Saturday’s game with Barnet as they look to give their unlikely play-off push a further boost.

But full-time will see a peaceful protest take place outside of the International Stadium as supporters voice their displeasure at the ownership of their club.

Gateshead supporter Bernard McWilliams expressed his satisfaction at the outcome of the night.

He told the Echo: “I am absolutely over the moon at the show of support tonight.

“It is one of those things where you never know the level of support that is going to turn up, so to see over 100 people here is fantastic.

“You don’t want to drive things yourself, you want to put ideas out there that people want to get behind and this seems to be what they want.

“This is a collective effort from Gateshead supporters, and we need to keep this momentum going.

“I am confident that we have enough support to build on a good start that we have made tonight.

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“The simple fact is we want to be positive with the team, they deserve it for the efforts that they have put in this season.

“But after the game we want our feelings to be known.”

Heed Army podcast host Dave Gaddess was keen to stress that supporters taking part in Saturday’s protest are not looking to cause issues but wish to show their concern at recent events at the club.

He said: “It’s been very positive and it’s nice to see that people want to get involved.

“It is sad that it has come to this, but it’s probably overdue.

“The support is there and hopefully we can show that in a peaceful and meaningful protest on Saturday.

“We aren’t here to cause problems or cause trouble, we are here to show that we are concerned about the direction that the club is heading.”

A key part of the evening came as Football Supporters Federation spokesman Michael Brunskill took to the floor to discuss the different options that were on offer to supporters.

Gateshead-born Brunskill explained the role that the Federation could play to give their backing to the Heed fans over the coming weeks and months.

After the meeting he praised the togetherness shown by the Gateshead supporters.

He told the Echo: “Coming in here, into a club that has a chaotic environment where fans aren’t sure what is going on in the background, there is a worry that it translates into factions and infighting.

“But that was not the case. Fans are unified, positive and passionate and that was on display during the duration of the meeting.

“They want to show their support to the players and manager, but they want to show their feelings towards the way the club is being ran.

“As a Federation, we will give supporters their backing.

“Sometimes out of these negative situations, there is an opportunity to make something positive happen and the energy and passion to make that happen is here.

“The fans in the room grasped that and I think that people will hear a lot more about what Gateshead fans are doing.”