Fed-up Gateshead fans express serious concern as up-for-sale club appoints new director

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Former Ilkeston chairman Nigel Harrop has been named as a new director at Gateshead.

The former Robins supremo is one of two new appointments at the International Stadium – with local businessman Trevor Clark also taking up a role as a director.

However, the club confirmed that they are still officially up for sale and the newly appointed directors will remain at the club until it is sold.

Harrop’s involvement has provoked concern amongst the Gateshead faithful, who remain keen to see former Rochdale chairman Chris Dunphy take control of the club.

Ilkeston were dissolved with Harrop at the helm in June 2017 after legal action was taken over a debt of £14,438 that was owed to Hire Intelligence, an office equipment loan company.

That followed a difficult period in the Derbyshire club’s history as players went on strike over unpaid wages ahead of a game at Workington and their license to play in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League was suspended ahead of the 2016/17 season.

That led to the postponement of their opening fixtures against Stafford Rangers, Whitby Town, Stourbridge and Spennymoor Town – meaning that a campaign that ended in relegation and the club folding didn’t get underway until the last week of August.

Harrop will now return to the game at Gateshead, although the Football Association and the National League declined to comment on either appointment when they were approached today.

The 65-year-old is the sole director of Gateshead FC Academy Limited – a company set up with Companies House under the name of Belper Football Academy Limited in March 2018.

The original move was made by “Football Intermediary” Michele Di Stefano – who has also confirmed that he is an advisor to Gateshead owner Varghese via his Twitter account.

The Echo understands that Gateshead have been handed a fine for “financial irregularities” and both Varghese and Cala are set to attend an FA hearing over the next week as part of an investigation into the latter’s involvement at the club.

Again, neither the FA nor the National League could provide comment on either action.

The news of Harrop’s appointment at Gateshead was met with disappointment from the Gateshead Soul Supporters Club.

Chairman Bernard McWilliams said “It feels that we have been lied to all of the way through.

“There seems to have no inclination to carry out what they said they would do and allow the supporters to lead the way forwards and find a new owner.

“There has always been suspicions that this would happen, and people like Harrop have always been in the background, but it is still very sad and extremely disappointing that something like this has happened.

“We still want what is best for Gateshead Football Club and we want what is best for the borough of Gateshead.

“We will take stock and decide what is the best way forwards for the supporters, because they are always the most important people in any football club.”

Gateshead will bring down the curtain on their National League campaign with a home game against Barrow on Saturday.