'These people are turning football into a joke': Gateshead crisis reached Houses of Parliament as MP slams owners

Gateshead's situation has been raised in the House of Commons
Gateshead's situation has been raised in the House of Commons
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The crisis at Gateshead reached new levels this week as local MP Ian Mearns brought up their issues in the House of Commons.

The National League club are currently without a home stadium or training facility after being banished from the International Stadium as Gateshead Council took action over an unpaid rent bill.

Popular captain Scott Barrow remains the only contracted player at the club – but he will depart when his deal expires in June.

A whole host of club staff, including manager Ben Clark and general manager Alisha Henry, were controversially sacked via email and text message by owner Dr Ranjan Varghese last week.

The off-field situation took another turn earlier this week as the club failed to pay former players and staff on time and newly appointed director Nigel Harrop is expected to meet with the National League on Friday to discuss a number of financial issues.

The Football Association have also confirmed that an investigation into the involvement of controversial financial advisor Joseph Cala remains “ongoing”.

Mearns – Labour MP for the constituency of Gateshead and chair of the all-party group for football supporters – brought up his local club in the commons on Thursday afternoon as part of a discussion on the fit and proper person test for club directors.

Addressing Leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsom, Mearns congratulated Liverpool and Spurs on their Champions League heroics before turning his focus to Gateshead.

He said “In other parts of the country, football supporters are struggling with the dreadful ownership of their clubs.

“At Newcastle United, where I am a season ticket holder, we have Mike Ashley and have to put up with everything that he delivers to us.

“Across the river in my own constituency, we have the situation at Gateshead football club, where Dr Ranjan Varghese ​and his financial adviser Joe Cala have sacked all the staff, including all the playing staff apart from one who has a contract that runs to June.

“The club is now talking about leaving the ground, which is owned by the local authority, and moving somewhere else.

“May we have a debate in Government time about the football authorities’ fit-and-proper-person test for being a club director?

“Frankly, these people are turning football into a joke.”

Leadsom replied to Mearns asking the Labour MP to raise the subject at a Department for Digital, Media and Sport (DCMS) oral questions session on Thursday 23rd May.