Crisis club Gateshead appoint new director - and he has history with controversial Joseph Cala

Gateshead have appointed a new director for the third time in three weeks – and he has worked previously with the club’s controversial financial advisor Joseph Cala.

Monday, 20th May 2019, 8:08 pm
Gateshead have appointed a new director - who has history with Joseph Cala

New Heed director Stefano Franciosa was involved at Italian Serie D/A club Calcio Lecco 1912 when Cala took control of the club known as I Blucelesti for a short spell in 2012.

According to his newly created Companies House record, 46-year-old Franciosa is currently living in the United States and further investigation has shown that he is currently president of the GPS North Shore organisation in Massachusetts.

But it is their time in Italy that will cause scepticism amongst the Heed faithful.

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The UEFA A Licence holder was appointed as Calcio Lecco coach by Cala in July 2012 after working at Finnish club Ekenäs Idrottsförening.

However, the supporters took issue with Cala’s presence and quickly called for his removal from the club.

In an article that appeared on in August 2012, Cala demanded €100,000 to leave Lecco when he was confronted by the club’s supporters and local media.

According to the article, Cala appeared alongside Franciosa at a press conference and told a number of journalists and supporters “Do you want me out?

“Ok, I’m prepared to go in return for 100 thousand euros which you must pay today.

“In a week it will be about 300 thousand, because in the next few days I will have other expenses to cover.”

Cala was pressed on whether he would sell the club to the Lecco supporters in a move that has eerie echoes of the current situation surrounding the Gateshead Soul group’s bid to take control of their club.

The Italian businessman said “It is pointless talking. You have no money.

“If you want you can get together; the 30 ultras plus you lot here, put in five, 10 thousand euros each and buy the club.

“Do it, I don't want one more Euro.

“I reiterate that I agree it’s the right thing for me to go, but give back to me the money I’ve already put in.”

Cala had already caused controversy earlier in the same year when took control of Serie B club Salernitana for just 11 days.

His spell in charge was cut short due to a “non-compliance agreement” as Cala failed to pay bills on time – despite promising a large investment of over €40m with the aim of helping the club back into Serie A.

He has already caused controversy with his involvement at Gateshead and remains the subject of an FA investigation - although it is believed that it is approaching its conclusion.

It is unclear what role Franciosa will take at Gateshead as they head into a critical few days.

Along with Heed owner Dr Ranjan Varghese, he is now one of only two directors following the departure of Nigel Harrop and Trevor Clark last week.

It is understood that the club has debts of just under £100,000 and have been given a deadline of Wednesday to clear them by the National League.

The fund set up by the Gateshead Soul supporters group received an unexpected boost on Tuesday as Boreham Wood chairman Danny Hunter contacted to offer £2000 to the cause.

Hunter’s pledge was offered on the understanding that the National League approve Gateshead Soul’s bid to buy the club.

The Soul fund currently stands at around £47,000 and they issued a plea for further financial support in an emotional statement released on Monday morning.