Thursday, March 13, 2008

Goodbye, Gretna. At least one Yank will miss you

The news out of Gretna keeps getting worse. Initially, of course, they were well overmatched in the SPL. Not long ago, we wrote about how a double relegation looked likely for them. Then, they went into administration because their financial backer decided not to fund the club anymore. And now, Gretna could be out of business by the weekend.

Later today, Gretna have to have the money together for their trip to Aberdeen, or else face closure of the club. The sum is $60,000, and they do not have it. Gretna officials asked the SPL to give them an advance on their eventual end-of-season bonus, but the SPL declined, basically citing them as a credit risk. In addition, the club owes former managers around $1.8 million, the taxman $700k, Motherwell is owed an unknown amount for ground rental, and the players have not been paid this month.

The situation is dire, but most Scottish football fans seem not to care. In fact, there is a reported general feeling that Gretna deserve this fate. Apparently, Gretna rankled some feathers as they motored up the leagues, and their current situation is seen as just deserts.

Of course, the man who should be drawing the ire of everyone involved is Brooks Mileson. Yes, Mileson backed the club as they moved up the ladder, but now he has abandoned them when he is most needed. It would seem that the long standing rumor that Mileson had a bet to take Gretna to the top flight is indeed true. I know that Mileson has been in the hospital lately, but he is out now and just not paying attention to the club anymore. Mileson should be shamed, but I would guess that he will not.

Think of all the hand-wringing this would cause south of the border. Imagine MK Dons, a team with whom Gretna share some similarities (free-spending, unpopular in league because of ownership), moving from League Two to the EPL in quick succession. Then, once the Dons got all the way up, they had a Derby-type season. If ownership subsequently pulled out, I think there would be a shitstorm of controversy in the London press. Instead, in Scotland (and the English press that covers the Scottish football), there is none of this.

It's too bad, really. Instead of having a dream that supporters around the world could wish to replicate--the team that came from nowhere to face the giants of its country--we get a whimper of an ending to be followed by a wake that no one will attend. Maybe the next time something this improbable happens, the inevitable demise will not take place so soon.

pics from and

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