Gretna F.C. have climbed the ranks of Scotland’s soccer divisions since their 2002 inception, but appear likely to come back down to earth as the club is mired in a financial crisis. ” Having tied down several players to £80,000-a-year contracts,” surmised the Guardian’s Scott Murray and Paul Doyle, “someone somewhere must have had a moment of clarity, realising such a business plan was not totally sustainable on average crowds of 17.”
The situation was exacerbated when bankroller Brooks Mileson’s 100-a-day smoking habit and love of coffee and Lucozade and chips perhaps in some way contributed to his hospitalisation in February (though hats off to the achievement of sucking down a century of tabs every day, a seriously impressive feat of time management and logistics; he’d need an al fresco office to do that legally). The seriously ill Mileson is no longer loaning them money and Gretna are all of a sudden totally jiggered.
And so this afternoon it all came to a head, with the club entering administration. The move means Gretna will automatically be penalised 10 points by the SPL, though that makes little difference as the team only had 16 in the first place and were heading back down anyway. More critically, the club face closure if they can’t raise the cash to pay wages and the cost of travelling to this weekend’s fixture at Aberdeen. “Unless Gretna get £30,000 by lunchtime tomorrow, the club is finished,” explained Mr Suit of Profiteer, Creditor & Vulture Ltd.
Should that occur, and Gretna fail to fulfil their season’s fixtures, a world of pain would open up for the SPL, as Gretna’s results from this season would be expunged. That doesn’t spell danger for struggling Kilmarnock and St Mirren, in 10th and 11th place respectively – there will be no relegation as Rule 66.6 of the Self Preservation League charter states “Nobody’s getting in if we’ve got anything to do with it” – but it will cause bedlam in the chase for the Euro Vase spot: fourth-placed Dundee United have taken just three points from three games against Gretna this season, while Motherwell, a point ahead in third, have taken nine. You’re already looking forward to our in-depth series on Scottish football litigation, aren’t you?