Gretna pin hopes on late bid

Gretna caretaker boss Mick Wadsworth admitted “it’s the end of the line” for staff who fought to save the club as he and the entire workforce at Raydale Park were made redundant.

Gretna could still be rescued before entering liquidation but their current cash supplies have run out.

Administrators had no option at a morning meeting but to announce that everyone left at the club, including players, faced immediate redundancy.

Administrator David Elliot of Wilson Field Ltd confirmed there remains a glimmer of hope for Gretna, who have been relegated from the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.

A consortium, led by Glasgow businessman Paul Davies, are still believed to be looking at taking on the club.

Talks with the Scottish Football League were ongoing this afternoon, with the consortium eager for assurances Gretna would be admitted to the Irn-Bru First Division.

But Wadsworth, who was also Gretna’s director of football, gave a gloomy view of events.

He said: “We’re told there is still one interested party, but because there are no funds at the moment to carry on then everybody has been made redundant.

“So the assumption from that, for most of us, is that it’s the end of the line regarding employment at Gretna.”

Wadsworth believes Gretna will face a struggle to get up and running in time to feature in next season’s SFL.

“I think it will be right to say it’s against the clock, because the SFL will have to work on their fixtures,” said Wadsworth.

“If Gretna are not there they have to look at the numbers in the league.

“So I think there are a lot of practical issues.”

If Gretna fold, Airdrie will be promoted to the First Division and Stranraer will climb into the Second Division, forcing the SFL to seek another club from outside its ranks to join the Third Division.

Wadsworth admitted today’s announcement was a huge blow to followers of Gretna.

“It’s a big shock to the people that have been here a lot longer than I have,” he said.

“It’s a shock to the players that have got contracts, not only for the rest of the season but for next season.

“And it’s a shock I’m sure to the local people for whom the club is very, very important. For that group of supporters and certainly the workforce that are local, it’s very, very difficult.”

Administrator Elliot confirmed in a statement from Wilson Field: “A prospective purchaser has contacted us this morning and confirmed that he is still in negotiations with the SFL with a view to obtaining entry into the First Division.”

The deadline for offers for the club had passed on Saturday, without an acceptable bid being tabled.

David Mundell, the Scottish Conservative MP for Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale, has met with SFL chief executive David Longmuir in the past week.

Mundell said: “I believe there is still a chance that Gretna Football Club can be saved – providing the club does not go into liquidation. If that happens there would be no automatic admission to the Scottish Football League.”

Gretna chairman Ron MacGregor told BBC Radio Scotland: “The negotiation is still in progress. We know the bidder who we have been talking to us is very, very keen to complete the deal.”

MacGregor also suggested talk of Gretna’s death have been “greatly exaggerated”.

The club struggled to complete the SPL season after owner Brooks Mileson withdrew his funding in February when he contracted a brain infection.

The Englishman bankrolled Gretna’s rapid rise from the Third Division to the SPL to the tune of around £8million, but he has maintained a public silence on the club’s plight after being released from hospital.

Gretna survived until the end of their season after being given cash advances by the SPL, but administrator Elliot always warned the money would then run out.

They struggled to attract decent crowds this season and the 431 people who watched them play Inverness at Fir Park in April are likely to remain part of the lowest SPL crowd forever.

The club went into administration on March 12 and 28 employees, including nine first-team players, were made redundant two weeks later.

It emerged their debt was nearing the £4m (€5m) mark, with their stadium valued at £850,000 (€1m) in the club accounts.

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