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Five Aside: Di Maria a skillful crosser

Five Aside 14 hours ago
Read
 Posted by ESPN Staff
May 19, 2008

All staff at embattled SPL side Gretna laid-off

Gretna's administrators have axed the entire staff of the club including the remaining players.

The staff were summoned to an 11am meeting with administrator David Elliot of Wilson Field Ltd, where the news that money has run out was confirmed.

There remains a glimmer of hope for Gretna, who have been relegated from the Clydesdale Bank Premier League, with one potential buyer still looking at the club.

Director of football Mick Wadsworth, who loses his job, said: 'All the staff have been made redundant this morning.

'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.'

Gretna could still take their place in the Scottish Football League next season, if a quick sale can be achieved and the club can be revived.

A statement from Elliot confirmed: '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 statement continued: 'The staff and players have today been made redundant.

'The joint administrators thank all concerned for their support and wish everyone well in the future.'

Wadsworth, who had also been operating as caretaker manager since former boss Davie Irons quit to take charge at Morton, admitted today's announcement was a huge blow to followers of the club.

'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.'

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 on and so forth.

'So I think there are a lot of practical issues.

'One thing we've done, we've shown in the last month that we can make a fist of it, so at least we went out with a little bit of credit.'

Wilson Field, the firm which took over the club's finances in March, had set a May 17 deadline for offers.

None of the four parties who expressed an interest in the 2006 Scottish Cup runners-up came forward with a bid which could be accepted.

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

Having been admitted to the Scottish Football League in 2002, last year Gretna completed a hat-trick of title triumphs to join Scotland's elite clubs.

They savoured the run to Hampden in 2006 when they lost on penalties to Hearts in the Scottish Cup final.

But signs of financial limitations appeared during their season in the First Division, when they gradually reversed a policy of filling their team with senior professionals and started signing younger players.

An injury-time goal by James Grady clinched the title but this season they were forced to play home matches 75 miles away in Motherwell as their Raydale Park ground fell well short of SPL standards.

They struggled to attract decent crowds 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.

Manager Rowan Alexander left acrimoniously at the start of the season and replacement Davie Irons left for Morton in February after Mileson's illness brought their financial problems to a head.

Mileson left hospital in the same month but no money was forthcoming and the players endured further delays to their wages.

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 £4million mark, and with their stadium valued at £850,000 in the club accounts, hopes were not high that a buyer would come forward.

Gretna survived a number of crisis days with financial assistance from the SPL and relegation became inevitable after they were hit with a 10-point penalty for moving into administration.

They battled on with a team predominantly filled with youngsters, and missing a recognised striker, but finished on a high last Tuesday with a 1-0 victory over Hearts.

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