Nandos, Leeds Castle and roundabouts: Gillingham chairman Brad Galinson on life in Kent

  • Tap to watch interview with Gillingham chairman Brad Galinson speaking to ITV Meridian's Joe Coshan

'Tinpot' - One of Brad Galinson’s favourite British words he’s picked up since moving from Florida to the Medway Towns to take over as Chairman of Gillingham.

It could’ve been a word used by rival fans to describe the Gills in the past, but the American owner has already made plenty of changes around the club to lose that unwanted title, with more plans in the pipeline.

To start with, new signings. Players like Shadrach Ogie and Scott Malone that some supporters have said are “too good to be playing at this level”, have been enticed by the project at Priestfield and are impressing supporters on social media.

And the owner admits he wants to keep his transfer business and player wages sustainable while he grows the club.

He told ITV Meridian: “Just as important as the position and the athleticism of the people we brought in, it was how do they fit in the dressing room?

"We actually said no to very, very talented players that we didn’t think would fit into the dressing room, so I’m not surprised that it looks like it’s gelling together and I’m very happy."

Meanwhile, off the pitch, there’s been lots of changes to the matchday experience for fans. From new food, to a pre-season tour to Lake Como, Italy - miles away from the typical trips to Dover and Maidstone United.

New LED advertising boards that surround the pitch, which other clubs advised him against installing, are one of the key additions to generating income for the club.

“The benefits of being the only EFL club in Kent,” Brad said.

“Football clubs at top level and low level all said [to me] you can’t make any money in low leagues with LEDs [advertising], not a single person recommended it. One of the things that’s really special about the Gills is that our catchment area is so big, and we’re the only English football club around, and we’ve just about sold out.

“So we’ve disproved the theory that League Two football can't make money from advertising, which is really exciting because our media dollars and exposure is so much lower.”

“When you get clubs sharing smaller areas and there’s nine clubs, it’s much harder to break through and be THE English football club, so hopefully we show everyone enough pride that they want to support the club and the community,” Mr Galinson added.

Digital LED advertising boards gifted to Gillingham FC from Man City

The Gills were gifted their second-tier LED boards from treble-winning Manchester City, bringing a slice of the Premier League champions to Priestfield.

“I think they were apologising for 1999 when they gave them to us," Galinson joked, referencing the year City beat Gillingham on penalties at Wembley in the First Division play-off final.

"No it was a very nice gesture from them and hopefully that karma will brush off on the pitch.”

ME7 is a far cry from the Sunshine State, but apart from the weather, the chairman says he’s loving being out in the countryside, but when asked what his favourite place in the South East is?


“We try to get out into the Garden of England, we went to Leeds Castle and loved that. It’s a beautiful countryside, especially now, in the winter time it can be a bit chilly and we’re grateful for the sunny skies back in Florida.

Leeds Castle is one of the landmarks the Galinson family have visited.

“The driving has been tough for us to get used to, not only are we driving on the opposite side, but roundabouts! I’ve only got in one accident in three months, which is pretty good I think.”

From Ryan Reynolds & Rob McElhenney at Wrexham, to Tom Brady at Birmingham City, to Todd Boehly at Chelsea, the Galinson’s are on an increasing list of trans-atlantic investors that have taken a keen interest in English football.

“I think Ted Lasso and Wrexham sort of opened the eyes of Americans to English football. It’s funny because what I found this is that growing up in America, you have the NFL and baseball, which have these closed leagues.

“So the Superbowl comes and everyone thinks, ‘Oh, this is such a big deal. Who's gonna win the Superbowl?’ But really, it doesn't matter who wins the Super Bowl, they all split the money evenly, There's no financial incentive, there's no relegation, there's no promotion.

“I think when Americans sort of pay attention to English football, which you know, we started to do, it's a completely different level of sort of emotion and enthusiasm.”

USA flag with Gillingham badge features prominently in Gillingham's Rainham End

But new investment often comes with great expectations for immediate success. Despite Gillingham winning their first three matches of the season, which included a cup upset against a Southampton side recently relegated from the Premier League, Galinson insists he has some patience.

He said: “I think the expectations, honestly, are to play competitively and make the community proud. We should be in the top seven. But you know, if it doesn't happen this season, it will happen next season.

“I think everyone wants to win and wants to be top seven and I think that I think the squad is good enough and hungry enough and proud of each other to work together to get there.”