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Je Ne Regretna Rien

The story of Scottish side Gretna FC's remarkably quick rise and fall looks like ending in liquidation amid estimated debts of $16 million. It's a cautionary tale for small clubs embracing rich benefactors with grandiose ambitions.
Six years ago, Gretna (a village close to the English border with a population of 2,705) moved from English non-league soccer to play in Scotland's fourth tier. Four years ago, the club went full-time, bankrolled by businessman Brooks Mileson, and began its ascent up the Scottish senior divisions. Two years ago, it became the first third-tier team to reach the Scottish Cup Final, but lost to Hearts of Midlothian on penalty kicks. One year ago, it was promoted to the Scottish Premier League, and that was when the problems began.
Gretna's 2,200-seat stadium, Raydale Park, wasn't big enough for the SPL, so Gretna had to share with Motherwell, 70 miles away. The chain-smoking Mileson fell ill and suddenly stopped putting money into the club, which entered administration - it was deducted 10 points and unpaid players left for other teams. Gretna was relegated, then last week was demoted all the way back down to the bottom division for being unable to guarantee that it will be able to complete next season's schedule. Now the team is expected to resign from the league completely, or likely face expulsion. The administrators say Raydale Park will be sold to pay off creditors, and the club will cease to exist. Unless there's a spare franchise up for grabs in the MISL.

Read the whole story at Times Online »

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