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Monday, 30 April, 2001, 18:37 GMT 19:37 UK
End of ills for Gills
Tony Pulis took Gillingham to promotion in his first season
Happier days: Pulis (c) celebrates promotion in 1996
Litigation casting a shadow over Gillingham's first-ever season in Division One has ended.

BBC Sport's Haydn Parry, a Gills season-ticket holder and author of the official account of the club's promotion last season, reflects on the damaging case.

Former Gillingham manager Tony Pulis took his 400,000 claim against the club to the High Court last week.

Pulis parted company with the Gills amid acrimony in 1999, just days after their Division Two play-off final loss to Manchester City.


He showed the Gillingham public what I had to suffer in the eight months prior to me dismissing him
  Scally on Pulis
He argued that he was owed team performance bonuses and had not been paid 195,000 in other bonuses due to him following the sale of three players.

After four days, his lawyers reached an out-of-court settlement of 75,000 in respect of that claim - but that's only the bald facts.

Those four days had proved revelatory as Pulis was called to the stand and questioned by the club's lawyers.

The court heard how Pulis allegedly threatened to blackmail chairman Paul Scally if he did not pay the money he felt he was owed.

Sigh of relief

It was alleged by the club that Pulis had obtained club documents which he believed outlined financial irregularities.

Gillingham's lawyers claimed he then used these as leverage to try to extract payment from Scally.

Just as the plot thickened, a settlement was reached - and, it's safe to say, most Gillingham fans breathed a sigh of relief.

Regardless of the truth or otherwise of the allegations, mud can stick and the case ended just as the national media were starting to get very interested.

Gillingham FC chairman Paul Scally
Scally: Not in a forgiving mood
Scally saw the settlement as a victory.

He said that preparations for the case had taken up the bulk of his time in the last six months, hampering his running of the club.

Outside the court, he took the opportunity to further criticise Pulis.

Scally said: "All he has succeeded in doing is showing himself in a very poor light in court.

"He also showed the Gillingham public what I had to suffer in the eight months prior to me dismissing him."

First attempt

Pulis had once been a hero for transforming Gillingham's fortunes upon his arrival at the club in 1995.

He took a team that had finished in the bottom three of Division Three and got them promoted at the first attempt.

By 1999, he had brought them within minutes of the First Division via that Wembley play-off final.

Gillingham player-manager Andy Hessenthaler
Hessenthaler's side have confounded the pundits
In court, the club's lawyers had presented a rather more unflattering picture, with allegations of blackmail and clandestine negotiations.

Pulis joined Bristol City shortly after being dismissed from Priestfield.

He now faces an uncertain future in the game, especially following another dismissal for gross misconduct, this time at Portsmouth.

Meanwhile, Gillingham, under player-boss Andy Hessenthaler, have confounded the "experts" by finishing in a creditable mid-table position in Division One.

They and their fans are now looking forward to watching next season out of the shadow of litigation.

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