Former Gretna manager Davie Irons says the SPL club has grown "too big, too quickly" following news that it plans to move into administration.
SPL bottom club Gretna face a battle for financial survival
The illness of owner Brooks Mileson has cut off his supply of cash, with the club stranded at the foot of the table.
It will mean a 10-point penalty and almost certain relegation from the SPL, while their players face the possibility of redundancy.
Irons told BBC Scotland's Sportsound that it was "a sad state of affairs".
Irons, who is now in charge at First Division club Morton, said the club had endured a turbulent period in the last six years.
Gretna find themselves in the SPL - through Brooks' own admission - two years too soon
Former Gretna manager
"To win back-to-back championships in three seasons, I think the club just ran out of control to an extent.
"Gretna find themselves in the SPL, through Brooks' own admission, probably two years too soon.
"With that came all the added problems of the ground situation and a squad which isn't really up for the challenge of the SPL."
Players' union chief executive Fraser Wishart said the Gretna squad remained in good spirits despite the uncertainty over their future.
"I'm guessing that there will be casualties but we hope that they are kept to a minimum," he said.
Motherwell, Dundee and Livingston have all called in administrators in recent years, with players losing their jobs.
Those sides survived the hard times and the SPL expects Gretna to stay in business at least until the end of the season.
Blair said the SPL expected Gretna to fulfil their fixtures
The league has stressed clubs in such positions can apply for loans recoverable from prize money.
League secretary Iain Blair said at the weekend: "What has happened over the last four or five years is clubs have been able to apply to the SPL for a loan during the season on the basis the loan is recovered from fees they'd get later on in the season.
"We very much expect Gretna to fulfil their fixtures and be there at the end of the season.
"I can't foresee, given how close we are to the end of the season, a mechanism which would see Gretna go out of business."
A statement from the club read: "In 2003, Brooks Mileson became the owner of Gretna Football Club.
"His financing has enabled the club to achieve unprecedented success in Scottish football.
"However, due to ill heath, he is currently not in a position to facilitate further funding.
"Following a board meeting on 7 March, the directors passed a resolution to place the club into administration and a formal notice of intention was filed in the Court of Session in Edinburgh this morning.
"We anticipate that administrators will be appointed in the next few days."
Gretna chairman Ron MacGregor praised the SPL for its financial help and said it had probably secured the club's short-term future.
The points deduction will not be triggered until an administrator is appointed and may not take place until after Tuesday's home game with St Mirren.
Gretna are currently 11 points adrift of their 11th-placed opponents.