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Steve Watson to decide on future as Gateshead owner reveals administration and liquidation talks

Steve Watson
Steve Watson

Steve Watson is set to decide on his future today – as owner Richard Bennett admitted he had thought about folding the club after a takeover deal collapsed.

Bennett, co-owner with his wife Julie, announced this week that a deal with a Singapore-based businessman was off after the would-be buyer couldn’t satisfy National League criteria.

Gateshead will revert back to a part-time model next season, as they look to cut their costs with the Bennetts unable to put any more of their own money into the running of the club.

The future of manager Steve Watson is set to be resolved in the next 24 hours, with the club having to give details of their budget to the National League by close of business today.

"We need the manager's situation resolved within the next 24 hours as the budget needs to go in," said Bennett. "Once that situation is sorted we'll press on with all the other tasks in hand.

"I really like working with Steve, he's a great manager, very ambitious and we don't want to set him up to fail but we do want to try and retain him here in the North East as he's a great ambassador."

That there is still a club for someone to manage looked in doubt at one point over the weekend.

“Myself and Julie and (managing director) Brian (Waites) had some chats about the future of the club,” Bennett told the North East Football Podcast.

“I’m not going to deny, administration and liquidation were certainly part of that process because we’re at a point where we can’t put any more money in.

“We didn’t want to be the ones to fold the club and we felt maybe we could operate on a reduced cost.

“We did seriously think about folding as an option. The difficulty about football is it’s fluid, it changes a lot. You might have some unexpected expenditure. Those sorts of things do go through your mind, and you’re thinking if we’re going to be on a reduced budget, will fans stay away and go and support teams who are flying high on a higher budget.

“All these come into your mind but the most important thing that came out of all of this is that we want Gateshead to continue. we feel a deal will be done at some point and regardless we feel the fans deserve a football club and we want to try and save that.”

Bennett remains hopeful a new buyer can be found, but in the meantime will try and get the club on a stronger financial footing.

And he has called on Newcastle and Sunderland fans – as well as the people of Gateshead – to get behind their cause.

“I still remain optimistic that someone will come in,” he added.

“Gateshead is lucky with its demographic. What we want is Newcastle and Sunderland supporters to see Gateshead as their second club and we’ll continue to try and put deals together to attract those to come and follow us.”