BRAD GALINSON has told fellow American owners in football: Don’t mess with tradition.
When he bought Gillingham last Christmas they became the 22nd team in the top four tiers under US control or influence.
Brad Galinson joined a growing number of Americans owning English and Welsh clubs
Yet Galinson wants to strike a balance between jazzing things up and protecting British football history.
And he was horrified by the proposed breakaway European Super League some of his compatriots on the other side of the Pond are still hellbent on creating.
Four of the six Premier League teams that wanted to join — Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United — are US-owned while there is significant American investment at Manchester City.
Galinson said: “It was dastardly Americans trying to ruin the English football pyramid system. It’s a horrible idea.
“The big six clubs wanted to get a franchise value that you get in the States. For example, NFL teams that don’t win are still worth three to four billion dollars minimum because they’re in a franchise.
“But I’d say their profit isn’t worth what you’d have lost, which is 150 years of football tradition.”
Galinson has been careful not to mess too much with Gillingham apart from improving the business and fans’ experience.
And he believes fusing the best of how they do things in the States with English football can be a match made in heaven.
Manchester United owner Avram Glazer, pictured with Sir Alex Ferguson, wanted to join the breakaway European Super League
He said: “In American sport there is so much dead time to fill because of time-outs and TV breaks.
“But realising sport is an entertainment business, it’s important to put on a show during those moments.
“At the Super Bowl there’s a stage rolled out at half time for a concert. They even have planes flying overhead.
“Half-time is only 15 minutes here and you can’t go too overboard or overly Americanise it because that’s cheesy — but a bit of entertainment makes people feel good.”
Galinson says the Welcome To Wrexham documentary has given the profile of “soccer” a boost on the other side of the Atlantic.
But the Gillingham owner rejected a chance to follow the Dragons’ Hollywood-star owners Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney into agreeing to feature his club in a fly-on-the-wall series.
He said: “You must take your hat off to Ryan and Rob for what they’re doing because it’s raising the audience and profile of League Two.
“Two things that have hit the psyche of the American people are Welcome To Wrexham and Ted Lasso. Everyone’s watching.
“Welcome To Wrexham is a great rags-to-riches story and Americans love those and Ted Lasso is heartwarming and funny in that an American has come to the UK.
“But I wasn’t keen when approached to do a documentary with Gillingham. Having been around television production, the thing I’m concerned about with documentaries, despite the distraction, is they’re not real, they’re scripted.
Wrexham owner Ryan Reynolds has raised the profile of League Two
“There’s always a protagonist, there’s always an antagonist, there’s always the jester and there’s always the mean guy.
“They take clips or have you say things in different ways and it becomes completely different to reality.
“Although you’ll forget the camera is there, if they want you to say something in a funny way, they’ll literally stop and say, ‘can you re-say that but smiling?’
“And it’s only after they edit it together, you realise they were just making the guy look like a patsy or whatever and I don’t want to expose Gillingham to that.”
Many of Galinson’s friends and family back home would have been forgiven for thinking he had lost control of his senses when he completed his Gillingham takeover.
The Kent club were rock bottom of League Two, had only scored six goals and not netted since October.
They looked like dead certs to crash out of the EFL after 103 years.
But today they travel to Doncaster top of the division with Galinson declaring: “We want to get into the Championship.”
The businessman — who made his money through real estate — said: “There was trepidation when we closed the deal — but I always believed in the potential because it’s a pretty big and unique English club.”
Galinson liked that Gillingham are the only EFL club in Kent, have a catchment area of 1.2million and own their own ground.
As soon as he got the keys to the Priestfield Stadium from previous owner Paul Scally, he did not pussy-foot about.
He recruited experienced manager Kenny Jackett as director of football.
And Galinson also brought in a club legend, former player and two-time boss Andy Hessenthaler, as head of recruitment. Hess was player-boss from 2000-2004 when the club were in the second tier.
Neil Harris is doing a great job with Gillingham top of League Two
With former Millwall and Cardiff boss Neil Harris at the helm, he has a formidable senior three-man management team and Galinson said: “In all my businesses I’ve recruited good people who’re smarter than me. They whipped us into shape and saved us from relegation.
“Gillingham can definitely be a Championship club without doing much differently. Even the stadium today can support a second-tier club.
“Can we be a Premier League side? Yes, of course. I point to our giant catchment area. There aren’t a lot of clubs like ours outside the top division.
“In the top tier, there are teams with smaller catchment areas than ours so the sky’s the limit. But the Championship must be our aim. The club has been there before and can do so again.”