Club Statement – John Fenty

A statement from John Fenty

After careful consideration and consultation with my family, fellow Board members and colleagues at North East Lincolnshire Council, I have made a conscious decision to step back from the day-to-day operational involvement at the Football Club.

Going forward Philip Day will be chairing meetings and will also become the nominated spokesperson for the Club, with a special remit to lead on discussions of relocation for the Mariners to a new home and Community Stadium at Freeman Street.

The rest of our hard-working Board of Directors have unanimously supported this approach, and together with the able support of the Chief Executive Ian Fleming, they will continue to ensure that the Club is always at the heart of the community, a lasting legacy with ambitions to play at the highest level possible.

Ian Holloway (Ollie) with his vast experience intends to drive the Club forward both on and off the field, having special responsibilities as the Director responsible for all football operations. He will have more freedom and autonomy to shape on-the-field matters than any other manager within the English Football League (one foot on the training ground and one in the boardroom). The Board has signed off on our largest playing budget for next season at this level, although it’s fair to say there will be several bigger spenders in the division.

Together with Ollie’s special qualities and your fantastic support, we have never been so optimistic for the Club’s future.

In the meantime, I will continue to support the Football Club financially from afar, continuing to underpin forecasted shortfalls, in ensuring a competitive playing budget. This philosophy has stood the Club in sound stead financially for a good number of years. However, I will still attend the occasional Board meeting as majority shareholder.

Becoming the Deputy Leader for North East Lincolnshire Council has added complications and time constraints. This much-reduced involvement at the Club will enable me to focus especially on a very important role with the Council.

I first joined the Board of Directors in early 1999 and then only 10 months later in a clean a sweep, a new Board took over promising premiership football. Subsequently, I returned to the Board in the middle of 2001, only to inherit the most financially challenging circumstances. The Club had racked up large debts, an overdraft at its limit, significant HMRC debts and substantial past director loans. All of these have been completely paid off.

We have always wished for much more on the field but sadly football fortune hasn’t been kind. Had we not been second so often in the numerous visits to Wembley and at the Millennium Stadium during the last 14 years, the record would look very different.

Nevertheless, I am extremely proud that the Club has never entered the uncertainty of administration, with no certain outcome, an achievement for which we should all hold our heads high. This could not have been possible without fantastic sponsors and fans sticking with the Club through thick and thin. Supporting GTFC is not always easy and each and every one of you has my sincere respect and heartfelt appreciation for being there when most needed.

During all of that time, it was not about ownership or control, but being the best custodian I could be. Priding myself on being accessible, open and honest has been important to me, notwithstanding that from time to time it has landed me in hot water, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

As a strong supporter of the Mariners Trust from inception and recognising the importance of the fans to have a voice and pivotal role in the running of the Club, I would like to thank its members and especially Dave Roberts who has been a large part of the glue that has made the organisation such a great success.

It would be remiss if I didn’t give a special thank you to Graham Rodger for his fine leadership of the Grimsby Town Sports and Education Trust, in delivering many thousands of hours in the community each year. Importantly this work is helping to transform young people’s lives with positive engagement. The professional game has an opportunity to enthuse those that otherwise would not engage.

I have lost count of how many times mums and dads have written/told me how their children have been positively influenced by the many programs that the Club operates! Making that kind of difference has always cheered me up no end.

I’m incredibly proud to have been able to represent our historic Football Club in this way. It has been an honour and privilege to be at the helm of the Club throughout this period. Whilst I am not vanishing into thin air and will still attend games, I think the Club is in a great place where I can, therefore, step back and leave the day-to-day running in the capable hands of Philip, Ollie, Ian and the remaining board members.

Finally Up the Mighty Mariners !!

John Fenty


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