Fenty the Root Cause
I will probably be going against the grain with what I say here but sacking Slade isn’t the answer, the issue runs much, much deeper than that. In the same way the EU Referendum provoked all kinds of discontents, unhappiness, anger at the establishment and bundled them all together that resulted in a Brexit vote. The current plight at GTFC is showing 17 years’ worth of bad decisions, terrible PR, laughable sideshows and relegation after relegation that have taken their toll on the fans at our beloved club and there is a burning desire for change. Russell Slade is playing the role of David Cameron and John Fenty as Tony Blair. We are fed up and the threat of relegation back to Conference is even more concerning now since we now know the horrors it would entail.
John Fenty has a stranglehold upon the club, he has £2 million worth of benign loans and £2m worth of shares in the club and that is just the financial side of things. He has spent 17 years becoming irrevocably entwined with the club and has got us in such a position that means if he were to pull the plug and call in his loans the club would go with him, that is an extremely precarious position to be in.
We are completely reliant upon a man who has shown time and time again that he is incapable of making consistently good decisions. He has made one good managerial appointment in 17 years, and he stumbled across that as Paul Hurst and Rob Scott were 4th or 5th on his list and Scott was more of a loose cannon than Donald Trump on steroids. Once Scott left, after an alleged altercation with the Nuneaton assistant manager, Hurst showed he was a truly excellent manager and is currently showing that he is better than anyone at GTFC ever considered he might be.
The issue with Fenty is that he never realises when he has something worth holding on for. Hurst wanted a strength and conditioning coach quite famously and he had watched over as the best players from our promotion side had vanished due to being offered derisory contracts as a result of the budget he was given.
He then proceeded to make a succession of nasty comments about Hurst in Marcus Bignot’s unveiling such as he’s gone to “what he perceives as better things” which just shows how blind Fenty was to the whole situation.
It is my opinion that Fenty never considered that it was the restrictions that he placed on Hurst that drove him away to a job that at the time was seemingly a bad move. Shrewsbury were doomed and he is working a minor miracle in getting them to where they are now.
Given the job that Hurst had done with us it would be naïve to think that he wouldn’t have gone on to what would have definitely been better things (such as managing Rotherham or Sheffield Wednesday) but to move onto the footballing leviathan of Shrewsbury just stank of malfeasance on our behalf from a footballing perspective.
Let’s now look at his fantastic ability to misjudge a situation. I’ve already touched on him mis-judging the Hurst situation but that is representative of a much greater issue. At the moment Lincoln City are the anthesis of us as a football club. They had a great cup run (something that’s never happened in my lifetime to us) and got new investment because of their chairman being open, welcoming and seeing what’s best for the club.
They seized on the opportunity of a promotion and sold 6500 season tickets. We limped past 3000 on our return to the league. I have said before there was opportunity to get season tickets sent out the day after the play off final and have them put through people’s doors in Grimsby and Cleethorpes and capitalise on the feel-good factor.
He could have then given Hurst a big budget and we could have pressed for consecutive promotions, Hurst is the only manager in my lifetime who has proved that he can be trusted with a budget.
But no, we let things go stale, let key players leave, get a feeling of “who are all these players signing for OUR club” as it became McKeown’s, Pearson’s, Gowling’s, Arnold’s, Podge’s, Tait’s, Toto’s and Omar’s but we ended up with a team full of other people’s players.
That was a huge opportunity missed. He then made the catastrophic error of voting to allow B teams into the Checkatrade trophy, that infuriated most fans before the season had even started and in pure John Fenty styled he had singlehandedly removed all of the feel-good factor that should have been bubbling over on day one.
This epitomised his blindness as a chairman, he made the decision on “financial” grounds but lost almost all of his residual credibility and also the money as we sold fewer season tickets and significantly fewer people came to the games against Leicester U23s etc. It was a disaster on a huge scale.
Impossible to work with
Fenty also has an inability to work with other people, whether it be investors in the club or what he calls “enabling developers” for the new stadium. He is a complete and utter control freak. In 2010, Mike Parker invested £500,000 worth of shares into the club with the intention of taking us from the Conference and building us into a true footballing heartland and work with Fenty. By September of 2011 he had decided to remove himself from the operation and had offered £500,000 worth of his shares to the Mariners Trust in order to make sure he severed ties with the club but didn’t hand back control to John Fenty. The ins and outs of that particular shambles are and never will be fully known but the only logical conclusion that you can reach given his sudden decision to leave after such a short period is that Fenty was impossible to work with, this has been proved many times. He falls out with almost everyone who tries to help. I’ve already explained that he fell out with Paul Hurst and it is evident to me at least that he fell out with Mike Parker. The two people in his 17-year tenure who were worth keeping onside walked away with barely any word, the common denominator, John Fenty.
I haven’t had the opportunity to go deep into the consequences of his poor managerial appointments culminating in relegation after relegation or this current rot that we are in or the fiasco of the recent fans’ forum but sadly events such as that aforementioned forum are becoming more frequent every time he adds fuel to his own anti-Fenty fire. As I said last week, the problem is almost unsolvable unless someone has £4 million lying around then there’s nothing we can do. So, for the moment we can just sit and hope for some “football fortune” …
words Shaun Bennett Grimsby Town fan