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A Buyers Market!

By: Bill Osborne
Date: 07/05/2002

Paul Groves, Grimsby Town's manager has some hard decisions to make in the coming week. Football clubs have a week to announce their retained list and with the ITV Digital fiasco many clubs are still unsure of their final listing.

In Grimsby Town's case there are three players in particular whom Groves is awaiting decisions from. Michael Boulding, Simon Ford and Terry Cooke, are all reported to have been made offers that they are thinking about.

According to the statement by club chairman, Peter Furneaux, Boulding and Ford have been offered substantially better terms to stay with the club but both have decided to think over the offers made to them.

The loss of Boulding and Ford would be a blow to the club and supporters alike, but Town can no longer rely on TV income to help shore up the wages bill and they still have to find ways to pay off the previous season's losses. They should not therefore increase the current offer to keep them at the club. If they are not prepared to sign, then the club should let them go without offering another penny.

With almost 25% of all footballers in England and Scotland expected to be released, due to the lack of TV money, clubs like Grimsby cannot allow players to name their own price. Some clubs are releasing key players simply to cut their wages bill and those players will have to accept massive wage cuts if they wish to remain in the game.

For clubs like Grimsby, this can be to their advantage. There will be a very wide selection of players available at cut-price wages and Paul Groves will be aware of that. Clubs who have a small budget will be able to obtain players that they previously could not afford and players who are not prepared to give their full, will find there are other players eager to take their place and might find themselves in the dole queue.

It is a buyers market and Paul Groves has already demonstrated his astuteness in the market place and, if Boulding and Ford do not make a decision soon, they might finish up being touted around the clubs in the hope of getting a job. Despite rumours, no firm offers have been made for either of them and although one can say that it is early days yet, if any club really wanted them, one would have expected them to have made a move before now.

This is a good opportunity for the club to lower its wages bill and improve the quality of the players in the squad and they should take full advantage of that. They still have to find a way to dispose of contracted players from the Lennie Lawrence era who are on high wages but did not figure greatly in the past season. Menno Willems, Paul Raven and Jonathan Rowan are three in particular.

Maybe Paul Groves should announce his retained list and wait a little longer to see who will become available and at what price before he commits himself to any new signings.

If there is some good coming out of the TV failure we should take full advantage of it.

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