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Letter To The GET

By: Bill Osborne
Date: 16/09/2003

MR Peter Furneaux, chairman of Grimsby Town, has written to the Grimsby Telegraph regarding the banning of Stuart Rowson claiming the article was sensationalism and did not reflect the true facts.

Our Ref: PWF/TH
15th September 2003
Michelle Lalor
Editor The Grimsby Telegraph
80 Cleethorpe Road
North East LincolnshireDN31 3EH

Dear Michelle,

Re: Stuart Rowson

We refer to the meeting between Grimsby Town FC and The Grimsby Telegraph in March when it was agreed that the Chairman Peter Furneaux would be the point of contact for the newspaper for any non-playing articles relating to the football club. You may recall that this meeting was specifically arranged to discuss the Club's concerns over previous reporting inaccuracies in The Grimsby Telegraph and full and frank talks resulted in an agreed process for the future. The Grimsby Telegraph, however, failed to follow the agreed protocol.

Given the nature of the article of 05.09.03 on the front page of the newspaper concerning supporter safety, the Club would consider this a major story and one on which which the Chairman should have been consulted and asked for the facts. At no time did Stuart Rowson contact the Chairman, resulting in an article which was factually inaccurate, sensationalised and damaging to the football club.

Grimsby Town Football Club considers the safety of it's supporters to be of paramount importance. The Club is strictly controlled on it's safety arrangements by North East Lincolnshire Council, who issue the Safety Certificate, and by the Safety Advisory Group, which comprises senior council officials and representatives of Police, Fire and Ambulance and the Football Licencing Authority. The Club has never, and will never, deviate from it's obligations and safety will never be compromised.

No change has been made regarding the provision of a matchday ambulance in the last 15 seasons. Standard matchday practice at Blundell Park on matchdays is to have two doctors in attendance at every match (regardless of the size of the crowd) as well as the St John's Ambulance. The St John's kindly supply one of their own ambulances if they have one available. There are also two fully equipped, recently improved and updated medical rooms with direct phone contact to the Ambulance Station.

Therefore, Grimsby Town FC have not "ditched" the matchday ambulance for crowds anticipated to be under 5000, nor have we ever" refused to pay" for a matchday ambulance when one has been required. For your information, last season the matchday ambulance was not necessary on nine occasions. We repeat: the club has stuck to the same matchday system for the last 15 years.

Lincoln City and Scunthorpe United do not have a matchday ambulance for crowds anticipated to be under 5000. The attached letters from the two clubs prove a further inaccuracy in the Telegraph article.

It is also worth noting that the emotive images which accompanied the article were both incidents that were dealt with by an ambulance which had to be summoned to Blundell Park. Neither Martin Pringle nor Steve Livingstone were taken to hospital in the ambulances which were in attendance due to the crowd numbering over 5000. It is important that player safety and crowd safety are not confused, something which the article clearly did.

For a similar situation at a recent reserve team match, an ambulance was required for an injured player and was at the stadium within two minutes of the call.

Further supporting documentation regarding all of the above points is available from the Safety Advisory Group and Football Licencing Authority.

We trust that The Grimsby Telegraph will now accept that the article was neither fair nor accurate, and that it proved damaging to the football club as a business. The Club requires a meeting to agree an appropriate response from The Grimsby Telegraph with a retraction to be given due prominence as per The Press Complaints Commission's Code of Practice, Section 1 "Accuracy".

We await your swift response.

Yours sincerely

Peter FurneauxChairman
On behalf of The Board of Directors

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