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The Radio Humberside Situation - Comment

By: Bill Osborne
Date: 29/06/2007

GRIMSBY Town FC, under the leadership of John Fenty, has done a terrific job in bringing the club from the brink of administration (or even receivership) to where it is today.

The club through, astute fiscal management, have managed to survive the ITV/Digital after effects and are well on the way to a secure financial standing.

A new stadium is planned, Alan Buckley has returned and steadied the sinking ship on the football side, the fans are returning and confidence is back in the fans and supporters and we are now looking forward to a successful future.

That has not been easy and along the way, like everyone else, they may have made a few mistakes.

But none can compare with this one.

The poor relationship that presently exists between Radio Humberside and GTFC is a mistake, if that is the correct word.

Football clubs in particular rely heavily on the local media for advertising, promoting and marketing the club and its services and the local media have to pay a fee for doing that. The fee does include access to the club officials and players etc but a fee they do pay.

The Grimsby Telegraph and Radio Humberside have to pay fees for that access despite all the other things they do for the club. There is nothing wrong with that if it is mutually beneficial.

But to be at loggerheads with the local media is a mistake and GTFC have been at loggerheads with them on more than one occasion.

Neither side won. It was a loss for all. But commonsense prevailed and the problems were very quickly solved.

That is not the case with Radio Humberside.

They cannot agree on the fee that is being set by the club for the commentaries and player access etc.

If the club's attitude is that we are not going to sell our services to Humberside for a pittance then they are right. Why should we, when we are trying to get the club on a firmer financial basis, do so by selling our services on the cheap? We should not do that.

But there is a big difference between not selling your services on the cheap and setting prices that place you outside the market place.

And that really is what this disagreement is all about.

The BBC locally has a remit and a budget allocated from the BBC nationally and BBC national will not increase the local budget to Humberside to meet the fees demanded by the club.

If the fees the club are asking for are within the normal market price range, how is it that no other local radio station has stepped in to fill the gap left by Humberside?

The answer to that, is that it shows that the difference between the asking price and the acceptable price is too wide.

And the result is that the club will receive nothing and instead will have to expend funds to ensure that the subscribers to Mariners World will get what they are paying for. (Non Subscribers get nothing) But that is not what they will get.

Instead of the professionally presented commentaries provided by Burns, Tondeur and Kerr, they will get what we got before, a home produced replacement that was not satisfactory then and doubtless will be in the future.

If that is the case, then Town will not only have lost the Humberside income, they may well lose some of the Mariners World income too. Can we afford that?

Remember too that if we gain promotion, the media fees will increase. That's the deal with the Football League. Can we afford to lose that too?

Right at this moment in time, everything is going well. We have never had it so good over the last five or more years as we're having it now. We can quite rightly call ourselves a successful club now aiming to go higher.

So why when everything is going well, do we have to have a continual disagreement with a section of the local media, when we should be working hand in hand with them in pursuing our continued success?

There are no winners. The losers are the fans and supporters of Grimsby Town Football Club. The commentaries are a service to them. They too are a part of the team and should be treated accordingly.

Give us back the quality service we are used too. No replacements, no excuses.

It can and should be sorted. And soon!

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