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"Over reaction"

An Open Letter to John Fenty

By: David Wilkinson
Date: 16/09/2008

DEAR John. I, personally, am very grateful for the efforts you have put in to guarantee a future for Grimsby Town Football Club. Without your financial support the Club may well have gone to the wall.

You have taken a large stake in the Club and have taken steps to guarantee your position in order that the moves being taken to relocate and progress are in line with your own views and preferences - in a way that appropriately reflects the amount of financial support you are providing.

I don't blame you. I would also want to make sure my investment was properly protected if I were in the same position.

It does, however, mean that it is also fair to hold you to account for your decisions and actions - if not in any meaningful material sense but certainly in a moral sense.

I have three points to make that I hope you will give thought to, not least because you must consider the potential for the corrupt abuse of power that comes from holding absolute power.

1. It seems that you over react to criticism and crisis. Insofar as the consequences of this over reaction are to your own detriment then it doesn't matter. But in reality it is the supporters that suffer. There are a string of examples of when you consider things to be unfair or reasonable you react unreasonably. The Grimsby Telegraph have been banned in the past and we are saddled with an entirely inadequate radio coverage of the Club and a virtual blackout of Radio Humberside simply because of your inconsequential differences with them. It means that the supporters are denied serious coverage of the Club's affairs and - others, not me - have to listen to banal commentaries and yet more banal jingles and mindless radio advertising.

2. This over reaction is infuriating enough, but the decision to sack Alan Buckley was - in my opinion - another example of simply failing to weigh up the options and act rationally. If you were dissatisfied with him why not sack him at the end of last season? Why fund a team rebuilding exercise over the summer? Having made the investment, what sense is there in sacking the manager after 6 games when the new defensive team has hardly had a chance to play together? If it is because you know who you want to replace him with then fine, it's your Club and in that sense you can do with it pretty much what you want. But you are reported as saying there is no one yet in the frame. Sheer madness to sack a manager who hasn't yet had the chance to get the new team playing without having any idea of who is to replace him.

3. However, what's done is done. I don't agree with it but, then again, I don't own the Club - as you do. May I offer you some advice about a successor. You will, no doubt, read the idiotic rantings of the Message Boards. Big names will be bandied about: Shearer today, Keegan tomorrow and who knows the next. The next manager should be as far removed from the big money world of the Premiership as it is possible to be. Player managers do not work at this level. Bobby Kennedy in the 60's, Mike Lyons, Brian Laws were all disasters. They use a first appointment to make their mistakes - which they will make and at our expense. Having learnt from them they can do well in the future (as Brian Laws has done) but where does that leave us? Our next manager should know the Conference and lower Leagues inside out. They should have had some success to build on - but do not be afraid of someone who has made errors - if they are bright enough to learn from them. Above all they must want to play football!

The next managerial appointment for this Club could be crucial. We have been in this Division for too long. You have just sacked the likeliest prospect of getting us out - do not compound that error as failure can become an enduring habit.

David Wilkinson

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