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By: Rob Sedgwick
JOHN Fenty has resigned as Grimsby Town chairman with immediate effect. The resignation has been prompted by an investigation by the Take Over Panel into the relationship between former vice-chairman Mike Parker and Mr Fenty.
Parker himself resigned back in March over a disagreement about the structure and voting system of the GTFC Board, which he felt did not allow him to have sufficient say in the club. Immediately prior to that Fenty and Parker had shared the financial burden between them, although in prior years Fenty had taken on the club of the debt.
Since March Parker has increased his stake in the club to 54%, making him the majority shareholder, and this has prompted the investigation by the Take Over Panel.
Fenty has been bankrolling the club for several years and with Town losing over a million pounds in the previous financial year, it does leave a cloud of uncertainty hanging over the Mariners. In the statement however issued by GTFC it does however says there is "breathing room to find a solution". With the AGM not taking place until November 24th, Town look like they will remain without a chairman until that time. Chief Executive Ian Fleming will speak on behalf of the club in the meantime.
John Fenty has been a director of Grimsby Town for almost a decade, a period which has coincided with the biggest decline in the club's history. Just over ten years ago the Mariners were an established team in what is now the Championship. Today, on gates of half what they were then, the Mariners are in the lowest league position they have been since Grimsby Town entered the league in 1892.
Fenty's reign has had few highs and many lows, including three relegations. Only one manager has seen his contract out during that period, Russell Slade, and he left with a huge cloud over him when his contract was not renewed because of a last minute hitch over wages. All the other managers during the Fenty years have been sacked, several of them with years still to run on their contracts. Each manager was arguably less successful than his predecessor, a run which is still continuing to this day.
Events off the field have played a massive part in Town's demise. The collapse of ITV Digital directly affected Grimsby for at least five years, and led to a loss of more than half their income overnight. The Bosman ruling has led to a gradual erosion of transfer fees and far more movement of players between clubs than there was 20 years ago, when Grimsby's success was built on a stable side. Then there has been the saga of the "new ground" move to Great Coates, which seems as far away as it ever has done, and which has cost Fenty huge amounts of time and money.
But despite all the problems John Fenty's wealth has kept the Mariners afloat during difficult times. Without it things might have been even worse. We would have certainly gone into administration with all the uncertainty that entails, and may have folded altogether.
The Fishy would like to thank John Fenty for all the work he has put into the club during his time as Chairman and hope that this does not mean the end of his involvement with the Mariners.
Whatever happens to Town in the future the spirit of the Mariners will never die. Grimsby Town is bigger than John Fenty, Mike Parker and everyone reading this. It's been a miserable few years so let's just hope that the next chapter in our history is a more successful one. God knows any sort of success is long overdue.
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