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Peter Furneaux Interview

By: Rob Sedgwick
Date: 20/12/2001

GRIMSBY TOWN chairman Peter Furneaux was interviewed by BBC Radio Humberside on Tuesday night as part of their Mariners phone-in special, which the Town director declined to appear in. The interview with Furneaux appears below.

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Obviously the problems that have shown themselves in recent weeks have been of great concern to the board because with the new Phoenix league being muted it's fairly essential that we stay in this league.

Quite a lot of money, well above our income, has already been spent. It can be seen and checked that Lennie Lawrence has been given the backing to buy Willems at £165,000, Campbell at £200,000 and Jevons at £250,000. Also existing key players have had their contracts extended at substantial costs. Loan players such as David Nielsen, Knut Anders Fostervold, Neil Murray, Zhang Enhua (which actually could be the reason why Peter Handyside left) have also been given the go-ahead by the board.

Recently David Beharall, Marlon Broomes and Alan Neilson, each of which have probably cost us more for a month than the gate returns for a match. Ten players have also been signed for the reserves as provision for the future. Paul Wilkinson has been taken on during this time as the reserve team manager. John Cockerill has been appointed as assistant manager, also at a financial increase.

We now operate teams for ten years upwards, with a staff of thirty, including a new manager on top of existing. The club at the moment has more scouts, players, dietary assistants and consultants together with a staggering medical cost than they have ever faced. If you look at this, on top of a loss of £2.3m last year, you'll obviously see where the problems lie. The directors have supported the club for up £800,000 to date this year with the lowest First Division income.

We're currently talking to people, asking them to join the board, to contribute towards the ongoing costs, plus looking to strengthen the team. I could say that this has even been going on today with people asked to come on board and we're waiting for their reasons or whatever they want to say to us.

Also, in order to stay in the league, we have been and will be continuing to examine the club from top to bottom to see whether, for the most immediate future, we don't concentrate in staying in the league and putting more money available for the first team and maybe, in the short term, having to look at things we're doing for the long term. Because there may not be such a good long term future if we don't deal with the most immediate problems now.

So what I'm saying is the board is constantly and will continue to look at the upkeep of everything within the football club with a view to putting more money available. But it cannot be said that forever that people, because they're on the board, are going continue to put their own money in, to actually prop up something which is just not a viable proposition. But we shall try, we shall continue, and that's what we're doing now. And I think that we will succeed. We're backing the manager, we've been giving him all the time more money.

It would be dereliction of duty of the board if we didn't look at all aspects of the running the club, which are always under constant review. Hence us looking at other board members to join us. Every aspect of the club must be looked at in order to maintain First Division status. All the time that Broomes was in the side, good though he is, we only gained five points.

It's critical that, for the long term future of the club, we stay in the First Division which would allow us, should we choose, to join the new Phoenix league. Anybody in the lower divisions may find themselves in dire difficulties if this comes to fruition. The way it was put yesterday a decision has already been made by the top clubs which would cause severe difficulties for any clubs not in it. They definitely intend getting more money for themselves, and what they've said is they can get eighteen clubs to form it. If any club does not wish to enter that's in the First Division that's entirely their choice.

Should they choose to join, and the Phoenix League comes about, Grimsby would be invited to join. It was put very strongly that clubs should be in the Phoenix League at the meeting yesterday on ability and no other criteria. But of course the way it was put was that money that came into the Phoenix league would go to the clubs that were at the top of it and be shared out accordingly.

Now that means that if you're not at the top, if you're not in the top six, and if you're not one of the wealthy clubs, then you would not be getting as much as the television income as perhaps you enjoy now. It's quite cleverly worked out, it's all been sorted out, and of course we just go to the meetings to be informed and allegedly be part of the debate, but it's already been sorted out by the big clubs.

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