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When should John Fenty stand down?

End of season
When successor found
Job for life!


Your Club Needs You!

By: Alan Readman
Date: 14/07/2002

IN the midst of what must surely be the most depressing close season ever, supporters of GTFC might be forgiven for taking to the bottle, but the spirit that is most wanted now is a rather large measure of the Dunkirk variety.

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Time was when the summer months were spent in digesting news of new signings and in eager anticipation of the opening day of the new season.

But now one is almost reluctant to log-on to the site in fear of the latest bulletin of gloom and doom. And with the squad being diminished more or less on a daily basis the prospect of Norwich away on August 10th seems more a matter to dread than savour.

Of course for supporters the worries are made worse by the feeling that we don't really have a clue what exactly is going on behind the scenes. That, coupled with the sense of hopelessness as bad news follows bad, only deepens the state of depression.

Taking it out on the Board of Directors is understandable but in reality neither constructive nor justified. The situation over the TV money is not of their making and there seems to be a genuine determination on their part to prevent the club going under. The response has to be drastic. Inevitably it will be unpopular. Cashing in on your best assets, while they are still saleable, is a logical step in the current circumstances, and while it may be unpalatable it cannot seriously be questioned if in sacrificing two players it brings in five. The basic point, though, is that one can hardly condemn Directors who have injected significant amounts of cash into the club. Questioning their motives and integrity, as some seem to do, is unworthy.

The players' response to the appeal for help possibly owes much to the influence of agents and the PFA but whatever the case it is barely surprising. Their world, though, is changing and they cannot ignore the signs for much longer. The TV-inflated bubble has burst and money is tight. Even the Premiership is beginning to feel the onset of harder times. Interesting to read today that Ronaldo and friends at Inter Milan have volunteered a 10% pay-cut. Easy to do when you are on £100,000 a week perhaps but recognition at least of the reality of the situation. "If a club cannot pay the players", said one, "then we need to be honest and accept a pay-cut for the good of everyone".

The balance is swinging away from the players and back to the clubs. Contracts will be shorter and less lucrative. Even in the First Division teams will be littered with loan players. Lower down the scale doubtless they will soon be mixing with part-timers

In this new world the value of a manager with an eye for a player and an ability to motivate will be even more critical. Maybe, fortuitously, we have stumbled across such a saviour in Paul Groves. One thing is for sure, no one would seem to be more committed to the cause, and no one more capable of capitalising on the team spirit which traditionally is our strongest suit.

So despite the gloom there is cause for hope. In a Board of Directors actively pursuing a realistic course. In a management team whose ability and loyalty have already passed the test. Then there is the possibility of a windfall from an out-of-court settlement with Carlton and Granada. And the prospect of the new ground and all the ramifications that can bring.

But it is all going to hinge on the reaction of the fans and the town. Talk of returning season tickets is not the answer. Clubs such as ours must now live within their means. We need the ground full. We need the town to get behind the club. It is time now for the public of Grimsby to decide whether or not they want a professional football club to carry its name. Four years ago 31,000 went to Wembley. We need them now more than they were needed then. Even a third of them would do!

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