The Fishy - Grimsby Town FC

Question of the Week

When should John Fenty stand down?

End of season
When successor found
Job for life!


Last Chance Saloon?

By: Alan Readman
Date: 17/10/2002

THE Chairman has spoken and now we know where we stand. Relief for the moment but no guarantees for the future. What happens next is clearly vital if the club is to survive.

The Board of Directors, I believe, are doing their best to keep the club afloat. The cost-cutting measures imposed during the summer are to a degree lessening the impact of the ITV Digital shortfall and for the present at least keeping the administrators at bay. But, for how long?

The measures they adopted have not been popular. And let's spare a thought here for the non-playing staff who have taken a 20% pay cut - no option of refusal for them. But without this action we would now almost certainly be staring into the abyss. Nor should we delude ourselves into thinking that administration would be an easy route out of our troubles. Very soon now a club will go into administration and not come out the other end.

What if that club was Grimsby Town? Perish the thought, but what if it was liquidated? The assets, ground, etc sold off. No team. Nothing. The Chairman is absolutely right when he says that people should be asking themselves what it would mean to them, and to the town, if GTFC ceased to exist. Think for a minute what it would mean to you. How much then would the quality of the facilities at Blundell Park matter? What would you give then to be able to go down there and watch the team, however dire the match (or the result)? It is a truism that you never fully appreciate something until it's gone. Switch to Man. United overnight? I don't think so.

And what would the town itself stand to lose? Well, if the size of the gates is a measure of the indifference, not a lot it would seem. But the point has been made countless times in the past that possession of a professional football club, particularly one playing at a reasonably high level, is a highly significant factor in the status and well-being of a town. It is a cliché perhaps but a football club puts a town on the map, gives it publicity, and indeed in the context of the global market is sometimes the only known identity a town has. Conversely, the stigma of losing a club, of being incapable of sustaining a professional team, how damaging would that be to a town today? Lets hope Grimsby is not the first to put that one to the test.

The Chairman is also right when he says that, alongside the Directors and the banks, the most realistic sources of help lie within the local community itself - in the people, the businesses and the council. Now is the time for that help to manifest itself. And here's the point, it must manifest itself now with the same intensity and urgency as if the club was indeed now in administration. Wait for that to happen and it will likely be too late.

Above all now is the moment to put aside all past divisions and grievances. There is neither the time nor the energy to waste on perpetuating them. Everyone needs to pull together in the same direction. For supporters to continue knocking the Board is now as pointless as it is unworthy. Some say they lack ambition. But their ambition is the same as ours - to keep the club in business. Some question their commitment. Yet without their 'investment' (£800,000 in two instances) there would surely be no club today.

Some will dismiss me as an apologist for the Board and at the risk of confirming their opinion I will say that the Chairman is right again when he bemoans gates of 5-6,000 for a First Division football team. Not only do they contribute to the cash-flow crisis but sadly they also reflect a worrying lack of awareness on the part of the town of the critical nature of the problems now facing its football club.

The idea of a Supporters Trust is a good one. If it works with the club to address the key issues then it can play a vital role. It is not a case of sacrificing independence. These are historic times. We must unite our efforts towards the common goal of securing the future of our club. So let's raise a glass to that.

After all, we may be drinking in the Last Chance Saloon.

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