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Who Cares?

By: Bill Osborne
Date: 22/12/2004

The following article By Rams Trust member Mick McDermott to his local newspaper should bring home to all football supporters the perilous position of a great number of the lower league clubs and some of the higher league ones too.

Fortunately, Grimsby Town Football Club is in good hands at the moment, but one can never tell what the future holds for the Mariners or any other club that has financial problems.

It is not unusual for clubs such as ours that fall into a really bad financial situation, to find a white knight stepping in to save them, who buys the club for a nominal amount with promises of a more successful future only to find that the new Saviour is a devil in disguise.

Over the last two years, there have been over a dozen clubs in poor shape lamenting the arrival of their 'Saviour' who is ripping the guts out of their club.

This is what Mick McDermott had to say;

"It wasn't Friday the thirteenth for Wrexham, but they couldn't have had a more disastrous Friday. Put into administration in the morning, docked ten points by the league in the afternoon and dumped out of the FA Cup in the evening by Scunthorpe.

The club's owner is widely believed to want to redevelop the ground for commercial purposes. With a winding up order from the Inland Revenue hanging over them, the future does not look good for the Dragons.

All very sad - but why should we as Derby County fans care? We're a much bigger club with a long and proud history. We're in a bit of a financial mess and we're not in the Premier League but it's unthinkable that the Rams could ever go bust?

Think Again.

Many clubs are starting to feel the pinch. Oxford United, fairly recently playing in the top flight and winners of the League cup are an example. Their chairman Firoz Kassam bought the club for £1 five years ago. The club now has to pay over £300,000 a year to one of his companies for the privilege of playing football at the ground he built to replace the Manor Ground. It is reported he sold the Manor Ground for £6 million, and has made large profits from a leisure complex near the new ground.

None of the profits generated seem to go to Oxford United, who have assets of just £26,504!

Far from being the saviour of the club, it appears that Kassam is just a self-interested businessman out to make as much profit as he can from a minimal investment.

This should be a salutary example to everyone who thinks that people who buy into a football club do so for love of the game or for philanthropic reasons. What happens in Wrexham and Oxford today may well happen in a 'bigger' club tomorrow.

Mr McDermott may well have been speaking about Derby County, but he might just as well be talking about Grimsby Town. We have been fortunate that our major shareholders both past and present are local people who love the club and have made many personal sacrifices to ensure its survival.

But will that always be the case?

If Mr Fenty and Co eventually move on, who will be the next owners? No one can answer that question and that is the danger.

But the greatest danger at Grimsby Town, and probably always has been, is the apathy not only of the community, but also that of the fans and supporters.

Many clubs, such as those described above, who have been on the brink of being wound up have been saved by their Supporters Trust. Trusts of clubs smaller than Grimsby Town have been able to raise a great deal of money to save their club.

And if you look at the perilous world of football today, you can see that the supporters trusts are the only form of insurance clubs can have to stave off threats to their future.

The truth is, that no one else will come to their aid, except the 'get rich quick' asset stripping fly by nights.

But what worries me most is that the Grimsby Town fans have not overwhelmed the GTST with applications to join. Possibly because they cannot see the trust doing anything major immediately and are looking for instant success.

But the trust presents the only chance for fans and supporters to, not only have a voice in the club's affairs, but to own a significant share of the club through their share purchases, which is the insurance needed to protect us in the future should our fortunes fall.

But guess what?

I can almost guarantee that the majority of those who have taken the trouble to read up to here, will shrug their shoulders and say "Same old story, Billo is pushing the trust again!"

They will, of course, be right!

But some, probably a small number, will join the trust. They will cast aside the apathy that is a malaise affecting Mariners supporters, and they will make a small but vital contribution to the future of Grimsby Town Football Club.

Will you be one of those few?

To join the Grimsby Town Supporters Trust just click HERE

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