John S. Fenty
|Born||28 November 1961
|Authority||North East Lincolnshire Council|
|Ward||Humberston & New Waltham|
At the age of 18 in 1980 he took over a failed Haulage business that his father had started. Though he made his wealth through his development from scratch, a food processing company called Five Star Fish Ltd’’, a company that achieved market dominance in the food service sector and won many accolades for excellence. By the time the business was sold, it employed over 280 people and was highly respected in the business. It sold in April 2004 for £20 million to the Real Good Food Company. He finally stood down as Chairman at the start of 2007 and finally left the company in August 2007 after 27 years at the helm.
In the late 1990s he was co-opted onto the board of Grimsby Town FC after building up £4,295 of shares in the club and another £40,000 of shares through the Five Star Fish Employee Benefit Trust. He subsequently sold all of these shares, except for £500 of his personal shares, to Michael Rouse following the collapse of ITV Digital at the end of the 2001–02 season. But, by the end of the 2002–03 season Fenty had had a change of heart and took his shareholding to £62,289 of the club equating to 26.3% of the company, buying out long term major shareholder Dudley Ramsden's interest in the club in the process.
Following the sale of Five Star Fish in April 2004, Fenty became chairman of Grimsby Town FC on 29 July 2004 with Peter Furneaux switching roles with Fenty and becoming Vice Chairman.
Under Fenty the club seemed to be building solid foundations for the future despite a huge unpaid tax bill, in the region of £700,000, to HM Revenue and Customs relating to the seasons following the ITV digital collapse. Unfortunately the club lost in the 2006 Football League Two play-off Final at the Millennium Stadium and manager Russell Slade left the club to join Yeovil Town when his contract expired at the end of May 2006. A succession of failed managerial appointments followed and Grimsby Town were eventually relegated out of the Football League for the first time in one hundred years and into the Conference National for the first time in the club's history at the end of the 2009–10 season.
Fenty is a devisive figure amongst Grimsby Town supporters. Some argue his loans and willingness to invest in further shares have kept the club from going out of business on numerous occasions. Whilst others argue that his poor judgement and decision making is the major contributing factor to the huge financial losses that he meets and that the decision to appoint the novice Neil Woods as manager in November 2009 ahead of Russell Slade and the subsequent run of 20 winless league games at the start of Woods' tenure ultimately consigned Grimsby Town to relegation.
John Fenty complained to Ofcom following a 28 April 2007 broadcast of the BBC Radio Humberside Sports programme contained a reporter calling Fenty a "plonker". The complaint was not upheld though as the station had issued two apologies in the following 7 days. Ofcom considered that the complaint had, in effect, been resolved by the BBC, and therefore found in the context of the subsequent broadcasts no unfairness resulted to Mr Fenty.
On 23 February 2011 Grimsby Town sacked manager Neil Woods. On 7 March 2011, after using an unnamed agent to make a direct approach, Fenty interviewed Boston United joint managers Rob Scott and Paul Hurst despite the pair being under contract and not having the permission of Boston to speak to the pair. On 21 March 2011 Scott and Hurst resigned as Boston managers and were appointed Grimsby Town joint manager 48 hours later. A lengthy dispute for compensation between the 2 clubs followed. The case was heard on 16 March 2012 with the court recorder finding in favour of Boston United. In his finding he said Mr Fenty had "acted recklessly" in his dealings with the said agent by relying on his word with regards to Scott and Hurst's breach of contract.
On 19 September 2011 Fenty resigned as chairman of Grimsby Town with immediate effect, although he continues to act as a director of the club.
- Grimsby Town FC company accounts 2002-03 - extra-gtfc.co.uk
- Cod Almighty July 2004 Diary - codalmighty.com
- Ofcom Broadcast Bulletin Issue number 99 - ofcom.org.uk
- Grimsby Telegraph: Refusal to name agent was key factor in case - thisisgrimsby.co.uk
- BBC Sport: John Fenty resigns as Grimsby Town chairman - bbc.co.uk