Grimsby Town held a fans forum last night with management staff, members of the board, and the Mariners Trust on the panel for questions.
Here you can read the key points from the event.
Question for John Fenty: How are you getting on with Marcus and Mickey? What was their brief when they came in, and how do you think they’re doing?
Answer: Getting on like a house on fire. It’s a team – they come as a pair. They certainly work together very well and I think they’ve fitted in with the board’s aspirations well. We had a little bit of a chop around in the January window. The effort and the objective there was to prepare for next season, so we’ve not seen everybody out in force but it is a preparation for next season.
Question for Marcus Bignot: How are you doing, how are you getting on, and how are you settling in?
Answer: Very good. I’m loving life. I’m hoping this week – obviously the visit down to the docks on Tuesday, and then to the Young’s factory – to bring the team and the players. I think the players, they’re not in touch with the supporters. I’m talking football in general, and I certainly don’t want that to be at this football club. So to get that togetherness, which we want to create, and we’ve certainly got it in the boardroom, the staff; football staff, ground staff, and with the supporters. It’s going to take time but we want to engage in a community. Tuesday was a real good eye opener for the players because half of them have probably never seen a fish in their lives. It was interesting because of the trade and why we’ve done it because players become unaware. There’s been a strike in Iceland, which has impacted on this town massively in terms of the fishing trade, but those who it’s impacted on, they still come on a Saturday and are season ticket holders. They’re paying hard-earned money, and to rub shoulders and have conversations with those supporters, for me it was a defining day in terms of the way we want to move forward with this football club.
Question for Hannah Dawson: How’s it going from a Mariners Trust perspective, how can the fans get involved with it, and can you tell us about your election to the Supporters Direct England and Wales Council?
Answer: It’s going really well with the Mariners Trust at the minute. We’ve just implemented a new membership system, which will hopefully make it easier for everyone to join up and support us. That’s live on our website and you can renew via PayPal. Kristine also has been working a lot on the junior side of things so we’ve done different events and various games, and that is something which we weren’t really doing much of in past years. We’ve got a player on the pitch day coming up, and in the summer we’re going to organise another open day as well. I got nominations and I was one of the first-placed people so I’m on a seat for three years. I want to promote females in football, but also promote the work of the Trust in the club here at Grimsby, and learn from other Trusts what we can do to help the supporters. The first meeting’s in May.
Question for John Fenty: When are we looking to have our season ticket prices announced and on sale?
Answer: There are times when it’s wise to sell season tickets earlier and there are other times when it’s best to leave it alone. When it’s been a difficult season, we’ve chosen to leave it for a while because we didn’t want to be circulating the packs when people would be angry because things hadn’t gone as well as we’d wanted. When things have gone really well, we’re happy to ride on the back of that and get them out earlier. If things finish off reasonably well this season and the opportunity’s right then we would send them out earlier than normal.
Question for John Fenty: Will Grimsby Town own the new stadium?
Answer: Unfortunately, that decision the cabinet made last week has been called in today. The decision will be brought into question at a meeting on March 21st. I imagine the recommendation will be to proceed. The site is going to be purchased by Extreme, then we’re going to have an agreement with them which will give us 999 years lease, and the community stadium will be owned by the football club. It will be paid for through an enabling development, which will consist of social housing, and other types of housing. The objective is to give people the opportunity to get on the housing ladder. There will be 1500 houses, which probably won’t all be at Peaks Parkway.
Question for Marcus Bignot: What is the latest situation on Gavin Gunning?
Answer: I’m pleased to say he’s on the mend but there’s a two-week protocol now in terms of concussion. He was completely knocked out on Saturday and it was worrying at the time. I’m a manager who never blames refs as it’s a hard job.
Question for Marcus Bignot: Why are we so inconsistent and do you think we have gone overboard in signing non-League players, who I’m not knocking because they’re hungry – but don’t we need a mix?
Answer: In an ideal world, yes, you’d get proven players at this level, but I don’t think we’re in that market at this moment in time. Chris Clements has played over 100 games at this level and he’s still got a lot of potential at 26-years-old, but yes we’d love to get the right mix but it’s not for the want of trying.
Question for Marcus Bignot: When you’ve got all your players available, what’s your preferred formation?
Answer: My preferred system is trying to find a balance and getting your best players out on that pitch, and finding a system that best suits them. Have I had my best players available to play the system? There’s question marks over that, so really what I believe is that there’s only three ways to attack; play it through, play over, or down the sides. God hasn’t invented any other way to play football. I’d love to have the team and group that plays all three, and have all the opportunities. Most teams play with three in the middle so if you do that you’ve got to dominate and I’ve not seen two midfielders that can go up against a three other than if you’ve got N’Golo Kante, so we have to have three in there. To go over, I don’t believe we’ve got in the group a number nine who can play on his own so we have to play with two, and I like width as well. Unfortunately we haven’t got that natural winger who can play on the left but the game’s evolving now – most wingers come and play infield, and it’s about overlapping full-backs. But it’s a league of restarts as well and you need some big boys because the ball comes into your box.
Question for Marcus Bignot: Do we have a credible replacement for James McKeown when he’s injured or suspended?
Answer: We’ve got a couple of outfield players, certainly one who’s playing regularly at the moment and one who’s on the bench, who can fill that void. At my previous club, I had never had a substitute keeper on the bench. I always went for an outfielder, but we’ve got two in mind. We’ll get more time with the players next year.
Question for John Fenty: Would you support the inclusion of Premier League B teams in the EFL Trophy next year?
Answer: It’s a situation that isn’t going away. We originally voted for under-21 players, intending to be up-and-coming players that needed first-team football and the objective was to help the English game. Then the EFL board decided to fall to pressure from the Premier League to include under-23s and five overage players, but we didn’t vote for that and I personally don’t believe they should be in the competition. But because of the way the competition’s structured, we ended up with three games. Were we worse off for it? No, we weren’t – we were better off for it. So, from a financial point of view, as much as the fans boycotted it, we weren’t financially worse off. But the competition is trying to help the English game so hopefully it will be under-21s and no five overage players next year. If that was the case, I would personally like to see it continue. If it’s anything different, we would object but I’ve got a feeling there’s a real movement for it.
Question for Marcus Bignot: If the last game of the season is a total dead rubber will you pick Craig Disley in your side, let him lead the team out, and substitute him to allow him to get the fantastic standing ovation from all the Town fans, who hugely appreciate what he has done?
Answer: We’ve got to respect him, in terms of what he has done for this football club. I think it was misinterpreted what I said before, with social media being a pain in the back-side. He’s not getting any younger, and with the situation we’re in we cannot commit to him at this moment in time for next season. So I gave him the opportunity to go and get another 18-month contract because he’s got a family, so he could secure his future for another 18 months. Hopefully the last game’s not a dead rubber – I don’t believe in dead rubber games, but the skip will leave on his terms and the supporters will not be disappointed. He’ll decide when it’ll be, but when he walks out of this club we’ll show him all the appreciation we can because he’s a legend at this football club.
Question for John Fenty: We currently have a good backroom staff. Are there any plans to bring more people in?
Answer: At the moment we’re in deliberations for a strength and conditioning coach. Dave Moore does a whole host of that side of things, and has done for years, but football has moved on. It’s currently in the melting pot and is probably something we’ll prescribe to. We’ve had this post filled in the past but I didn’t personally think it was value for money but I’ve been assured it will be a huge benefit.
The Mariners are in action tomorrow (3pm) as they travel to second-bottom Leyton Orient.