This is eye watering stuff. The Mariners are currently £3.8m in debt as they, once again , chase the dream of promotion to the Football League. They lost 480k in the last season reported, (the FA Trophy final season) despite a Wembley profit of 200k.
How did this happen ?
Wages is the short answer. A big fat bloated wage bill that is totally out of kilter with the clubs income. The shortfall has been made up by the clubs directors over the years and fans have become accustomed to seeing the auditors place a “going concern “ warning in the accounts.
To illustrate the level of doping going on lets have a look at the last two years figures.
The rise in turnover can generally be attributed to the visit to Wembley to play the Town and some player sales. Without that they would have, once again spent more than their entire income on wages.
When you consider that the League 2 cap is 60% you can see the size of the problem.
To comply with that 60% cap they would have to drop around 400k from their wage bill. It’s a massive amount, especially when you consider that Wrexham’s budget is 500k in total.
Despite the owners stating that they are looking to reduce their commitment there does not seem to be any reduction in their pursuit of the dream. All conference clubs have to submit budgets to the Conference before a ball is kicked. It would be fascinating to see what Grimsby have put forward.
In the mean time the debt grows and it is difficult to see how the creditors will get their money back in the short or medium term.
On the plus side the club gets decent gates and the creditors (mostly John Fenty himself) do not seem minded to call in the debts.There is a new ground mooted but,then again, that has been the case for many years and there are many hurdles to jump before that becomes a reality. The Mariners will not be leaving the palatial splendours of Blundell Park anytime soon.
The majority shareholder at Grimsby is a character called John Fenty, we will cover him in a bit more detail when we come back to this story. Fenty seems to be a divisive figure but it is difficult to see him as a villain in the Hamilton/Moss mould. That isn’t what is going on here.
Having said that it doesn’t seem right that clubs who balance their books should have to compete with financial doping on such a grand scale.This level of doping totally distorts the market and makes it difficult for honest clubs like ourselves to compete.
Grimsby could really do with a promotion as it is impossible to see the debt being reduced whilst they remain in the Conference. The club has been mismanaged under Fenty but the sheer size of the debts rule out a white knight coming in.
Any prospective buyer would find better value elsewhere.
So, pending a promotion, it appears that we are stuck with a club that is running up a massive tab ,to the detriment of fair competition , and making life difficult for its fellow Conference members.
We don’t see Grimsby going bust tomorrow but even their most relaxed supporters will be feeling a measure of unease as bad money is thrown after bad money.