Money, money, money: how Fenty still suffocates the Mariners

Cod Almighty | Article

by Tony Butcher

27 August 2021

Following Wednesday’s Radio Humberside session with Chairman Wow, our see-through supremo, we have one question: is the future bright or is it orange?
Town are rolling in it! Or are they? Tony takes a further look at Town's and John Fenty's finances

Just where is that Grist, Pollock and (hopefully impending) Dembele windfall going? Or perhaps the most pertinent question is: in whose bank account is it going to end up, and why?

Oh dear, oh dear, we may be under new owners but the suffocating tentacles of the Fenty regime remain wrapped around our throat. He's gone, but we can't forget him just yet. It's contractual, it's the price we are paying for freedom.

Shall we tie up a few loose ends?

John Shelton Fenty: The taxman cometh

Remember John Fenty’s tax issue? Well, it looks like it has been sorted, straight after he sold Town.

On 26 July 2021 the liquidator of FSF, the company sold by Fenty in 2004, confirmed the following:

  • a claim had been lodged against the former parent company, which had been defended;
  • the liquidator had not accepted the points raised in defence;
  • an offer was made by John Shelton Fenty to settle the liquidation fees, debts and expenses on the basis that the legal action against the parent company ceased;
  • this offer was not accepted and a further offer was made in May 2021 which was acceptable to her and HMRC.

The final agreement was for a sum that was more than the initial offer from John Shelton Fenty but less than the claim made by the liquidator. Acceptance was a commercial decision based on the expectation that the additional costs in taking the matter to court would be greater than the difference in offer and claim.

The details of the settlement were not finalised at the time of the report, but she expected to pay a dividend to creditors within 6 months. The amount claimed by creditors is shown as £1,373,490.

We shall have to await the liquidator’s final Receipts and Payments report to see exactly how much John Fenty has repaid and whether that includes the both the claim for the missing asset and the unpaid tax.

Beg, steal or borrow? Paying off Fenty's loans

What is publicly known about the terms of the sale of Grimsby Town is set out in the notice to shareholders of a general meeting on 9 April 2021. This detailed the sale transaction for the transfers of shares from John Fenty to 1878 Partners Limited. It stated:

  • 1878 Partners Ltd, a newly formed private limited company will enter into a contract to acquire the certain shares in the capital of GTFC from John Fenty, at a nominal value of £975,000, representing 40.97% of the voting rights in GTFC;
  • 1878 Partners will provide a guarantee that the £1.5m in loans currently owned by GTFC to John Fenty will be repaid in three annual instalments with the final repayment by 31 December 2023;
  • Mr Stockwood and Mr Pettit will be appointed as directors of GTFC and Mr Stockwood will assume the role of Chair for a fixed term of 3 years;
  • John Fenty will resign as a director of GTFC.

Messrs Stockwood and Pettit provided a guarantee to repay the Fenty loans, not that they would pay them directly. The club remains liable to repay it all. In simple terms, Town are obliged to pay £500,000 per annum to John Fenty up to the end of 2023.

In the BBC Humberside forum Jason Stockwood confirmed that a further term of the agreement to acquire John Fenty's shares was that any player transfer income would accelerate the repayment of director loans. This condition was an immovable term: John Fenty would not waive this.

The reported up-front fees for Grist and Pollock add up to £410,000, so that's the first instalment nearly covered already. Should there be a Dembele windfall it goes to pay off the director loans from the previous regime.

Blundell Park life would have been so much simpler if only John Fenty had been following the lead of the former owner of Chesterfield, who waived £2.045m in loans when transferring the club to a community trust. I'm sure it gives him an enormous sense of well-being. No wonder the inspired Spireites can afford to pay an alleged £250,000 transfer fee for a non-League striker.

Until John Fenty is paid off he still retards the business. The sooner the better, but we’ll just have accept that until that happens the handbrake is still on.
And then, to quote our WYSIWYG leader, "we can go through the gears in the next few years"

Tomorrow. You never know.


July 2022 Update

On 25 May 2022 the liquidator in FSF Dormant Limited filed her final return confirming that John Shelton Fenty had paid £600,000 in full and final settlement of the claims within that company's liquidation. It does not confirm whether HMRC remain in pursuit of any personal taxation arising, only in terms of claims within this company.

John Shelton Fenty remains director of three active (ie still existing) companies within the UK and, since January 2022, a company named Luxury Sun Kissed Properties in Spain.