The Diary

Cod Almighty | Diary

The worms will come for you, big boots

1 December 2017

Wicklow Diary writes: At the end of the fans’ forum on Tuesday, John Fenty asked us all to band together. After a whole night of being blamed for Hurst leaving, blamed for bringing the Stevenage bra inspections on ourselves, blamed for flares, blamed for a scratch on his Merc. If we weren’t blamed, we were bullying. If we weren't bullying we were wrong. Wrong about the dictatorship, wrong about the Chuck-a-Duck Trophy, wrong about Operation Promotion, wrong about Extreme having no portfolio.

At the end, when he'd got that and more off his chest, he gave it the old 'stronger together', 'let’s all pull together'. A new leaf. In the words of a Tennant and Lowe he turned over the new leaf and then tore right through it at the AGM yesterday. 

"I’m getting a little bit concerned about how much of an attack that Extreme are receiving on social media – they’re being attacked left, right and centre" said the man who is not a dictator even if he may walk and quack like one. The fans to blame again I take it? Getting his excuses in early if Extreme up sticks to Shrewsbury and one which is, frankly, made up.

At the forum, in the context of whether the developer could deliver a new stadium, Philip Day alluded to a press release Extreme were about to make that would assuage our concerns. It turned out to be a ski slope renovation in Sheffield. Good for Extreme and Sheffield. The question to the forum still stands – where is the evidence they can build a football stadium and the £225 million of housing, shops and whatever else we're told the project needs?

It's not good enough to say 'give them a chance' if you can't provide any evidence of due diligence to support that chance. Extreme have a track record in something. I'm still not clear what that is from their website but that's probably a reflection on me, not them. Their site boasts of an "unapologetic attitude and youth focus" which makes them half a match for GTFC I suppose. Marketing Creative, Content, Activations, Brand Licensing, Destinations and Real Estate are the portfolio options on their site. Let’s have a looksy then. 

Destinations and Real Estate seems like the best bet and there it is.
The Extreme portfolio amounts to three projects that they haven't yet built, or even got planning for, and one of them is a football stadium in Grimsby. It's not a criticism to say that is not a portfolio to inspire confidence in a project that could make or break us.

No one I know has criticised Extreme. We have however asked the club where is the evidence, where is the due diligence to support the selection of the developer. It is stunning to me that GTFC would consider someone with no experience for such a key role. Imagine we appointed a manager with zero experience of football but, on balance, seemed jolly keen about the whole endeavour? Quiet at the back, I know some have given that impression. The current owner has presided over the worst period in the club's history. Would it not be remiss of us as supporters to be terrified at every choice he makes?

Marley’s entertaining story at the forum about the American investor, Mr Highnetworth, ended with him telling the investor to click their spurs and head back to Kansas. Probably. What have Extreme got that that Mr Highnetworth didn't? 

What have we learned? The board lack any self-awareness and have staggering levels of ego, paranoia, insecurity, hypocrisy and jealousy. Throw in a lack of basic human decency too. They basically acted out a script of ten years of Cod Almighty diaries observations on a single night. A Fishy thread appeared recently on CA among three threads on Fenty. It suggested we at CA were obssessed with him. We're obssessed with Town. We're obssessed by unsavoury proxy with the owner and his cronies that are not just killing it but disgracing it in the process. And one that tells us it's our fault if it goes wrong. It's a bit like that other Tory disaster, Brexit. Hey you guys, Brexit isn't going pear-shaped because of facts the figures, or because we didn't do our sums, it's because of you lot pointing out the problems with the facts and figures and not blindly getting behind it. 

In fading light, the trust bat on. Yesterday, they announced that the Forest Green Game would be 'GTFC Unity Day'. Let's face it, it's a title that would have been a tad pretentious even before Tuesday night made it insulting. Insulting, a bit strong? No, not when we sat there as the board picked the single most positive thing to happen to the club in years and drove a coach and horses through it. We thought that Operation Promotion was unity.

Interestingly, the day seems to have been organised by the trust working directly with club staff. This of course isn't the first time the trust has done the club's job for them. An argument I hear against fan ownership is that the trust don't have the resources or the expertise to run the club. Really? They trust board certainly seem to be able to step in when needed.

The trust love their club. The trust board love it enough to give up their time and so it hurts me to be critical. When I joined the trust, I hoped was joining an organisation that would hold John Fenty in check. Maybe that is impossible, we're certainly not seeing the results. Jon Wood's meek acceptance of Stephen Marley's dismantling of the Operation Promotion feelgood factor and events like unity day make them sometimes seem like an enabler for Fenty and his board. As supporters, I think we've a choice. We need to start planning now for fan ownership or end up like Exeter or Pompey and have to start from our death beds. I hope the trust start thinking that way too. I've offered that feedback to them and I'm willing to help in whatever admin or computery related way that I can.

On a more positive theme, GTFC For The Many are organising a food bank collection for the day of the Forest Green game. Well done to those involved in the idea and the day. You've all weekend to do your shopping, throw an extra something in to donate if you can next week. UTM.