John Fenty

John S. Fenty
In office
Personal details
Born 28 November 1961
Grimsby, Lincolnshire, England, UK
Nationality  UK
Political party Conservative
Authority North East Lincolnshire Council
Ward Humberston & New Waltham

John Shelton Fenty (born 28 November 1961, Grimsby, Lincolnshire) is the majority shareholder and de facto chairman of Grimsby Town Football Club He is also a Conservative councillor for the Humberston and New Waltham ward of North East Lincolnshire Council.


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.[1] 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.[2] 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 January 2011, Fenty became the chairman and finance director of Topcon Construction Limited, having previously been a client of Topcon when it built a new cold store facility built for his fish processing business at Five Star Fish.[3][4]


In May 2008 Fenty was elected as a Conservative Party councillor for the Humberston and New Waltham ward of North East Lincolnshire Council.[5][6]


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.[7]

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.[8]

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.[9][10] 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.[11]

Fenty is a divisive 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 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. 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.[12]

On 23 February 2011 Grimsby Town relieved manager Neil Woods of his duties.[13] 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.[14] 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.[15]

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.[16]


  1. "John Fenty: Where There's A Will, There's Always A Way". Cleethorpes Chronicle. August 2010. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  2. "Grimsby haulier lands £14m from fish firm sale". The Telegraph. 21 April 2004. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  3. "Construction company that helped build modern Grimsby back in local hands". The Lincolnshire Echo. 19 January 2011. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  4. "Topcon re-emerges from Rok's ashes". The Construction Index. 19 January 2011. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  5. "Local Elections 2008". BBC News. 2 May 2008. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  6. "Local elections - 2008 (1st May)". North East Lincolnshire Council. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  7. "Financial Statements For The Year Ended 31st May, 2003" (PDF). Grimsby Town F.C. 31 May 2003. Retrieved 8 March 2015.
  8. "Cod Almighty July 2004 Diary". Cod Almighty. 30 July 2004. Archived from the original on 7 September 2009. Retrieved 8 March 2015.
  9. "Coca-Cola League Two play-off final: Grimsby Town 0–1 Cheltenham". The Guardian. 29 May 2006. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  10. "Slade appointed new Yeovil boss". BBC Sport. 7 June 2006. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  11. "League Two: Grimsby Town relegated after Burton defeat". The Guardian. 8 May 2010. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  12. "Broadcast Bulletin Issue number 99". Ofcom. 17 December 2007. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
  13. "Grimsby Town part with manager Neil Woods". BBC Sport. 23 February 2011. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  14. "Grimsby Town appoint Rob Scott and Paul Hurst". BBC Sport. 23 March 2011. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  15. "Refusal to name agent was key factor in case". Grimsby Telegraph. 16 March 2012. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
  16. "John Fenty resigns as Grimsby Town chairman". BBC Sport. 19 September 2011. Retrieved 8 March 2015.

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