Grimsby’s prospective takeover appears to have collapsed on a turbulent day which also saw manager Ian Holloway resign.
Tuesday’s defeat to Bradford left Town 20th in League Two but Holloway blamed his resignation on the “inappropriate” actions of the club’s prospective new owners, led by Tom Shutes, stating they contacted him directly on several occasions.
Shutes and his associates Jason Stockwood and Andrew Pettit denied that but club chairman Philip Day then stated that representatives of the group had called Holloway three times.
In a statement reported by the Grimsby Telegraph, Shutes, Stockwood and Pettit wrote: “Like many fans, we reacted with surprise and disappointment when we heard of Ian Holloway’s resignation earlier this morning through social media.
“We would like to clarify to all concerned that none of us have ever had any contact with Mr Holloway. Several weeks ago, we did make it clear through a mutual friend that we were very supportive of Ian and that if we were to take over as custodians of the club we wanted to build a legacy with him in place (which we also communicated to Philip Day in our discussions over the last week).
“While we have acted at all times in the best interests of the club, we have to step away from further negotiations and give Philip Day the space and time he clearly needs to navigate the Mariners through this turbulent period in the club’s history.”
Day responded in a statement on the club’s website.
It read: “Ian Holloway received two telephone calls from Mr Mark Palmer who stated that he was speaking on behalf of Mr Shutes.
“We are aware that Mr Palmer acted for Tom Shutes in previous negotiations and due diligence. Ian recorded one of those conversations and it has been heard by the board.
“Further, Ian Holloway recently received another call, this time from Mr Dean Holdsworth, who had been asked to speak to him on behalf of Messrs Shutes, Stockwood and Pettit.
“As well as a director, Ian Holloway was an employee of the club and did not consider it appropriate behaviour to go behind the board and approach an employee direct.”
Holloway earlier insisted the club needed a fresh start and regretted that he did not get a “fair crack” at making a success of his role at Blundell Park.
Holloway said in a statement on Twitter: “It is with a heavy heart that I am announcing my resignation as manager of Grimsby Town Football Club.
“New wannabe owners are hovering over GTFC and (majority shareholder) John (Fenty) has told me he is selling his stake in the club. So it’s time for a fresh start across the board for this great club.
“Contact was made by the new owners to me on several occasions before the takeover, which I felt was inappropriate, and told them as such. This is the key factor in my decision.”
The former QPR and Crystal Palace boss accepted the Mariners post just under a year ago and helped them stave off relegation to the National League.
But the club have struggled again this season and Tuesday’s loss stretched their current run to just one win from their last seven games.
Holloway added: “For a myriad of reasons, on and off the pitch, it feels like we didn’t get a fair crack together, and I take my share of the blame too.
“I hoped for this to be a long, serious relationship but it hasn’t worked out that way, and that saddens me.”
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