THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

6 May ~ Plymouth Argyle's bank holiday relegation to League Two, inevitable as it was after a ten-point deduction earlier in the season, isn't the biggest issue for the club this week. As votes are counted for the referendum on the electoral system, Argyle's creditors will also be polled on a company voluntary arrangement that could see new owners installed at Home Park by June, thus avoiding further penalties. The list of creditors goes from the mundane to the ridiculous.

This is a club that, through the actions of the "Malignant Seven" (the directors who until administration ran the club), owes over £8,000 to St John Ambulance, £50,000 to Southport FC, 4p to Swindon Town and almost £1 million, paid out of the club's own coffers, to stadium design companies and sundry consultants for a World Cup host city bid that was doomed before it began. The Administrator's report on the conduct of the directors should give food for thought to those responsible for investigating and prosecuting bad businessmen. 

Nobody knows what next season will look like – it's almost certain that the higher earners at the club will move on through will or force – and manager Peter Reid (if he stays) will need to look to youth and the commitment of veterans such as Carl Fletcher and Romain Larrieu to steer the club back to calmer waters. Similarly, nobody knows who will be in charge next year off the pitch. Local businessman James Brent appears to be in pole position but has said he's only there as a last resort and would stand aside if a better bid came about.

The other two rumoured bidders are a mysterious Dublin-based moneyman and Paul Buttivant, a Conservative councillor from Middlesex who was linked to a bid for Wrexham not long ago. Still waiting in the wings is Peter Ridsdale, who many expect to have a role as chairman or chief executive under new ownership: what his price is, in monetary and other terms, is open to question.

The grim irony this season has been that Argyle have had the best press the club has ever had. Reid’s reputation has been bolstered by him solemn determination to get the best out of a demoralised and ever-diminishing squad, and the players' actions in refusing to accept months' worth of wages in favour of the money being spread equally across all the staff at the club has got national media coverage.

This season especially has severely tested but has ultimately made us proud of the bonds we share as fans. The goodwill from away teams at Home Park has been genuinely touching, but it's the response from the real heart and soul of the club – the fans, the players, the backroom staff and the manager – that has made us all extremely proud and grateful. You don't expect fans of a club that's been relegated to give their players a standing ovation, but that's what Home Park witnessed on Monday. There's much more at stake than mere relegation, and the quiet dignity with which the club has conducted itself since Christmas has been impressive.

Just as laudable are the efforts of fans to raise money and support the club when it needs it most. Argyle's Supporters Trust, fan and business group the Green Taverners, and individual fans collecting loose change in buckets have gone the distance in helping their club, reassuring local suppliers and raising money to help the unpaid staff out while trying to repay the money owed to the St John Ambulance. It sounds perverse, but I feel more a part of a community now than I did in our "race to mediocrity" seasons in the Championship. Gareth Nicholson

Comments (16)
Comment by pilgrimfathers 2011-05-06 10:01:48

Good article,and sums it all up perfectly i'm afraid.

In the 30 years that i have followed Argyle,this is the worst season ever.

When i made the short trip to Truro in July 2010,for a Pre-Season friendly,i never imagined the club and team would go through what they have done,and are still going through.

I feel betrayed and let down by the infamous seven who have put the club on the brink.

It has been awful to say the least,but credit is due to the team,Peter Reid and the backroom staff for turning up to work everyday,and without pay at that.

And credit is also due to those who have raised monies over the last few weeks.

Today (May 6th) is a crucial day indeed. I just hope the creditors vote in favour of the CVA and the club can rise again.

Comment by Sean of the Shed 2011-05-06 10:52:11

I read somewhere (Southport forum I think), that they are offering 0.77p in the pound, which means that Southport would rfecieve only £385 of the £50,000 owed to them. Southport would gain far more by Plymouth being wound up, as they would then get to stay in the BS Premier, with all the increased financial income they would then get over what they would get in the BS North.

Comment by Max Payne 2011-05-06 10:55:59

Pennies in the pound is bad enough but 0.77p is just abject. Given the number of willing speculators circling the club I think it makes sense for those owed money to hold out for a good deal more. 7.7p would be more like it and even that's not exactly satisfactory.

Comment by Camdenbadger 2011-05-06 12:18:05

As great nephew and recent tenant of Michael Foot, I was reflecting on another "grim irony" of Argyle's season. That the club was relegated on the May Day bank holiday, a holiday Michael brought in as employment secretary in 1979.
He liked to say that he would not "conk out" until they were in the top league, and that looked a distinct possibility just a few years ago if I remember right.
Now I read in WSC that a Conservative councillor from Middlesex could take over the Club!
I can almost hear the stick rattling from beyond the grave.

Tom Foot

Comment by El_Guapo 2011-05-06 15:43:38

And with that, they're saved by their unsecured creditors accepting 0.77% of the money owed to them.

Another near escape for a football club and another deeply depressing day for a football club's suppliers.

Comment by El_Guapo 2011-05-06 15:47:36

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/13313804.stm

Comment by Liffrok 2011-05-06 20:13:44

As an Argyle fan, the 0.77p offer is horribly embarrassing. I'd feel very uncomfortable if we ever make a cash bid for a player if the creditors are left out of pocket to that extent (a bit like Southampton did when they paid £1m for Rickie Lambert immediately after coming out of administration).

Comment by Barnstoneworth 2011-05-07 22:49:44

Liffrok, when Southampton came out of administration the new owners paid off all the creditors in full. There was no CVA and no vote on whether to accept any offer of 10p, 1p or .77p in the £.

Comment by MoeTheBarman 2011-05-08 11:08:58

Good luck over the coming months to Plymouth.

Comment by pilgrimfathers 2011-05-08 11:52:11

By god we will need all the liuck we can get.


Comment by pilgrimfathers 2011-05-08 11:54:49

By god,we will need every bit of luck we can get...

Comment by Kev7 2011-05-08 14:18:33

I feel for the Green Army and Romain Larrieu, who was interviewed on RMC (French radio) a year or so ago and seems to be a model professional.

I’ve written in Les Cahiers du Football about the Andronikou report on Pompey (published april 2010, read it - all 80 grim pages of it - 445 creditors, Utaka owed millions…), as well as on this iniquitous “Football Creditors’ Rule”, and I do hope the Plymouth community won’t suffer too much from the ginormous debt the club has somehow amassed (approximately £14 M if I’m not mistaken).

About this insulting 0.77p to the £ “offer”. Do not forget that this will NOT apply to the debts owed to other football clubs (secured debts), or any or football-related creditor (agents, etc.), so Southport, mentioned by Sean, will get their 50 grand.

The Football Creditors’ rule is in blatant breach of the insolvency legislation (HMRC are trying to change this anomaly), it was designed by footballers for footballers. It is all the non football-related creditors (“unsecured debts”) that will get the 0.77 % treatment (i.e the schools, hospitals, community centres, florists, tradesmen, etc.).

Comment by drew_whitworth 2011-05-09 10:52:58

Without intending to trivialise or make light of the situation - what's the 4p owed to Swindon actually for? Can you actually buy anything for 4p these days?

Comment by tempestinaflathat 2011-05-09 15:14:25

4p? Hmmmm. Do they still sell those little Black Jack aniseed sweets? Might get a couple of them for fourpence.

And if they do owe 4p to Swindon, how? That would be a pretty easy bill to repay, surely. I'm not associated with either club, but I'd gladly stump up a few coppers if it would help.

Comment by pilgrimfathers 2011-05-10 11:02:34

It is baffling as to why Argyle owe such a meagre sum to Swindon Town,and i have know idea as to what it is for.

I have seen the list for who is owed what monies,and it is extremely dire in content.

I do feel sorry for the unsecured creditors,it really is a tragic shame. The secured creditors will get most of their monies back in time.

The talk on PASOTI at the moment is rampant with assumptions & speculation. Some Argyle fans believe the consortium that won the PB race will back out of any deal to buy the club.

The consortium have paid a six figure sum for them to be not known as yet,although it has been stated that they will put some monies into the club this week. This is for the paying of staff wages and tidying up loose ends,as i have read/heard?.

Now that QPR have been promoted to the Premiership,they owe Argyle around &125,000-ish,due to the sale of Jamie mackie.

Comment by pilgrimfathers 2011-06-08 11:02:14

Argyle have passed the 28 day CVA appeal deadline with not one appeal against,so that is good.

Now we wait for the Football League meeting at the weekend,where we hope they grant the club their golden share and a place in League Two.

If that goes well,then PR & PR can start to bring in new players/announce the season ticket prices/get the new kit sorted out etc-etc.

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