A Round-up of Argyle News
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Also included on the three most recent days, facts from Argyle's history.
James Brent spent an hour with the club's staff and players yesterday to discuss their wage concerns. Speaking afterwards, the prospective owner said the mood among employees was "glum". But he vowed to pay all future wages on time if he takes control, in a bid to make Argyle, set to lose £1.2million this year, sustainable. Mr Brent added: "On completion, we'll clearly pay October's wages as soon as possible." The hotel and farming entrepreneur must also settle historic unpaid wage debts as part of the deal – a figure now pushing £3.5million. He told staff that they would be offered a cash sum up-front, followed by a minimum guaranteed monthly payment for the next five years. Some future revenues, such as player sales, would be split evenly between backdated pay and club funds. Mr Brent is preparing for a likely meeting with the PFA next week, before meeting each worker individually. Without the agreement of all affected staff and players – both past and present – Argyle's future will remain at stake.
Caretaker manager Carl Fletcher has welcomed the honesty of Plymouth Argyle's prospective new owner. He was pleased that James Brent took the time to talk to Argyle's players and staff yesterday. "It's nice to be treated professionally by professional people", hes said. "At the end of the day, we are all human beings and everyone is the same. You shouldn't treat anyone differently. All anyone at this club asks for is just a bit of honesty, and I think for the first time we have got that, so that's a massive bonus."
The manager hopes that he can build on last Saturday's first win of the season when they travel to fourth-placed Crawley Town tomorrow. It will be the first meeting between the clubs, with Crawley having been promoted as Football Conference champions at the end of last term. Fletcher does not want his players to be distracted by the more positive messages coming out of Home Park this week, compared to all the doom and gloom of recent months. He said: "It's light at the end of the tunnel and we will keep our fingers that everything goes through, but we are just focused on the game tomorrow really. Obviously, it's in the background and it's frustrating at times, but we have got enough to work on, on the training pitch, for tomorrow." Fletcher continued: "I think the workrate the players put in last Saturday was phenomenal, and we have set the standard now. We want that every week. We have to be on top form in every game we play because this league is so competitive, and everyone can beat everyone. You have to be at the top of your game to try to get the win. It's a 'fail to prepare, you prepare to fail' kind of thing. They are all professionals and know what they need to do to be in top shape for tomorrow."
Carl Fletcher has yet to decide whether he will return to playing for Argyle when he has served his three-match suspension. He told reporters: "I have not really thought about that, to be honest. I have not thought that far ahead. Literally, we are just taking it day to day at the minute. We want to be organised and competitive in every game we play in, and that's taking up most of our time with the preparation and planning, and keeping the players happy. That's pretty much a 24-hour job. We are trying to prioritise what we need to get done, and then we will think about other things later." Fletcher added: "It has been hard for me to get the training in because I have been overseeing it all, but I have been trying to do my extra stuff away from work, in my own time. I have not actually trained since I took over. It's hard enough trying to keep the lads training, let alone trying to keep myself going as well." He added: "Ro has pretty much been training every day, and helping me on certain things when we need both of our inputs."
Defender Simon King has admitted it was an easy decision to agree to extend his loan to Argyle from Gillingham for a second month. His initial spell with the Pilgrims had been set to end after the away game against Crawley Town tomorrow, but King will now stay at Argyle until at least the clash against Morecambe at Home Park on Saturday, November 5. King said: "It didn't take me any time at all to agree to stay on loan for another month. It has been great here. Results haven't been going our way but, hopefully, we have turned the corner now. It's just nice playing first team football, I enjoy working with Fletch and Ro and there are a good bunch of lads. I think it's helping me as well. It's quite a young squad so it's bringing me out of my shell a bit more. I have never been the loudest or communicated that well previously, but being one of the senior pros it means I have to." King added "It's a nice part of England as well. I'm enjoying it. It's a fresh start for me and I'm just hoping to be part of a winning team now and we can get shooting up that league. A few of the boys are in the same hotel as me and we tend to have a little look around in the afternoons. We have been to the Barbican and places like that. It's great."
Argyle are cutting ticket prices for their game against Accrington Stanley at Home Park next Saturday, which marks the 125th anniversary of the club's first ever match. To celebrate their birthday, Argyle are reducing the cost of admission to £12.50 for adults and £1.25 for under-18s. Gate receipts from the fixture will be used to pay the Pilgrims' players and staff some of the money they are still owed for their September wages. Argyle will also be producing a 120-page commemorative edition of the match programme, priced at £5.
In a statement released last night, administrators The P&A Partnership said they had reached "an agreement in principle" with James Brent's Akkeron Group for the sale of the football club. Lead administrator Brendan Guilfoyle added: "The administrators and the Akkeron Group are committed to completing the deal next month. The precise timing will depend on the Football League's transfer of the club's 'golden share'. We have consulted various parties and I must thank them for their flexibility in enabling us to negotiate and agree a deal with the Akkeron Group. In particular I would like to thank staff and players as throughout this complex and protracted process they have put the rescue of their club above their own interests." Mr Brent had been due to fly to India this week on an unrelated business trip, but cancelled that to continue negotiations. Acting Argyle chairman Peter Ridsdale was also heavily involved in the discussions, which culminated in a late afternoon conference call. Mr Brent said he was "delighted" by the news and the administrators' statement. He said: "I would like to add my thanks to the staff and players of Plymouth Argyle Football Club for all the sacrifices they have made. We still have a little way to travel, and there will be bumps along the way, but this is a very positive development. We have a first-class team of professionals now focused on closing the acquisition at the earliest possible opportunity."
It is thought that all parties will now move to working on a formal sale and purchase agreement, aiming to get the deal rubber-stamped by Tuesday 11th October. Plymouth City Council, which needs to buy Home Park as part of the bid, must first undertake the democratic formalities that will enable the purchase. Argyle's staff and players, largely unpaid this year, will also be asked to accept repayment of their backdated wages on terms likely to involve cash over a period of years. The final hurdle will be the Football League, which has to approve each element before handing Argyle back their golden share in the league pyramid, suspended at the point of administration. The news appears to draw a line under the possible involvement of Cornwall-based developer Kevin Heaney. Paul Buttivant, who is heading a separate consortium that has made an offer for the club, said: "We won't throw in the towel until the last minute."
Warren Feeney has been called up to the Northern Ireland squad for their Euro 2012 qualifying matches at home to Estonia on Friday 7th October and away to Italy the following Tuesday; and if he plays in both games, he will win his 46th cap for his country. As a result, Argyle will be without their only experienced striker for the Accrington Stanley game at Home Park on Saturday 8th October.
Charges of fraud against Peter Ridsdale have been dropped by the City of Cardiff Trading Standards Agency. Argyle's acting chairman appeared in court in July this year to face two charges under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and one under the Fraud Act 2006. The charges alleged that by omitting the details of a transfer embargo Cardiff was under at the time, the Bluebirds Golden Ticket promotion was misleading. Peter Ridsdale was due in court in Cardiff again today and this morning released a statement. He said: "Today's decision by the City of Cardiff Trading Standards Agency to offer 'no evidence' in relation to the charges previously brought to the Courts is a complete vindication of my publicly stated position that there was never a case to answer. It is most unfortunate that this case was brought before the courts and that it has brought disruption to my personal life and unnecessary reputational damage. I spent five years in the wonderful city of Cardiff and sincerely believe that my contribution to saving the football club from financial meltdown, building both the new stadium and training-ground and taking Cardiff City to three Wembley appearances, speaks for itself. I am proud of my contribution to this city and today walk away from the Courts completely innocent of any wrongdoing. I now go back to Plymouth to finish the job that I started earlier this year in ensuring both their survival and new ownership. In completing this task, just like at Cardiff, I will have proved my critics and doubters wrong."
Argyle's second string went down 2-0 to a vastly more experienced Yeovil Town side in a behind-closed-doors friendly at Home Park this afternoon. Two early goals gave the Glovers the victory against a Pilgrims side made up of young professionals and apprentices. Argyle also featured former goalkeeper Ollie Chenoweth, given permission to make up the numbers by his current side Bideford, and a triallist. Yeovil included several first-team players, including Bondz N'Gala.
Reflecting on Saturday's first win of the season, caretaker-manager Carl Fletcher said the club's first clean sheet was the best thing about the result. "It's a big weight off everyone's shoulders," he said. "We worked a lot with the back four, Walts and the goalie and I'm pleased for them. Defensively we wanted to tighten things up and we did that today. There's still things we've got to work on and there's lots of things we can get better at and do better, but it's a good starting block." Argyle had not scored more than once in a match this season before the win, which saw striker Warren Feeney get his first goal for almost a year, and his first since joining Argyle. "Even if he didn't score, Feeno's work rate was unbelievable at times," Fletch said. "Because we're trying to be a bit more solid he's up there on his own and he's not 6'5" and going to win every header, but he puts himself about and did a great shift for the team."
Simon Walton has put a chequered past behind him to become the new team captain. The 24-year-old, who led out the Pilgrims for the first time on Saturday, said: "It was an unbelievable day all around. I was really grateful to be given a chance to captain the team. But I thought there were 11 captains out there today. Everyone was brilliant, and it's only an armband at the end of the day. I felt I had 10 captains with me. It was brilliant, and I'm proud of everybody." Walton admitted his path to becoming Argyle's captain had not been an orthodox one. "If you had told any Plymouth fan two or three years ago I would be captain they would probably have laughed in your face", he said. "But football does funny things to you, and it throws up little hurdles here and there. You take it as it comes and, like I say, to be given the chance to be captain was a massive honour. I found out about it early in the week. As soon as he (Fletcher) took over I knew. I'm really grateful to be given the chance and it's my turn to pay back the trust and faith in me."
Walton thought the appointment of Fletcher as caretaker boss, assisted by goalkeeper Romain Larrieu as first team coach, had lifted the players. He said: "We all know what Fletch and Ro are about, and it makes it a lot easier. There was a bit of excitement around the place this week. Without being negative about the people who have been here before, I think it gave everybody a little lift. You saw it out there today. Every single one of the lads would have died for each other. I'm sure Fletch and Ro are as proud of all the players as I am. The camaraderie and the togetherness of the lads, I can't put it into words what it's like, and I think it showed today. It's one step on a hell of a long road."
Warren Feeney opened his account for Argyle in the emotional 2-0 win over Macclesfield Town yesterday. Speaking just minutes after the game, the Ulsterman said: "It's been hard. Everyone knows what's gone on off the pitch. There was maybe a bit of a lack of belief in the team, but we always believed we'd get the win. There's a change of manager, with Fletch coming in. I know Fletch well from my Bournemouth days. We had a good week's training and the boys have responded. I thought we looked solid all over the park. The shape was right, which we'd worked on. It's just good to get the first three points and for me, personally, to get my first goal. It's good because it gives you confidence and belief. But there's still a long, long way to go. We don't want to get up and look at the table and still see us bottom. There's still a hell of lot of work to be done. We want to be up and around the top half of the table, pushing for the play offs. This is the season starting for us now and hopefully we can reach them." Feeney played a lone role up front, as he has done many times this season, so his goal was just rewards for his toil in the Argyle frontline. He said: "It's always good to get off the mark. It is hard, because everyone knows I love playing off a big man, to be honest. You're up there but you're fighting for things and sometimes you want a big man with you. At the end of the day, that can't be helped, and I'm just glad to be playing football. I'll play anywhere. It was a great ball in by Conor and I just took a gamble. You don't want to run outside the front post because you're never going to score if you do that. I lost my marker and I knew it was a chance as soon as it came in. You don't want to get too much of a header on it because sometimes you just need to glance it in. It actually hit my shoulder, but I'm not worried. I probably did it well because it wrong-footed the goalkeeper who had come running out. I'm not worried how they go in - I'm just buzzing that I scored. It's always nice to get goals, and I hope it's the first of many for Argyle."
Feeney said that he has admired Argyle from afar for years, and now that he has the chance to wear the green and white for club as well as country, he is determined to do the colours proud. "It's such a fantastic club, this," he said. "I've wanted to come down here for a while, to be honest. I've always enjoyed it down here. They made it a fans' day, today and fair play to the Brighton fans and whoever else came here. At the end of the day they've put it on, we've got a win for them and the atmosphere was fantastic. There's one thing I've said about Plymouth fans, I've always come down here and they've come in numbers and they get behind their team. They've stuck by us, thick and thin. I've only been here two months, but they've been coming all last season, with the club in administration, they've stuck by their team. Hopefully we can kick on now and get a few wins for them, and they will keep supporting us."
Argyle won their first game of the season this afternoon, a 2-0 victory over Macclesfield Town at Home Park. Warren Feeney and Robbie Williams scored the goals. Argyle: Cole, Berry, Nelson, King, Williams, Walton, Daley, Soukouna, Hourihane, Atkinson, Feeney. Subs - Griffiths (not used – Larrieu, Young, Lecointe, Hitchcock). Attendance - 6,005.
Caretaker manager Carl Fletcher believes James Brent is "the right man" to become the new owner of Plymouth Argyle. Brent is close to completing his takeover of the club and today he will watch his first match at Home Park, when the Pilgrims take on Macclesfield Town. Brent will take a seat in the Devonport End after addressing supporters at a meeting in the Pyramid Suite this morning. The manager said: "It will be good to see him at the game today. I think everyone – fans, players, staff – believes he is the right man to take over the club. And the sooner it gets done the better. Obviously, there are a lot of things they have got to sort out, but with him taking over the running of the club, I think the future would look a lot brighter."
Carl Fletcher has welcomed the 'Fans Reunited' initiative, and hoped it would lead to a larger than usual turn-out at Home Park. Supporters from Brighton and Hove Albion have been particularly active in organising the event. A 'Fans United' day was held in February 1997 when Brighton's future as a club was in the balance because of financial turmoil off the pitch. There was widespread support for the event, and it is hoped there will be a similar response this time. Fletch said: "For all this to come together and make a good atmosphere for the players is going to be fantastic. The players are really looking forward to it, and we want to give the fans something to shout about. What everyone has done behind the scenes to get this organised for today is great for the club."
Peter Ridsdale announced today that he will leave the club when James Brent's takeover is complete. In a statement on Argyle's Official Site, he said: "I am delighted that it now appears that James Brent is within sight of being able to complete his takeover of Plymouth Argyle Football Club. James was originally my personal preferred buyer and nothing that has happened over the last six months has changed my mind. On the assumption that he is now able to complete his takeover, it will bring to end the uncertainty that has put the club's very existence in doubt. I have consistently said that my role was to find the right long-term solution for Argyle and, on completion of the takeover by James Brent, I see that as 'job done'. I therefore can confirm that my role as 'Acting Chairman of Plymouth Argyle Football Club' on behalf of the Administrator will finish on the completion of James Brent's takeover. Whilst I have agreed to make myself available to assist James for a limited period of time on a consultancy basis, my job will essentially be complete. I would therefore like to thank the players, staff and supporters for their dedication and loyalty in ensuring that this wonderful club could survive, and for the welcome that they gave to me during my time in Plymouth. I wish everyone connected with Argyle every best wish for the future."
Argyle and Gillingham have agreed to extend Simon King's loan spell at Home Park until 7th November. The 28-year-old joined Argyle on a month's loan in August and was due to go back to the Gills after the trip to Crawley Town on 1 October. "He's a good solid defender and he's done well," Carl Fletcher said. "He has settled in well with the lads and I think he's enjoying being here." Meanwhile Argyle have also extended teenage defender Jamie Richards' loan at non-league Barnstaple Town until 1st December.
Asked about his first match as caretaker manager, Carl Fletcher said: "I don't know how I will feel tomorrow. I think I will be nervous and excited, and a bit of everything really. It's a big challenge for myself and Ro and I'm pretty sure not many managers out there would cherish this kind of job. But we are looking forward to it, and we can't wait for tomorrow to come." Fletcher and Larrieu both have a strong sense of commitment to the Pilgrims after the time they have spent at the club. "We are just here to try to do well for Plymouth Argyle," said the new caretaker manager. "Ro has been here for more than 10 years and this is my third season. Lately we have seen some real tough times, and we know this club doesn't deserve to be in position that it's in. From our point of view, we want to get it across to everyone that we will do everything we can to get Plymouth Argyle back to where we want it to be. It's going to be hard, and there is going to be a lot of blood, sweat and tears along the way, but we are looking forward to it."
Carl Fletcher does not believe the dismissal of Peter Reid will have an adverse affect his squad. He said: "I think you learn in football that a lot of things can change really quickly. One day you can be with someone and the next day they are sold. You kind of get used to it. You have just got to get on with it. We are not dwelling too much on the past. We are just looking to the future now. That's all we can concentrate on. We can't change anything that has happened before, so there is no point worrying about it."
Prospective owner James Brent is to take in his first ever match at Home Park this Saturday, but he will not be watching from the directors' box. He has opted for a seat in the Devonport End to "understand the passion" of the Green Army, as administrators prepare to select a new leading bidder. Akkeron Group chairman Mr Brent, along with acting club chairman Peter Ridsdale, is also set to address fans face-to-face at the ground's Pyramid Suite from 11am, ahead of the 3pm kick-off. Brent said: "I've been keen to come and see a match for a while but it would have been challenging to come earlier – I would have felt very uncomfortable in the circumstances. I'm very much looking forward to it. I want to understand the passion the supporters have for the football club and it feels like an appropriate time. It's clearly a big day on Saturday and it's the first time I've thought I could reasonably do it."
Hundreds of Brighton & Hove Albion supporters, inspired by Argyle fans' support during their own team's plight in 1997, are preparing to make the pilgrimage to Home Park on Saturday as part of a 'Fans Reunited' day – a show of solidarity aimed at highlighting the Pilgrims' fight for survival. Lead administrator Brendan Guilfoyle has been unavailable for comment since last month, but is expected to make a statement tonight or tomorrow. London businessman Paul Buttivant remains in dialogue with administrators – as does Cornwall-based developer Kevin Heaney, despite claiming last week he was out of the race. But figures acting for Mr Brent are understood to have now received legal documents relating to a takeover. A separate consortium backed by millionaire developer Colin Hill is believed to be sidelined following discussions with administrators. And a further group, made up of close friends of late pop superstar Michael Jackson, say they pulled out yesterday. Frontman Matt Fiddes said chief funder Terry George, a high-profile entrepreneur featured on the Times Rich List, had offered £7million up-front and had celebrity names lined for involvement. "But no one returned a single call," said Yelverton-based Mr Fiddes, a former 'Jacko' bodyguard. "They wanted to stop us talking to the press and they wanted proof of funds – but we weren't even given the chance to do that."
Carl Fletcher will be free to take his place in the dug-out for his first game in charge on Saturday. The FA has confirmed that Fletcher's three match suspension as a player does not include a touch-line ban.
Luke Daley is in the running for a prize after being nominated for the Johnstone's Paint Ultimate Finish award. Daley has been nominated for his stunning 30-yard strike for the Pilgrims in the first-round Johnstone's Paint Trophy tie against Exeter City earlier this month.
James Brent has outlined his vision for Plymouth Argyle. His first priority would be to pay the long-suffering staff, closely followed by overseeing Argyle's Football League survival. In the longer term, he believes a return to the Championship and the creation of a sports and leisure hub in Central Park are viable targets. Mr Brent held fruitful talks with major creditors, senior footballers and Plymouth City Council chiefs last week as he pushes forward with his bid to rescue Argyle from administration. He said: "All the discussions with stakeholders have been constructive but there are still challenges to overcome. From my experience, things always come up that delay the process. If we do facilitate a rescue, our short-term aspiration really is to start paying our staff and to be putting in the appropriate corporate structure, but also integrate the club with our existing businesses, to market it well and to drive up short-term revenues." The former Plymouth City Development Company chairman has explained he will not be pumping streams of cash into Argyle, but he aims to put the club back on a sustainable financial footing and give supporters more of a say on how it is run. "We have to clearly address the performance on the pitch and avoid relegation, which is obviously the most realistic aspiration for this year," he told reporters. "I am not a football expert but all the advice I'm given suggests this could and should naturally, if strongly-run, be a Championship club. As far as a board is concerned, we've had some discussions with Peter Ridsdale but no detailed discussions with anyone other than Peter. He has clearly played an important part in keeping the club alive and I would be delighted to have further discussions with him at an appropriate stage." Getting the cost base down and making sure Argyle lives within its means would be priorities under the entrepreneur's stewardship. Development opportunities would come later, but they would include building a new South Stand, working alongside possible landlord, Plymouth City Council. Other sports and leisure facilities could be considered for land the city has earmarked for development in its Central Park Area Action Plan. Brent added: "I feel very confident that the South Stand, which is clearly not in an acceptable state, could be improved in line with the AAP. The AAP acknowledges there should be development in that area, but that it should be limited. I personally think the AAP is absolutely right for the aspirations of the city and that anything we do look at needs to be done sensitively in Central Park. It would be sports and leisure related. I think the Life Centre is a fantastic addition to the city, and the AAP clearly states that the area around it should be the leisure and sporting destination of the city."
Through a statement put out via the League Managers' Association, former manager Peter Reid has reflected on his time at Argyle. "In over 20 years of management, the past 15 months has certainly been the most testing time of my career", he said. "Everyone is fully aware that the club has been embroiled in financial turmoil and that the future of the club has still not been resolved. My thanks must go to the supporters and of course the staff and players who have been working for the last nine months more or less unpaid. Their perseverance and professionalism has been completely admirable in dealing with some virtually impossible circumstances and I can only hope that the future of the club can be preserved with new owners coming in to bring back some much-needed stability." Reid added: "I fully appreciate that football is a results-driven business, but we were operating under such extenuating circumstances, with so many other factors involved, that I do believe it is difficult for team performances to be judged purely on results. Despite the tough times we have all experienced over the past few months in particular, I have enjoyed my time at this great club. I can only wish everyone connected with Plymouth Argyle all the very best for the future. I now look forward to a new challenge in the game."
Romain Larrieu is confident he and Carl Fletcher can meet the challenge of turning around Argyle's fortunes but admitted the revival must come soon. Larrieu said: "It's no secret that I have been looking to get into management once I finished playing football. So, for this opportunity to come along at this stage in my career and also at Plymouth Argyle, well, it's a no-brainer. How could I not agree? So when Carl asked me if I'd be happy to assist him as assistant first-team coach, well, I jumped at it. There are not many management jobs around and I expect there would have been quite a few applications for this position. So, it's nice to have been asked and it's a good opportunity for Carl and myself. The club and the city gets under your skin: it certainly has done in my case. I've watched the Argyle fans at away matches and marvelled at the fantastic support." Larrieu added: "Obviously, we need to get find the balance of stopping conceding goals and start scoring them. We've got a big job on our hands and in terms of numbers of players in the squad we're starting from not a lot. People say the position is desperate but Carl and myself don't agree with that. We share ideas and our football philosophies are also similar and we both agree that the squad has a lot of good players. We need to try and get the guys to believe in themselves – because Carl and myself do. We need a result on Saturday and then, hopefully, we can take it from there."
Argyle and Southend have been charged by the FA after events in the 66th minute of the game last Saturday, when it is alleged that the clubs "failed to ensure that players conducted themselves in an orderly fashion and/or refrained from provocative behaviour". Both sides have until Friday afternoon to respond to the charge.
Carl Fletcher was appointed as Argyle caretaker manager yesterday. A club statement read: 'Following Sunday's announcement regarding the change of Football Manager, Plymouth Argyle Football Club (In Administration) today announces that Carl Fletcher is appointed caretaker manager with immediate effect. Carl Fletcher is club captain and has made no secret of his desire to enter football management 'when the right opportunity arises'. Carl has chosen Romain Larrieu as his first-team coach to assist him in his new position'. Commenting on Carl Fletcher's appointment, Peter Ridsdale said: "Carl has all the right attributes to take on this challenge and I am delighted to be able to confirm his appointment. Whilst initially taking up the position of caretaker manager, there is no reason, if successful, why Carl cannot make this position a permanent appointment. Carl will be given every possible assistance to enable him to succeed in his new role." Fletcher said: "I am grateful to be offered the opportunity to take on the manager's role at Argyle and can assure all of our supporters that I will give nothing short of 100% in attempting to turn round our fortunes on the field. I believe that, with the current squad and perhaps one or two additions, there is no reason why we cannot return to winning ways sooner, rather than later. Our supporters have been magnificent during a turbulent period in our history and I am sure that, with their continued help, we can quickly put the past behind us and start to climb back up the Football League. I hope that as many Argyle fans as possible will turn out for our home game this coming Saturday to show their support."
The appointment of Carl Fletcher as the caretaker manager of Argyle is not a stop-gap measure, Peter Ridsdale has insisted. He said: "Carl has made no secret of the fact he has always been looking to go into football management when he came to the twilight of his career. I would hate to suggest he's at the end of his career because, clearly, he is very much part of our playing squad as the captain. But when these opportunities arise you have to decide whether to take them. We had a long chat this morning and I'm delighted to say Carl has accepted the appointment of caretaker manager. And when you say, 'What does caretaker mean?' I think it's very simple and straightforward. If you are winning football matches and you are doing well the caretaker tag disappears very quickly. This isn't a stop-gap because we have got somebody in mind when we come out of administration, which we sincerely hope will be in the very near future now. This is an opportunity for Carl, and for Romain working with him, to demonstrate we have no need to look any further than within the club, but obviously time will tell. As yesterday's decision highlighted, this is a results-based business, and if results are going well we have all got more security of tenure. And if results aren't going well none of us have got security of tenure. Today is a very positive announcement. It's promoting somebody from within, somebody who clearly cares passionately about this football club, and somebody who I know the Argyle fans will get behind." Fletcher's first game as manager will be against Macclesfield Town at Home Park on Saturday. Ridsdale added: "We have got a very important home game on Saturday, where we have got a lot of other fans from other football clubs coming along to show their solidarity with our current predicament. I'm just hoping those Argyle fans who have stayed away in recent weeks, for whatever reason, will see this as the start of a new chapter and come along and support Carl, Romain and the rest of the playing squad, in what we hope will be an opportunity to move back up the league. I'm absolutely convinced that whatever problems we have got, the squad we have put together are better than the current position in the league table. But I'm not the first chairman to say that over the years. The only thing that matters is the league table itself, and it doesn't lie. Today we are sitting 92nd in the professional leagues, and 72nd in the Football League, and we certainly don't want to be anywhere near there when the season concludes." Ridsdale sounded out Fletcher about becoming the caretaker manager on Sunday morning. He said: "I phoned him from the car and asked if he would be free to speak to today, and would he at least think about what the answer might be were I be able to offer him this type of role. I had a brief conversation with Romain yesterday afternoon as well. I drove down late last night and Carl and I have been together for the last four hours, and then Romain joined us. So the first time Carl was aware of the situation was not long after I had left Peter yesterday."
Carl Fletcher has put his support behind the takeover bid for Argyle by James Brent. Fletcher and Romain Larrieu had a meeting with Brent last Thursday, and they were impressed. Fletcher said: "It's the first time someone has come to speak to me and Ro directly, and just tell us the situation. It was straight from the horse's mouth, without going through 12 other people or reading it in the papers, so it was very nice of him to do that. I think, if you ask anyone who has met him, they always say he's a nice guy and very straight down the line. Obviously, he's a successful businessman and is good at doing that. I think that's something the club needs, someone to run it properly. There were some statements put out last Friday, about a few things, such as the Council buying the stadium, which is good news. Hopefully, fingers crossed, it will get sorted." Fletcher admitted a swift resolution to the takeover saga would be a relief to all at Home Park. He said: "It would help the lads concentrate on the pitch, really, rather than worrying about everything else. It affects everyone in different ways." In a statement issued by Brent last Friday, he complimented 'the staff, players and their families on the sacrifices that they have made'. That struck a particular chord with family man Fletcher. He added: "He mentioned the staff and players' families, because they have had to go through it as well. They don't work here, but it all affects them. I think he's well aware, as are the fans, that, if it wasn't for the staff and players doing what they have done, there wouldn't be a club. Sometimes it's nice to be recognised like that. We just hope he gets his bid over the line."
Carl Fletcher wants to put smiles back on faces at Argyle, after taking over as caretaker boss yesterday. "It's a great opportunity for myself and Ro," he said. "Ro has been here nearly 11 years, and this is my third season. With everything that has gone on, off the field and on it, we just want to put smiles back on everyone's faces. Talking to one another, as older pros do, we've got a lot of ideas between us. We just want to give 100 per cent every day and try to push this team up the table. We've got a lot of good players here, better than the position we're in at the minute. I don't think we would have taken the positions if we thought any different to that. We're just excited by the challenge ahead and we're looking forward to everything that is thrown in front of us. For us to achieve anything, it's not going to be me and Ro, it's going to be everyone. It's going to be the players, the management staff, all the people who work in the office, the groundsmen, everyone. We want to get this dark cloud away from the city, away from the football club, and have a brighter future." Fletcher has enjoyed a successful career as a player, but is now ready for a new test. He said: "Management is something I've thought about for a few years now. I think it's just one of those things you do as you get older. As a player, you mature and you see the game differently. When Peter offered me the job, I had to think about things, but it didn't take me long. Me and Ro are delighted to get this opportunity. There are going to be highs and lows, and we are going to have to learn as we go along, so to speak. But we're excited for the challenge and will be working non-stop to put things right. We both did coaching badges in the summer, and I can only speak for myself, but you get a bug for it." Fletcher and Larrieu will discuss whether to continue in playing roles now they have taken on management and coaching responsibilities. Fletcher added: "We will decide between us and see how things go, whether we'll play or not play. That's something for us to look at in the future." Romain Larrieu said: "We have a strong belief in ourselves and, having been a football player for over half my life, you do learn a lot. I've had so many managers and I've always been thinking about the game. I'm not one of those players who goes home and does something else. I don't switch off from football very easily. I can't see why we can't do it. We know the lads, and I believe there is a good group of lads here. We will see, but I'm confident we can do it."
Romain Larrieu would be happy to take over Argyle on an interim basis, if asked. "I would because that is part of the game that I'm interested in," he said. "You need to start somewhere so if I was asked I'd be honoured and be more than happy. You always feel sad for the manager because part of me wishes he could have been in the club in a better position because he could have done justice to himself. There was a feeling of inevitability because whatever we tried we kept on losing." Larrieu believes the squad are strong enough to get out of their current position, and added: "There is a lot of young players and I feel that it is unfair because they were asked to do men's jobs and they've been thrown in at the deep end. But I can see enough quality in them to turn it around, so we shall see."
Carl Fletcher and Romain Larrieu are expected to assume interim control of first-team affairs at Argyle, following the decision to sack Peter Reid. Ridsdale paid tribute to the professionalism of Reid during a turbulent his stint as boss and, for his part, Reid insisted he had been proud to be Argyle's manager and wished the club well for the future. Ridsdale said: "I think Peter has been outstanding. He has been very professional in the way he has handled himself through extremely difficult times. He could easily have walked out on the club a number of times because the job wasn't what he was sold, but he didn't. It has been very difficult for him but, despite that, we are judged by our results on the pitch." Ridsdale told Reid of his decision to relieve him of his duties when the pair met yesterday morning, at a location in the north of England. "It's a credit to him that, after I told him what I had decided to do, we sat for an hour, had a cup of coffee and just chatted about football," Ridsdale said. "That is testimony to the professionalism of the man." Reid said: "I'm disappointed I couldn't see the job through. The results haven't been good enough, whatever the extenuating circumstances. But I'm really proud to have been the manager of Plymouth Argyle. I know what the club means to the area and the priority, as I have said all along, is for it to keep going." Argyle have not won any of their last 14 games, and Reid added: "I was embarrassed we kept getting beaten, because losing is just not in my nature, but the supporters have kept getting behind us. I have been privileged to play for and manage some so-called big clubs, but none have had fans as loyal and passionate, and who travel so far to away games, as those at Argyle. It's just amazing, and that's why this football club has got to keep going. I wish everyone well." Ridsdale confirmed he hoped to hold a press conference this afternoon to announce plans for the interim management of the team, but he would not comment on whether Fletcher and Larrieu would be taking over. The permanent appointment of a new manager will be one of the first decisions for any new owner of Argyle. Ridsdale said: "Out of courtesy, I did speak to James Brent yesterday morning because he's in pole position. I took James through what I was planning on doing. I know there are other interested parties, but I'm unaware how far down the line they are, so I didn't talk to any of them. I spent a lot of time with James last week, and he would appear to be well down the line." Ridsdale also contacted Brendan Guilfoyle, before telling Reid of his decision. "He confirmed his agreement to it because, technically, he's the employer," Ridsdale added. Ridsdale, meanwhile, ruled out any involvement at Home Park for Paul Hart. The pair have had close links in the past, but, asked about the chances of Hart taking on a role with Argyle either now or in the near future, Ridsdale replied: "None whatsoever."
Paul Sturrock has promised to reveal the reasons why he believes Argyle have ended up on the brink of financial oblivion. The former Argyle manager is not ready to elaborate on that yet, but he declared: "What I know, the rest of the world will know some day." Sturrock admitted he had played a part in the demise of the club but feels there are others who should take most of the responsibility for Argyle ending up in administration, with debts of £17 million. He said: "It's a big disappointment to me that I was involved in the demise of this football club. I wish the board had listened to certain things I had said. I don't think the football club would be in same situation as it is now. But that didn't happen, and that's another story for another day." Sturrock pointed to the January transfer window of 2008 as a turning point in the history of the club. He said: "I think you have got to remember one thing, we sold £7 million worth of players. Trying to get the same standard into the football club was impossible. I had to take lesser players and hope I could mould them into a unit. I did the first year, when I brought in some loans, and I was going to do the same in the second year. There is a lot to be said, but on another day." Sturrock had close ties to the staff at Home Park, and added: "I feel for the people who are not there any longer. They were the backbone and the heart of that football club. They didn't deserve to get what has happened to them. And I feel for the staff who are there at this minute because they are having to work night and day, without pay, to keep the club surviving."
Peter Ridsdale took the decision to sack Peter Reid following the defeat at Southend United on Saturday. He made the decision on Saturday evening, and informed the club's administrators, prospective new owner James Brent and Reid himself yesterday morning. Brent stated that he did not play an active part in the decision and said: "Peter did have the courtesy of speaking to me in advance, but not to ask me permission. I suspect the truth is I probably did have a veto but, while I probably could have stopped it if I thought it was the wrong thing, it was his decision. I am not in a position to have been involved in the decision but I have respect for Peter Ridsdale's decision-making capabilities in relation to football. Clearly Peter Reid has been absolutely exceptional in the way in which he's handled himself in the most trying circumstances, and it's been an honour to meet with him in person. I wish him all the best for the future."
Ladji Soukouna was substituted in the second half of the game at Southend because of a groin problem. After the match Peter Reid said: "He was feeling his groin at half-time and wasn't moving as freely as he usually does. So we decided to bring him off as a precaution. I didn't want him to do the groin and be out for six weeks or so."
Argyle today announced that Peter Reid has been sacked. The statement released by Peter Ridsdale read: Peter joined Argyle as manager at the beginning of the 2010-11 season and inherited an unsustainable wage bill and a club that with the benefit of hindsight was in financial meltdown. During the last 15 months Peter has been the ultimate professional and has gone about his duties without complaining and has had to cope with more in a short period of time than most managers have to put up with in a whole career. Ultimately however, whatever the challenges, football is a results business and, today, Argyle sit bottom of the Football League with only one point out of 27. It is crucial that we give ourselves time to attempt to preserve Football League status and therefore it is felt that a change of manager now is the only option. Peter leaves with our unreserved thanks for his contribution in helping keep the club alive during this turbulent period and he leaves with our very best wishes for the future. An announcement will be made within the next 24 hours with regard to interim arrangements for the management of the first team.
Carl Fletcher was sent off for the first time in his career in the defeat at Southend United yesterday. Following a foul on Ladjie Soukouna in the 66th minute, Fletcher grabbed Southend's Michael Timlin by the throat, leaving the referee with no option. "Everything, the whole situation, got to me today, I think," he said. "We have not won a game; we haven't been paid; and the referee was having a shocker, everything just built up." After the match, Fletcher, who now misses the next three matches, made sure that everyone knew that he regretted his impulse. "I should be more mature and I've apologised to the staff and the players," he said. "It's not acceptable. I should be more experienced. It just got to boiling-point. It is not like me, in life or anything. I just flipped a little bit. I apologised to the Southend lad as well after the game." Fletch was also frustrated by another defeat, and added: "We put in a good first half performance. We looked quite solid, and maybe could have nicked a goal. Southend have not played us off the park or anything, then it's just a long ball that wasn't dealt with and it's a penalty. It seems to be the way it's going for us at the moment and we need to be better at those basic things. They are things we have to work on and improve and take into the next game."
Peter Reid admitted the same old problems caused his team's downfall at Southend. Reid suggested afterwards that a failure to open the scoring proved critical, and he said: "We had a chat about that at half-time. You've got to work to get into those positions and we didn't do it. I thought we were the better side first half. Some of our play was good, but we gave the ball away in certain areas too easily. The penalty was bad defending, and it's cost us. You've got to go and clear it, but we didn't do it. Before the penalty, I wasn't too concerned. You're going to come under some pressure in any game away from home but I thought we were handling it. When they got that one in, it was always going to be a struggle. We are struggling to score goals. As much as we huffed and puffed, it wasn't to be today." Within two minutes of conceding a goal, Argyle also lost Carl Fletcher. Reid said: "It was our foul but a couple of our players got involved and the referee deemed it was Carl Fletcher and that it deserved a red card. He's just apologised. I think the red mist has come out but you've got to try and be disciplined, and we lost it. Everybody's feeling it and there is a point when human beings can go." Peter Gilbert's goal 10 minutes from time was the 19th Argyle have conceded already this season, and Reid admitted a lack of concentration at the back has become a recurring issue in his side. He said: "We need to keep clean sheets too and we're not doing that at the moment. We're short on bodies but we've got a week to get everybody right and we've got to be a lot more disciplined in our defending. If we do that, we might have a chance of winning a game. We've got to learn to defend better. Two dead balls again, it keeps happening. We switch off and we're getting punished. I'm watching the game waiting for it to happen the longer we don't score. Only we can get us out of this. For the second goal we're a man short but there's enough bodies around to look around and pick up men. Communication. But we haven't done it. I don't like getting beat. It's difficult, but you've always got to keep going. We've got a home game coming up and we need to start picking up points, which we're not doing at the moment. Reid explained the absence of Warren Feeney from the squad after he had been in contention for a starting place. He said: "He thought a knee problem was going to be alright but he woke up and it was swollen and sore this morning."
The Argyle youth team lost 2-1 to Bristol Rovers at Haye Road yesterday, the goal scored by Isaac Vassell. Argyle: Walton, Elcock, Bradley, Pearce, Purrington, Harper-Penman, Hart, Copp, Clarvis, Vassell, Sims. Subs - Bentley, Ramday, Harvey.
Argyle lost 2-0 at Southend United. Argyle: Cole, Berry, King, Nelson, Gibson, Daley, Fletcher, Hourihane, Soukouna, Atkinson, Griffiths. Subs - Hitchcock, Lecointe, Walton (not used – Larrieu, Williams) Attendance - 4,984.
There was mixed team news for Peter Reid ahead of Argyle's game at Southend United today. He said: "Simon King and Ladjie Soukouna are available, which is really good news for us. Simon Walton is just feeling his knee after a tackle early on against Barnet." Argyle face the long trip to Southend after a midweek game at Barnet, but Reid does not want anyone to use the back-to-back away fixtures as an excuse for a poor performance. He said: "I'm not going on about how long the trip is, what time we got back from Barnet, and being on the coach for so much time. Everything else is immaterial. We've got to try to win the game." Argyle have lost their last seven league games, which is just two short of the club record for the longest sequence of defeats, and the request from administrators on Thursday for the players and staff to agree to a further wage deferral was a distraction they could have done without. Reid said: "It's a frustrating time for the players, trying to get paid. I'm just trying to concentrate on the game. It's difficult for the players and staff, but this is one of the worst runs in the club's history, and we can try to do something about that by defending properly and, when we get chances, we stick them in the net. I'm trying to get the players to concentrate on that because I think we are better than seven defeats on the trot. Yes, we haven't defended well so we need to improve that. It's hard for everyone concerned but, hopefully, it will be a release for them to get out on the pitch against Southend and try to keep a clean-sheet and do a job. It's only us, as a group, who are going to get results on the pitch, and that's the most important thing." The uncertainty over the future of Argyle has taken a toll and Reid is hoping for a speedy resolution to takeover talks. "We're all feeling it," he added. "We can't affect what's going on in terms of somebody coming in to buy the club. But if we could get a result, I think it would give everyone a massive lift, and that's what we have got to try to do."
Romain Larrieu will come across some familiar faces on the opposing side when Argyle take on Southend United today. Southend's manager is Paul Sturrock and ex-Argyle players Chris Barker, Peter Gilbert, Ryan Leonard and Blair Sturrock are all expected to be in the Southend squad today. Larrieu said: "I'm looking forward to this game for many reasons. I'm going to see some people I haven't seen in a while and I do hope to put one over them, I really do. We need a win one way or another. Tuesday was another disappointment. We need a break, an own goal, or something like that, would be nice. It's nothing against any player. It's in us. Those players can score goals. That's not the point. It's going to happen."
James Brent's Akkeron Group released the following statement today: "As previously announced, discussions have been held with representatives of the major stakeholders in PAFC. The intention of these discussions was to identify any obstacles to implementing a rescue of PAFC. All the discussions have been constructive and no roadblocks have been identified. The issues are however complicated and the various stakeholders need to obtain their required approvals to implement a transaction. Akkeron is comfortable that all parties are working hard to support the club, but there is no guarantee that a rescue can be implemented." James Brent added: "A number of stakeholders are working hard to save the Club. I thank them for their efforts. I am pleased that no 'red lights' have been identified and I am more hopeful today than a week ago that the Club can defy liquidation. Most of all, however, I would compliment the staff, players and their families on the sacrifices that they have made. I have never seen such employee sacrifice before, nor do I want to see it again. I would urge all parties now to push quickly towards the finishing line and move the Club to a brighter future."
Peter Ridsdale welcomed the announcement from James Brent, and said: ''The staff, players and supporters of Plymouth Argyle have been living a nightmare for almost 12 months now and today's announcement from James Brent suggests that there is a real possibility of a successful outcome. James can be assured of everyone's full co-operation to bring this matter to a swift and positive conclusion. The last year has done tremendous damage to Plymouth Argyle but the spirit that has been shown by everyone in keeping the club alive will be harnessed to rebuild and to provide a club that the City of Plymouth and supporters can continue to be truly proud of."
In response to the recent news that a private sector deal securing the future of Argyle has still not been forthcoming, Plymouth City Council leader Vivien Pengelly issued the following statement today: "Plymouth City Council is deeply saddened by the current situation with regards the status of Plymouth Argyle Football Club. It is extremely disappointed that no private sector funded solution has yet been forthcoming to ensure the survival of the city's 125 year old professional football club. The City Council would like to be clear that it considers it important that a city the size and status of Plymouth should not, if at all possible, be without a professional football club. We are therefore prepared to work to help ensure the survival of the club and protect wider community benefits. That would include the consideration of the purchase of Home Park on a commercial basis. Any decision would of course have to be subject to appropriate due diligence checks and Council approval."
Peter Reid will not let off-field distractions become an excuse for a poor performance at Southend tomorrow. "I don't want excuses," he said. "I just want to win a football match. Everything is immaterial, we've got to try and win the game. I'm just trying to concentrate on the game on Saturday and it's difficult. I'm not trying to deflect anything, because it is difficult for staff and players, but it's the worst run in the club's history and we can try and do something about that. So I'm just trying to concentrate on the football, as difficult as it is for everybody. We're better than six defeats on the trot. We haven't defended well, so we need to improve that, but hopefully it'll be a release for them to get out on the pitch against Southend and try and keep a clean sheet and try and do a job. As hard as it is for everyone, that's what we've got to do because it's only us as a group who are going to get results on the pitch and that's the most important thing. When you're trying to defend dead-ball situations, the administrators aren't in there to head it out; the defenders are, so we've got to concentrate on that. That may sound cold-hearted or a bit cynical but we can affect that - we can defend properly and, when we get chances, we can stick it in the end - so that's from my point of view trying to get the players to buy into that. We can't affect what's going in terms of somebody coming in to buy the club. But, if we can get a result, I think it will give everyone a massive, massive lift, so that's what we've got try and do. We've got to do it on the football pitch and that's what we've got to concentrate on. It's driving me mad. I'm not the best loser in the world, but it's happening too many times. It's too easy and we've got to address that situation." Peter welcomes Ladjie Soukouna back from a suspension, while Simon King has recovered from a hip-flexor problem. Simon Walton hurt his knee in the defeat at Barnet and looks set to miss out.
Romain Larrieu and Carl Fletcher met James Brent in Plymouth yesterday morning, the talks coming as administrators asked players and staff to further waive the remaining 60 per cent of the wages they are owed for September until the 26th, a week on Monday. It is hoped that, by then, Brent will be in a position to push ahead with a takeover of the club. Most, if not all of the players, are expected to agree to the request, following advice from the PFA. Larrieu said: "Carl and I met James Brent yesterday morning. He wanted to see us because we are the team and club captain and to give us some information. At first hand, he explained everything in a very straightforward way. It wasn't all nice and rosy news for everyone, but he told us where he is and where he wants to go. It's all still going through my head. My brain is fried. I can't really tell you much of what he said because there was a lot of complicated stuff. But it was interesting to be there and to listen to someone who seems to know what he wants. Hopefully, he will complete a takeover in no time. That's what he wants to do. He doesn't want it to be dragging on. From all the information I get, there are quite a lot of positives coming out from the first few hurdles that he has tried to jump. But it's not going to happen overnight because I think there is a lot of paperwork involved, and signing to be done, but we need it resolved." Argyle have not paid full wages to their players since December. In the meantime, the PFA have provided some financial assistance. Larrieu said: "Last season, when the PFA stepped in and the club gave 25 or 30 per cent of our wages, most of the team were on Championship wages. But the new players who have been signed aren't on that money, so when they get 40 per cent it doesn't get them very far. I have raised that with the PFA, and said they must find a way to get some money from somewhere into those accounts because we are struggling. It's as simple as that." Larrieu was also put in the picture about the latest developments in telephone conversations with John Bramhall, the PFA's assistant chief executive, yesterday. He added: "It's a situation where they are trying to complete a takeover deal, which takes a massive amount of time and energy. We understand that. They do believe this next period will give them enough time to complete James Brent's bid. We have been looking into it, and I talked to John Bramhall for most of yesterday morning. And I trained as well. They have given us their advice on this new waiver, which we are taking on board. We have asked for more clarity to what's going to happen beyond the 26th, and we are waiting to hear back. But I think the majority of the boys are prepared to sign the waiver if we get those points clarified, which I'm not going to discuss here."
James Brent is closing in on a takeover of Argyle following a week of talks. He is expected to make a statement today having met key creditors, Argyle's players and council chiefs in an effort to complete the deal. Brent said: "We have had very constructive meetings. There are no obvious red lights to stop us progressing and we look forward to finding a solution, but nothing is guaranteed. We've spoken to every key stakeholder and I think every one, in principle, wants to see the club saved."
James Brent says that talks with creditors are continuing and are 'constructive'. He has been in talks with stakeholders in Argyle for the last week after he was invited to resubmit a bid by the club's administrators. Brent says he will still decide by Friday whether a bid to take the club out of administration is viable. "I've spoken to all the stakeholders and everyone is very constructive," he said. "There are a number of stakeholders and clearly to make an acquisition we need definitive agreement, and until we get definitive agreement we can't get it done. I've ended the week happier than I started it. Rather than quietly confident I'm quietly hopeful. It is complicated. It will take weeks rather than days to close something, and until it's done, it's not done. I've ended the week happier than I started it. There's no saying if something will blow up tomorrow or Monday that won't become a tank trap, but there's none in sight at the moment."
Romain Larrieu insists that no one is panicking about Argyle's start to the season on the pitch. "Very young players are being asked to learn their trade on a Saturday afternoon, but they have been coping really well and are improving with every game," he said. "There are a few older heads here, including myself, that are trying to guide them through as best as we can, but it is a tough school. We aren't worried about what is happening on the pitch too much because we are moving in the right direction and there is still a lot of football to be played this season."
Peter Reid criticised his side's defending following the defeat at Barnet on Tuesday. He said: "We have got to learn to defend better than that. We can't give goals away cheaply. If Barnet had got good goals I would hold my hands up, but it was poor from our point of view. And then we have had opportunities, but no cutting edge. We have just got to get better at defending because it's too easy to score against us. I'm sounding like a broken record, saying the same thing week-in, week-out. We are conceding bad goals and not sticking it in the net at the other end. We keep on working on the training ground but we keep on making the same mistakes. There is a lack of confidence. Is there a lack of belief? It looks like that at the moment." Reid added: "The only reason they have stuck long throws in is because the match reports on us have said we are suspect at them, so we have got to handle it. It's our responsibility to deal with that, and we haven't dealt with that." Argyle were without Simon King against Barnet because of a hip injury. Ben Gibson was recalled to the team and he and Simon Walton became the seventh different pairing to start a match at centre-back this season. Reid, however, does not attribute Argyle's poor defensive record to the changing personnel. He said: "If you keep conceding, there is no use keeping the same back four. If someone throws a ball into the box, you have got to compete for it and it doesn't matter who you have got there. You compete for it and head it clear. We aren't doing that. And when it drops, we don't win a second ball. We have got to get from somewhere a will to not to concede. We are conceding too easily. It's driving me crackers, it must be driving the players crackers, and it must be driving the supporters crackers. I don't think we deserved to lose, but at the end of the day it's Barnet 2 Argyle 0. What more can I say?" Argyle created several chances against Barnet but could not take any of them. Reid added: "We played some good stuff, were easy on the eye and we knocked balls into the box but we can't score. If we get opportunities we have certainly got to work the 'keeper. Sometimes when you play football you aren't going to get a goal, so it's important to keep a clean sheet, but we can't do that." Argyle thought they should have been awarded a penalty, shortly after Barnet went 2-0 up in the 64th minute. Warren Feeney got on the end of a long clearance from Romain Larrieu and appeared to be pushed over by the centre-back, but the referee allowed play to continue. Reid said: "Feeney should have just smashed it in the net and not given him the opportunity not to make that decision. But that happens when you are struggling. You don't get those decisions. I would rather not comment on referees." One plus point for Reid against Barnet was the performance of Jamie Griffiths. He said: "The kid played well. He was a threat and he handled the ball well. I was pleased for him. Even though we got beat, I thought he did himself no harm. He did well for us."
Kevin Heaney is out of the race to buy Argyle as new potential bidders emerge. James Brent appears to be closing in on a deal to rescue the club but reports suggest names including Terry Venables and Uri Geller have been involved in discussions over the future of Argyle this week. Heaney last night admitted defeat in the takeover talks, and said: "Whoever takes over Plymouth Argyle, all I wish them is the very best. Nothing would make me happier than to see a buyer for Argyle who's got more resources and would do better. I gave it my heart and soul and I think the true fans all respect that I've done my best. At the end of the day, the club is bigger than any one person." Despite Brent being in pole position, a consortium including several public figures is being assembled by the former bodyguard of Michael Jackson. Matt Fiddes, who lives near Plymouth, has been in talks with entrepreneur Terry George and the pair are due to fly into Plymouth next week, as Fiddes prepares to approach Uri Geller for an advisory role. He is even considering contacting Mohamed Al-Fayed. Fiddes said: "This is about a rescue. We are serious and we have the people who are wealthy enough." George confirmed: "I am investigating rescuing Plymouth Argyle. We are in serious talks with major players." Meanwhile, two Middle Eastern investors held talks in the capital yesterday with figures linked to former club chiefs. Keith Todd and Roy Gardner were involved in an aborted bid for the club through Affinity Sports Finance in March. The mystery investors are set for further discussions with figures involved in that bid later this week, though it does not involve Affinity itself. And a separate consortium which made its expression of interest to Brendan Guilfoyle last week was expected to provide its proof of funding late last night. Reports suggest that group includes Gary Calder and Colin Hill. Calder has previously been chief executive of Weymouth and chairman of Hornchurch and Rushden & Diamonds. Hill, a businessman and hotelier, used to own Peterborough United's stadium. A consortium led by Paul Buttivant would need at least four weeks to strike a deal. He met with Peter Ridsdale yesterday, but says hold-ups in obtaining financial information has held up his interest.
Argyle lost 2-0 at Barnet. Argyle: Larrieu, Nelson, Walton, Gibson, Williams, Daley, Fletcher, Hourihane, Atkinson, Griffiths, Feeney. Subs - Lecointe (not used – Cole, Berry, Hitchcock, Young). Attendance - 1,849.
James Brent says he expects to know by the end of the week if he will be able to do a deal to rescue Argyle. "We're spending this week gathering views of key stakeholders," he said. "We hope to be in a position by the end of this week to know whether to participate in the rescue of the club. I've promised by Friday morning that I'll let people know if there is anything I can do after discussing it with the key stakeholders." Players and staff will be briefed on the latest situation on Thursday by Peter Ridsdale, but he said rumours that players were due to be paid a proportion of their wages on Thursday were not true. "The players are not due to be paid until the end of the month," he said. And he stated that the situation regarding a take over of the club was 'moving so fast it might change later this afternoon'. "I'm facilitating anyone who wants to put a bid in for the club," he added.
James Brent is due to meet banking chiefs today in a bid to press ahead with a takeover of Argyle, but reports suggest there are now several parties interested in the club. Brent, alongside Peter Ridsdale, met the PFA yesterday and was expected to be in London today for discussions with Lombard over a £2.1million secured debt that must be settled to save the club. Brent's bid, originally tabled in March, would see the mortgage lender offered a six-figure sum in repayment, substantially less than has been put to Lombard by failed bidder Bishop International Limited. A rival consortium led by Paul Buttivant has also re-tabled its offer, saying it needs just four weeks to complete a takeover. But Buttivant says he is still awaiting basic financial information, such as payroll costs and staffing numbers, from administrators. It is understood a further expression of interest has now been made to the club's administrators. Contact was made last week, though it is unclear who is behind the interest. A group of French investors have also been sounding out the possibility of buying Argyle. And talks were ongoing last night involving a separate consortium with past links to football. Meanwhile, Ridsdale's future at Home Park appears uncertain. He reportedly met with Everton owner Bill Kenwright last week and is reportedly meeting figures from other English clubs in London this morning.
Simon Walton will be part of Argyle's squad for the game at Barnet tonight, despite his reaction to being substituted against Port Vale on Saturday. Peter Reid did not hold a pre-match Press conference yesterday because he was on a scouting trip but his brother, Argyle coach Shaun, confirmed Walton would be included in the squad. He said: "Simon will have his own reasons for what he did. He felt hard done by, being dragged off. But it was a tactical change we had to make because they were getting at us too easily. Simon is a good lad, and if he wasn't disappointed, I would be very disappointed, and so would the manager. He showed his frustration. I think he regrets what he did, but he's in the squad as normal." Carl Fletcher replaced Walton after being surprisingly left out of the starting line-up. Reid insisted that leaving Fletcher out against Vale, and then sending him on as a replacement before half-time, had been carefully thought out. He said: "They were decisions made by the manager for the good of the football club. Managers are paid to make these decisions, and sometimes they work and sometimes they don't. Obviously, we don't expect the boys to be happy, but it's part and parcel of football." Barnet are 22nd in the table, five points above Argyle, so the game is hugely important, even at this stage of the campaign. Reid said: "Every game is important at the minute. We are fighting for our lives, and we realise that. We have got two important games coming up and that's why we tried to rest Fletch. I know that sounds strange with the predicament we are in, but Fletch is a key player for us. We looked at these two games and that might have been in the manager's mind when he made the decision about him." Ben Gibson is available after a minor strain and Reid was also hopeful Simon King would be fit after being substituted against Port Vale because of a sore hip. Reid said: "I had a few major injuries when I was a player and when you come back you do feel things here and there. Kingy has got to get match fit, and the more minutes he spends on the pitch the better he will be for it." Reid admitted Argyle's six successive league defeats had taken its toll on the players, in addition to all the off-the-pitch problems at the club. He added: "They are down, but they realise the only way to get out of it is by playing football and getting together. A siege mentality comes into it now. We are in it together, let's get out of it together."
Argyle suffered a club record seventh successive defeat at Home Park when they lost to Port Vale on Saturday and Peter Reid admitted the performance had been a poor one, but did not want to be too critical of the players. He said: "We didn't win enough second balls. Their front men got hold of it too much. But what do you do? I don't think you can steam into these players. We have just got to get the best out of them. It's no use hammering anybody." Vale striker Marc Richards was sent-off for violent conduct after an off-the-ball clash with Warren Feeney, and Reid said: "I didn't see the incident. After that, we huffed and puffed but we didn't have the desire to open them up. We played in front of them. When we did get in behind them, we struggled to get a quality cross in. You wouldn't believe we have been practising crossing and finishing virtually all season. And when we got a quality cross in, we didn't get on the end of it. Argyle have not won at Home Park since April 25th, beating a record which was set in 1947. Reid added: "The club have been in administration since March, and that hasn't happened before. That tells its own story." Vale's first goal came in the 27th minute after a long throw into the Argyle penalty area. Reid was last week. He said: "You can only work on it, and you can only make players aware of it and try to nullify those situations. But we haven't won a second ball and it was a good strike. You would have thought the sending-off would have given us a chance, but we weren't good enough. We just didn't cause them enough problems." It became 2-0 to Vale after Ladjie Soukouna conceded a needless penalty in the closing stages of the game. He lost possession inside his penalty area to Rob Taylor and then tripped him up. Not only did the referee award a spot kick, he also sent-off Soukouna, which means he is suspended for the trip to Barnet tomorrow. Reid had no complaints about either of those decisions and said: "Ladjie has done alright for us, but that's just a bit of inexperience. It's a penalty, and I have got no argument about it." Argyle had two good penalty appeals waved away by Pawson in the first half and Reid added: "He hasn't given them so it's a waste of time talking about it." Simon King made his home debut for Argyle, but lasted only 60 minutes as he was struggling with a hip problem and was replaced by Durrell Berry.
Argyle remain four points adrift at the bottom of League Two following the defeat by Port Vale. After the game Peter Reid said: "All I want the players to do is give me everything they've got. Did they do it today? I think they did, but they are shell-shocked. What is the reason for that? Is it because they have been getting beat? Is it the whole situation? I think that's one you should ask the players. If you are asking the manager, I think the financial stuff has affected them, and that's without making excuses, because they should be better than they were today. We should win tackles, and you should have the desire so that, when you play a ball to somebody, you show again. There were no one-twos, and that's what we do in training. We pass and move and we try to get crosses in but, for some reason, the players just can't seem to lift their legs when they go out there. We've just got to stick together. Whatever happens, we have got to show a spirit amongst us. Hand on heart, I don't think we did that out there against Port Vale. I know what's going on. I do understand. I'm in the same boat with wages. I've never known anything like it in my football career, but there is only one way to put it right. We've got to show more desire and we've got to get together. That's what we'll try to do in these two difficult games coming up."
Peter Reid has admitted that he was 'disappointed' by Simon Walton's reaction to being substituted during Argyle's defeat to Port Vale. Walton was withdrawn before half-time as Reid brought on Carl Fletcher and moved Ladjie Soukouna to central defence. As he left the field, he removed his shirt and was visibly unhappy with the decision. In a reference to the club's financial position, Reid joked: "Well, I won't be fining him! I just wanted more legs in there, and it didn't really work out. I thought they got out too easily with their front men getting hold of it, and that's why I made the change before half time. He showed a bit of desire. He showed more desire there than he did on the pitch. It's disappoints me more than anything, because we're all in this together. I don't leave Carl Fletcher out because I don't like him, or drag Simon Walton out because I don't like him or drop Ro because I don't want him. I made decisions trying to shuffle the pack. We've got three games in seven days, including this one. I just thought with them getting out I needed to do something about it. I did it, and obviously Simon wasn't happy with my decision."
Matt Lecointe made his full first team debut for Argyle yesterday, and his performance was one of the highlights on a miserable afternoon. Peter Reid said: "Young Tom has done well at Exeter but found it difficult at Burton, so I decided to give Matt a go at home, and I thought he did alright. It was difficult for him. He had one chance where he usually gets a good connection on it. I think he was feeling it a bit, which he is likely to do, considering his age. To be fair to him, I think he can be really pleased with what he did."
Argyle lost 2-0 to Port Vale at Home Park. Argyle: Larrieu, Nelson, Walton, King, Williams, Daley, Hourihane, Soukouna, Atkinson, Feeney, Lecointe. Subs - Fletcher, Berry, Hitchcock (not used – Cole, Griffiths). Attendance - 5,018.
Will Atkinson has been a 'major plus' for Argyle, according to Peter Reid. He said: "I think he's a really good player. I was absolutely delighted to get him. I couldn't believe we got him because I knew there were certainly League One clubs after him. I thought it was a great effort on everyone's part to get him here. He's a really good pro. He keeps on going, and has got a good knowledge of the game. I think he has been a major plus for us, I have got to say that."
Argyle take on Port Vale at Home Park tomorrow desperate to end a run of five league defeats. Peter Reid knows his team need to start picking up points soon, or they will be marooned at the bottom of the table. He said: "It's a cause for concern, and this is a game we need to win tomorrow. The crowd were fantastic last week and they have got to go to the well for us again. We need their support. We are desperate for a result. It's not for the want of trying, but I think some of our defending has been poor. The table never lies, and we are in danger of getting tailed off even though it's early in the season. So we need a result tomorrow, and that's what we will be looking to get. I think from day one the performances have been all right, but just not for 90 minutes. They switch off. Whether that's inexperience or bad defending, whatever the reason we have got to get a 90 minutes together where we are solid. A clean sheet would be nice, and I'm one of those managers who believes you defend as a team and you attack as a team. We aren't scoring enough goals so there is pressure on us not to concede." Reid's attempts to add to his striking options continue to be severely hampered by Argyle's financial position. He said: "My phone is over-used. I'm speaking to managers virtually every hour trying to get strikers, but it's difficult out there." Port Vale are in 12th position in League Two, with eight points from six matches. "I have got match reports on them, and seen a DVD of them in their last game against Wimbledon," said Reid. "They are a strong side physically. They score goals, but they have been conceding them. I did play with Micky at Southampton many, many moons ago, and I know his team will be very difficult opposition. But I don't like talking about the opposition. It's about what we do. We have got to be really positive, both in an attacking sense and also defensively."
Kevin Heaney has stated he will not walk away from the proposed takeover of Argyle, despite administrators turning to other bids. Failure to complete the drawn-out deal fronted by Heaney has seen the club put back up for grabs and James Brent was due in the city today for talks with Peter Ridsdale. The pair are expected to travel to London early next week to meet with key creditor Lombard. The mortgage lender, owed £2.1million by the club, had been offered a higher return as part of the bid tabled by Heaney. But Heaney last night said: "I'll hang on in there. We have to grin and bear it. We're just trying everything we can to get the ball over the line and all I can say is my heart goes out to the supporters. People need to be realistic about where we are. There's nobody out there with millions of pounds to rescue Plymouth Argyle Football Club. The reality of it is we're the only viable deal in town. My heart and soul is going into this. All the stick and nasty remarks people make, especially the press, they haven't got a clue how hard I've tried." Heaney maintains he is backed by wealthy investors and described suggestions of the takeover cash not being ready as 'strictly not true', blaming a high-profile creditor for being 'obstructive' to the deal at the last minute. He said: "The fault is not with BIL and its investors. It's a very complicated deal buying a football club, especially when there's going to be two different owners." Heaney again declined to divulge the identity of his backers, but added: "If you were being backed by a hedge fund you wouldn't be able to say who all of the investors were. I'm just a part of this and out of respect for others I don't want to go into the finances. But the assurances have been given through lawyers, that's been verified. The funding is in place." The Football League get the final say on any takeover and Heaney had claimed he and Ridsdale would turn their backs on the club unless the governing body gave his deal the go-ahead at its board meeting yesterday. Ridsdale refuted that, insisting he would work alongside any bidder until the club's crisis was resolved. A Football League spokesman said: "Based on the information available to it, the board were unable to consider a transfer of the club's share in the Football League to the proposed purchaser at this point in time. Discussions with the administrator and proposed purchaser will continue." The League could not give the green light because a fresh sale and purchase agreement has not yet been signed. Settlement of Argyle's £3million football creditor debt, largely to staff and players, must also be reached. John Bramhall, assistant chief executive of the PFA, discussed that with Ridsdale at Home Park yesterday. He also met with Argyle's players, but said: "We need a purchaser to be in place first before anything can take place with regards to settling the football creditor debt. Then we'll sit down with the potential purchaser and discuss the figures involved and try to reach a satisfactory resolution for the players and the Football League. We're still in discussions with the administrator and the club and obviously the key issue now is trying to find somebody to take over the club as, from the discussions, it would appear that things aren't moving forward like everybody had anticipated." Heaney said he believed the football creditor debt had already been settled. "I was told the PFA have agreed it on behalf of the players," he said. "My understanding is that the PFA and the players are happy that they're being paid in full. As far as I'm concerned, the deal was ok to go over the line with the Football League. The problem is, I'm not being told everything."
Curtis Nelson was born in Staffordshire and even though he used to be in the academy set-up at Stoke City, he has never played against Port Vale before. He will get that chance tomorrow and said: "We didn't play against Port Vale because we were in different leagues. They are the rivals for Stoke, who I support, but the main thing tomorrow is that we need three points on the board. We want to start climbing up the table. We don't deserve to be at the bottom." Argyle also faced Staffordshire opposition last Saturday, when they lost at Burton Albion. Nelson said: "It was one of those games where we did have chances but we didn't put them away. At the same time, we have got to defend properly and start keeping clean sheets, and that's what we are working on." Nelson has recently been switched to a new role at right-back. He said: "It's different to being at centre-back, and you have got to be aware of your position on the pitch. It's one of those things you get used to. I played at right-back when I was a lot younger, but not recently. I'm just picking things up. You have got to listen to what people say." With so many new players arriving at the club over the summer, there is a learning process taking place across the entire team, and Nelson added: "It's important we do it quickly so we can start getting a few wins, but I think we are coming together as a team now." Nelson insisted the players were desperate to reward the support they have received from fans. He said: "The fans have been absolutely brilliant through this dark time at the club. We need them behind us tomorrow and, hopefully, we will get something for them."
Warren Feeney and Conor Hourihane have returned unscathed from international duty this week and both are expected to be recalled to the starting line-up against Port Vale tomorrow. Peter Reid said: "The two lads have come back from international duty and they are fit and raring to go, which is good news."
The following statement was released by The P&A Partnership and Plymouth Argyle Football Company Limited (in administration) today: The joint administrators of Plymouth Argyle Football Company Limited (in administration) are working with all interested parties, including James Brent, that have indicated that they are able to offer a viable solution to the club's financial problems. Brendan Guilfoyle said: "I can assure the club's staff and fans that the Joint Administrators and their advisors are working tirelessly to ensure that there is a successful resolution to the sale of Plymouth Argyle Football Club. In response to recent press reports, I can confirm that the Football League has neither accepted nor rejected a transfer of the club's golden share to any interested party. The Football League are awaiting the outcome of our negotiations before considering any application."
Fresh bids are being tabled for Argyle as the Football League prepares to block a takeover led by Kevin Heaney. Despite funding concerns, Heaney insists the governing body will give his deal the go-ahead when its board meets today. But that is an impossibility, because agreement is yet to be reached on how Argyle's football creditor debt will be repaid. The debt, about £3million, mainly owed to staff and players, must be settled before any deal can be rubber-stamped. Peter Ridsdale was due to meet PFA chiefs today with an offer for players, but administrators are now actively inviting rival bidders back to the negotiating table. Reports suggest James Brent tabled a revised offer last night and Paul Buttivant is expected to re-submit his plans later today. A third party, former Oxford United owner Firoz Kassam, has withdrawn his interest. Kassam began his interest in February, although that did not lead to a firm offer, but he and Ridsdale are understood to have been in contact again earlier this summer. They then met last week in Monaco, where Kassam has a home. A further meeting in London on Tuesday did not go ahead as planned, as rumours of Kassam's involvement began to circulate. He has now withdrawn immediate interest. Ridsdale declined to discuss the talks, but said: "I am still working my backside off to find a solution. This club is in real danger of disappearing. I'm still optimistic that we'll have a football club at the end of it, but I couldn't call who is going to own it at the moment." It is unclear whether Kassam's plans would have involved Ridsdale owning the club in a similar structure to the Bishop International offer. But, under Brent's proposals, the stadium would be sold to Plymouth City Council and the club itself retained by Brent's Akkeron Group. He said: "The players and staff have given this process additional life through their generosity in not taking full September wages. We all hope that time is properly used to find a solution." Brendan Guilfoyle and his firm The P&A Partnership refused to comment.
Onismor Bhasera is continuing to make good progress in his recovery from torn cruciate knee ligaments. Peter Reid said: "He's due to see the specialist at the end of the month, but from what I have seen in training he's looking really good. His running looks strong, he's doing a bit of ball work now and a bit of twisting and turning. With an ACL, that's usually the acid test. I think Paul Atkinson is being careful with him, but it is a bonus when you see him out there."
Warren Feeney came on as a substitute during Northern Ireland's 4-1 defeat to Estonia in Tallinn on Tuesday and Conor Hourihane was an 80th-minute replacement in the Republic of Ireland under-21's 1-0 loss in Turkey.
Peter Reid has admitted there is a mood of anxiety among his squad as the future of the club continues to hang in the balance. The players trained in heavy rain at Harper's Park yesterday morning, with Simon King among their ranks after shaking off a slight ankle injury. Reid said: "We had a good session, to be fair, considering there is an anxiety among the players, which I can understand. I think the supporters and everyone involved in the situation is like that. The way I see it, the players and the staff haven't been kept in touch with the situation. That's why there is an anxiety because there is no knowledge of what's going on. As good as the players and the staff have been, I think it's really difficult times." Despite all the uncertainty, Reid was encouraged by the response from the players in training yesterday. He said: "The conditions were great. There was a bit of zip on the ball. We had a little 11-a-side and ended up with a finishing exercise, and there were a few going in the net, which pleased me." Reid is continuing his attempts to add strikers to his squad but, because of the financial chaos, that is proving to be extremely difficult. Football League clubs can resume loan signings from today, and Reid said: "I'm still actively trying to do something on that." With only a limited number of players to select from, Reid is using them in a variety of positions as he tries to find a winning formula. Durrell Berry is the latest example of that, having started the season at right-back, he moved to a midfield role against Burton. Reid said: "I'm just thinking of different permutations to try to get a result. I'm open-minded about anything. I have put Curtis at right-back and right centre-back, Ladji has gone left-back, left centre-back and in the middle of the park. I thought he did smashing on Saturday, to be fair. Daley has played on the right of midfield and up front, and Walts has been in the middle of the park and at the back."
Simon King is looking forward to returning to one of his former clubs during his loan spell at Argyle. He won promotion to the Football League with Barnet in 2004/05 so will be on familiar territory when Argyle travel to Underhill next Tuesday. King said: "We have got some tasty games this month, especially going back to my old stomping ground, which will be good. It would be nice to get a result there. I'm not sure how they are going to be doing this season, but I know they have got quite a strong team. Izale McLeod has started off very well and is scoring goals, so we will have to keep him under wraps. I'm looking forward to going back there. It's a nice, family club."
Kevin Heaney has denied his Argyle takeover deal is facing collapse. Three companies led by Heaney were yesterday ordered by a court to pay up a £10,000-plus debt to legal firm Foot Anstey, but Heaney last night vowed to appeal, insisting money was not a problem. He stated that only the Football League stand in the way of the Argyle deal, and that its board was expected to give the green light on Thursday. "Everything the administrators have asked of us we have done," he said. "We have to wait for the Football League. All I'm trying to do is save Plymouth Argyle Football Club from liquidation." Heaney said he had no knowledge of the three judgements against companies he runs, all heard at Plymouth County Court yesterday. Among them was Truro City Football Club, which he bought in 2004. Heaney denied the club or its stadium were up for sale, or that players had been unpaid. He lent Truro £1.4million in 2009 to cover even larger losses, a year after his Cornish Homes (UK) Limited was liquidated owing £4.8million. Heaney said: "This country is in a very deep recession at the moment and property development, which I'm involved in, has been particularly hit. I've got about 40 companies and I'm owed money. The trouble I've got at the moment is that because I'm connected to Plymouth Argyle Football Club I'm an easy target. This Plymouth Argyle deal needs to go through as quickly as possible."
Jamie Griffiths has set his sights on more first team football with Argyle after making his debut at the weekend. He said: "I had a back injury at the end of last season, a stress fracture, but I'm all right now. I had a full pre-season and have been playing for the reserves. I feel fine." Griffiths has been at Ipswich since the age of nine, and progressed through their youth system into the professional ranks. He said: "I can play anywhere across the midfield, although I quite like it out wide. I'm a creative kind of player and I like to get on the ball. I was very pleased to get a run-out at Burton. I thought we battled hard, but we conceded a couple of sloppy goals. We had some good chances ourselves, and if we had taken them we would have been back in the game. I will get a full week's training with the lads under my belt and I can't wait until Saturday."
Argyle are four points adrift at the bottom of League Two after the defeat at Burton Albion on Saturday. Peter Reid said: "It was a game I thought we had reasonable chances in. Tom Hitchcock had a great one. He tried a Van Basten volley, where I thought he might have had a touch first, but he's a young boy and he's learning his trade." Burton took the lead moments after Hitchcock's miss. "The goal just before half-time was obviously a big blow for us," Reid added. "From their point of view, it was a really good strike, but from ours, it was too easy. He has got on the end of a flick-on and smashed it in the net. To then concede a goal off a long throw was so disappointing but, to be fair to the players, they kept on going." The continuing uncertainty over Argyle's future is an unwanted distraction for Reid and his players. However, he insisted they had to try to overcome that. Reid said: "We've just got to get out there and play football. I think football should be a release. But we're all human beings, and different people react in different ways. They gave me everything they have got, but I wasn't pleased with some of our body strength in tackles. Mind you, I had four booked today and I didn't see a tackle made. That's another story. There are certain things we're doing right, but there are certain things we aren't doing right. Believe it or not, I'm not the greatest loser in the world and it's happening a lot. It's hard to take. But I think if I can get in a couple of front men with a bit of strength, this team can win football matches."
Simon King has admitted he did not realise the seriousness of the continuing financial crisis at Argyle. After the defeat at Burton Albion on Saturday he said: "A couple of contracted players haven't been paid for months on end, and I didn't realise it was that bad. I do feel for them because it can't be nice being in that situation. Plus all the staff haven't been getting paid." King arrived for training with Argyle for the first time last Thursday, only to discover his team-mates were considering strike action over non-payment of their wages. He said: "They have all made me feel really welcome. I know it's tough times but sometimes that does bring you closer as a unit. I've been impressed with what I have seen so far. Hopefully, we can turn things around and get some results." Gillingham are thought to be paying the wages of King while he is on loan at Argyle. He added: "The lads have been great with me. I couldn't imagine being in their situation, but they are all still training hard and working hard. I know it's difficult times for them but the togetherness is really good." King took positives out of Saturday's match, despite the defeat. He said: "Looking back on it now, with a bit of time to reflect on it, I think we had some good chances. Even at 2-0 down we hit the bar and were a bit unlucky there. If that goes in it's a completely different game. We had a couple of good chances in the first half as well, which you have got to take a bit of spirit from. I think the lads put in a good performance. They look to play football, which is good. We maybe didn't win enough second balls and conceded a couple of sloppy goals but we didn't get much of a break. The referee didn't give us much, which tends to happen when things aren't going right. But it's a long season, as we all know, and things can quickly turn. It only takes a bit of luck or one result and we could get a little run together." Burton opened the scoring in stoppage time at the end of the first half and King added: "We were looking pretty solid before that. Goals do change games and that one just before half-time gave them a massive lift. That's football for you. I think we had more than enough chances to get back in it and maybe have taken a point." King played for 72 minutes before he was replaced by Ben Gibson, having taken a whack on the ankle which has caused him trouble over the past couple of years, but he was not too worried about that. King said: "It's typical. I felt alright with the ankle and got through it, and then I got a knock on it, which caused a few problems. Where I haven't played much football, I think my quality on the ball needs to be better. Overall, I'm generally happy. I'm just annoyed I took a knock on the ankle but I'm sure it's nothing serious. It's just bone bruising and I'm sure that will settle down. Hopefully, I will train this week and be back in the team next Saturday."
Jamie Griffiths is looking forward to a settled week after a hectic start to life with Argyle. "I can't wait until next week," he said, "to get a full week's training under my belt with the lads and then push on." Griffiths found out about Argyle's interest in him only on Wednesday of last week, after a morning training-session with Ipswich. He said: "I came in for lunch and the gaffer pulled me in to his office and said: 'Plymouth want you on loan.' I didn't hesitate. I had a word with Peter Reid and the gaffer and that was it, I wanted to come down and play." Griffiths joins former Ipswich team-mate Conor Hourihane at Home Park and is aware of the financial problems troubling the club. He added: "I spoke to him twice before I came down so I knew it was a good club. The lads have been great. They get on with it. We have just got to turn things round on the pitch. That's all any of the lads can do. They can't let it affect them. We need results, and we have just got to focus on that."
Peter Reid took the decision to rest Romain Larrieu for the defeat at Burton, even though Larrieu told him he was fit to play. Romain had a neck problem following the match at Exeter City but told Reid he had recovered. Despite that, the manager selected Jake Cole yesterday. Reid said: "He was 100% fit, he told me, but he missed training after the Exeter game with a neck injury, so I decided to go with Jake. Romain's a great pro. He's done fantastically well for the football club, but I just decided to change it. Simple as."
The Argyle youth team beat Hereford United 2-0 yesterday, the goals scored by Jared Sims and Ben Clarvis. Argyle: Walton, Elcock, Bradley, Pearce, Purrington, Harper-Penman, Hart, Clarvis, Vassell, Harvey, Sims. Subs - Jewell, Allen, Knight (not used - Trudgian).
Argyle lost 2-1 at Burton Albion, the goal scored by Will Atkinson after 90 minutes. Argyle: Cole, Nelson, Walton, King, Williams, Berry, Soukouna, Fletcher, Atkinson, Daley, Hitchcock. Subs - Gibson, Griffiths, Lecointe (not used – Larrieu, Young). Attendance - 3,042.
Potential bidders for Argyle are queuing up outside the administrators' door, but say they are locked out and facing a wall of silence. Bishop International Limited lost exclusivity in the takeover talks by failing to seal the £6million deal last Friday and that has led Peter Ridsdale to seek other offers, even flying abroad for talks. Kevin Heaney insists a Football League board meeting on Thursday will give the approval needed to complete the purchase but reports suggest his secretive backers, said to be a 'financial institution' that is providing a bridging loan, are still carrying out their due diligence. Administrators the P&A Partnership released a statement yesterday claiming 'legal formalities' were to blame for the hold-up but they did not explain Brendan Guilfoyle's apparent disappearance. Rival bidders are now asking to be allowed back to the negotiating table amid fears for the future of the club. Following a conference call yesterday, the contingency plan committee said: "More time has been bought through the unparalleled and exceptional generosity of the staff. We have run out of words to express our appreciation and gratitude to these brave people. The failure to meet another deadline causes grave concern that the preferred bid may not complete. We wish to state unequivocally: if all stakeholders are willing to play their part in securing the future of the club, then there is a workable alternative, so long as it is pursued soon. We fervently ask the administrator, as the only person who can unlock this logjam, to pick up the phone to James Brent, the secured creditors, and other stakeholders, before it is too late and the club is potentially plunged into the abyss." A consortium headed by Paul Buttivant has tried to contact both Guilfoyle and lawyer David Hinchliffe about their offer, to no avail. "We've offered them an olive branch but there is no way in," a source said. Ridsdale was thought to be heading to New York for talks with an investment group yesterday but he and Hinchliffe instead flew, separately, to Southern France to meet a mystery investor. They were unavailable for comment last night.
Romain Larrieu has called on his Argyle team-mates to put off the pitch problems behind them when they play Burton Albion today, but admitted their preparation for the game had been far from perfect. He said: "When we got together we asked the boys what they wanted to do. Some people were still undecided, they wanted to see the money in their account, and that's completely normal, especially as some of them have not been in this position before. The majority of the squad has just turned up, and I believe they signed because they were told they were going to get paid. In the end, we decided to travel as long as we got a guarantee the money had been transferred, and we will take it from there. Nothing that has happened in the last few days will matter come three o'clock. The boys need to erase that from their heads. We are professional footballers. I know these boys will get on with their jobs. It won't be an excuse we use. But, in an ideal world, you would want to prepare for a game in a better way than this." Larrieu added his voice to the dissent coming from inside Home Park over the running of the club by the administrators. He said: "We felt they were sitting on money from different sources, which are the games we have played in August. We didn't feel it was right they didn't even think we might need some money, and the staff might need some money. So we have been in touch with the administrators and we have got some money coming in." Larrieu insisted the players would have carried out their threat to go on strike had that not happened. He added: "People have been really having a hard time for a few months. If you had a bit of care for them you wouldn't have waited for us to decide to go on strike before using this money that was sitting in a bank. I just can't believe it. I really can't."
Simon King and Jamie Griffiths have been included in the Argyle squad for the game at Burton Albion today. King took part in an abbreviated training session at Marjon on Thursday but Griffiths did not meet his new team-mates for the first time until yesterday, a couple of hours before boarding the team coach. Peter Reid admitted planning for the game had been impossible because of the strike threat. He said: "I didn't get time to do my teamplay, but we are all on the bus and looking forward to the game. I'm going to put out the strongest side I can." The strike threat was lifted after Argyle's players and staff received 40 per cent of their wages for September from the club's administrators, and Reid was among those paid. "I might have a glass of red wine tonight," he said. Reid was asked how hard it would be to motivate the players for the game after the events of the last couple of days. He replied: "I think that's a question I can answer at about a quarter-to-five today. But they are a great bunch of lads. From a football point of view, because that's what I want to talk about, the results haven't gone for us, but some of the performances have been good. And it's my fault because I can't get them a front man in. If I could have got another front man in I think we would have won some of these games. You can't guarantee anything in football, but it wouldn't surprise me if they get a result at Burton. I think I said Buxton on Thursday. That's how bad I was. I bet Buxton were made up about that! I think we are all feeling the pressure." Griffiths arrived at Home Park when the Argyle players were discussing whether to carry out their strike threat. Reid said: "Jamie walked in on the meeting. He must have thought, 'Why have I come here?' He and Simon King are in the squad. I blame both of them, it was alright until they got here!" On a more serious note, Reid admitted Argyle's position at the bottom of the table was a worry for him, even at this early stage of the season. He said: "I had a belief we were going to fight for promotion, and that's still not out of the question, but we have got to stay in this league now. If I can get a couple of strikers to give us a bit of strength up at the top end, I honestly believe in this bunch of players. We went to Exeter and I thought we played really well against a team from a higher level. We got a great goal and we had a couple of other chances, but I have got to get that cutting edge for these players." When it was put to Reid that, realistically, it was going to be difficult to bring in any strikers in the current climate at Argyle, he replied: "When they are not getting paid it is difficult, I will give you that one." However, he believes there will be a resolution to Argyle's financial crisis, one way or another, by the middle of September. He said: "I have no experience of this in my football career. This is so new to me it's untrue. You don't know from one minute until the next what's going to happen. But time is running out and I think within the next week or two we will have an answer. I honestly believe that."
Conor Hourihane was an unused substitute for the Republic of Ireland under-21s as they beat Hungary 2-1 in Sligo on Thursday night.
Carl Fletcher has ripped into Argyle's administrators after a strike threat by the players was narrowly averted. He said: "The worrying thing, from our point of view, is why did it have to take us to come out and say what we said for them to suddenly stump up some money? Surely the players and the staff here should be one of their priorities. It shouldn't take a threat of not playing for them to do that. Obviously, it's only 40 per cent, not 100 per cent, but something is better than nothing. The mood among the players is that we feel they are taking advantage of our professionalism and our desire to keep the club going. We understand that during the off-season there was no revenue coming into the club. But we had three home pre-season friendlies, another four games at home since then, and season tickets have been sold. We have been asking where is that money going, surely it should be going to the people that need it. The people working here day in, day out, the players and the staff." The squad held a meeting at Home Park yesterday morning where they talked about whether to play the game against Burton. Fletcher said: "We were going to do whatever the majority wanted. It wasn't going to be one or two people not playing. It was either all in or all out. We are still not happy with the way it is. We are expecting 100 per cent wages this month. Like I said before, they are just taking advantage of our professionalism and our love for playing football." The squad were applauded onto the team coach by a large group of fans who had gathered to show their support for the players, whatever their decision. Fletcher has been impressed, and thankful, for the way fans have stuck by the players during all the problems over recent months. He said: "They have been fantastic. They fully understand what the club and the players are going through. It's great to have their support, especially in this day and age. It's very rare that you see fans getting behind their team like they do. You see it week in, week out, where teams lose and fans boo them. It seems a common thing these days. You have only got to see how far our fans have to travel every other week. Every journey for us is over four hours. I can't praise them enough, and as players we just want to go out there and do what's right for us and for them. We just want the club to get back on track and give them something to smile about because it has been a long, dark road."
PFA chairman Gordon Taylor has urged Argyle's unpaid players not to walk out on strike but shares their disgust at a 'ridiculous' administration process which has seen missed deadlines and false promises leave the club in chaos. He is calling for Football League intervention in a bid to rescue the club from extinction. Taylor said: "The players need to be given some real deadlines. Is there going to be somebody coming forward to save the club or is there going to be someone coming along to fold it? It's a real worry for us at the moment. Our advice to them is to stay together and keep playing in the hope we can resolve the matter in the very imminent future. It won't serve any purpose for the lads to show their disenchantment by not playing. Whilst I can understand how disenchanted they're feeling, they still have a very strong loyalty to the club and I would like the players to hold together." The PFA has been among those trying to contact administrator Brendan Guilfoyle, whose automated email response says he is on his 'annual holiday', until Monday. Colleagues yesterday insisted he remained at the helm, and was simply too busy to use his phone or email. Taylor said: "It needs a team in really from the Football League or the PFA because the way it's been handled is not good enough. At the end of the day you can't run a club on fresh air, and the problems with the administrators don't help. I just feel very disappointed with what's happened during the administration and I find it incredible that the man who is meant to be running it has apparently gone on holiday." Peter Ridsdale travelled to the PFA headquarters in Manchester on Wednesday for talks over wage debts to staff and players, now totalling more than £3million. That bill must be settled in full as part of a takeover, with repayments set to be offered over a period of around three years. But neither office workers nor players have yet been consulted. "We were hoping there would be an acceptable offer but it doesn't seem to have materialised," Taylor added. "I've not heard anything from Peter since to say there has been an offer from a preferred bidder."
The P&A Partnership released this statement today: The joint administrators of Plymouth Argyle Football Company Limited (in administration) have confirmed that all staff (both players and other employees) have today been paid 40 per cent of their September wages on the basis of an agreement that they will continue to work up to and including 15 September 2011. The money has been paid direct into their bank accounts today. The P&A Partnership would like to stress that legal formalities are taking longer than anticipated to complete. However, Bishop International Ltd and Plymouth (125) Limited have both stated that they remain confident that they will be able to conclude the transaction shortly.
Peter Reid has confirmed that Argyle's staff have received 40% of their monthly wage bringing an end, for now, to potential strike action. Reid, who has praised his players' attitude, will therefore be able to choose from a full squad tomorrow. "They have trained well. They are all on the bus and all looking forward to the game," he said. "They are not happy but they have agreed a deferral with the administrator so I am going to put the strongest side I can out. They have been paid a certain amount. I think they are getting 40% of the wages into the bank today which is not an ideal situation." Carl Fletcher added: "It is a dark cloud hanging over the club. It is a release to come and train. On a Saturday it is 90 minutes to take our mind off all the worry of our home lives. The last thing we wanted to do was not play on Saturday. We had to make a stand and it sums it up that we made a stand and they did something about it. Why didn't they just do that in the first place?"
Carl Fletcher has given an insight into the financial difficulties faced by the Argyle squad. Fletcher revealed that some players were on the brink of being forced to sell their houses, and others were struggling to afford to pay for fuel so they could drive to training. His frustration spilled out as Fletcher spoke about the chaos at Argyle, with administrator Brendan Guilfoyle firmly in the firing line. He said: "We put our faith in the people that have been employed to take charge of this club, to get it through the dark times, and get a takeover done. But really, now, it just seems they are taking the piss out of us. Some of us have worked here for the last nine months, all the staff, because we care about the club and we want to see it come through the other side. But some of the lads border line can't even get into training because they can't afford the petrol to come in. It's getting that desperate, and there doesn't seem to be any urgency about it." That is why the Argyle squad are considering strike action, and not playing in the game at Burton Albion tomorrow. Fletcher said: "The only leg we have got to stand on really, to make a statement, is probably by not playing on Saturday. But we haven't made any decisions on that yet. We are still discussing it between everyone, seeing where we stand legally and where our heads are at." Fletcher admitted strike action had been considered in the past and added: "This isn't something we have thought up overnight. There have been a lot of times where maybe we have thought about doing it, but we have stuck together and done what we needed to do. We have gone out every game and whether we have played good or bad everyone has put in every day, all the staff and the players. We come into training every day and put in 100 per cent, and it just feels like there is nothing coming back. Sometimes you have just got to put your foot down." Fletcher admitted the current crisis at Home Park was the lowest point in his long career. "Without a doubt," he said. "I was in the youth team when Bournemouth were going through administration. So I was obviously very young and it didn't affect me too much there. But this is something else. After last season we thought we would go off for a couple of months, there were people in to sort it out, and we would come back and start afresh. But we have come back and, if anything, it has got worse. It's tough, really tough. We have got bills to pay and houses to live in. We need a roof over our head. Some of us have got kids. It's getting to that point, literally, where people are going to have to sell their houses because they can't afford to live there. It can't get any worse." Asked who he blamed for the mess at Argyle, Fletcher diplomatically replied: "No comment." But he later added: "Manners don't cost anything, and a little bit of respect doesn't cost anything. It would just be nice to be told the truth once in a while. I wouldn't treat my worst enemy as bad as the way people have been treated here."
Romain Larrieu has slammed the club's administrators for their treatment of Argyle's unpaid players and staff. He said: "There was an announcement made last Friday, and if you see what has happened since you feel like people are lying to your face. That's just not right. How can you expect people to give you 100 per cent all the time? We are discussing the fact we might not be on the pitch on Saturday. We haven't made any decision, one way or another, but it's something we are thinking about. That's where we are now." Larrieu, who is Argyle's PFA representative, added: "The PFA are looking into the problem. They are trying to find out as much information as they can, but I don't think they like the way it the club has been run either. We want to keep the club going for the fans, and for the people in the office who are struggling as well. We need the club to carry on, for the community, for the city, but there is only so much an individual can take, and I think we are reaching that point. It's about time whoever is in charge does something about it." Argyle's squad did train for an hour yesterday, following a team meeting, but it was not the usual team-play session that Peter Reid would have worked on in normal circumstances. Larrieu said: "People could have done what they wanted. I don't think the gaffer would have stood in anyone's way because he understands the highs and lows. That's what I'm most angry with, to get told things and people start to see the future in a different way, and then two days later it's exactly the opposite that has happened."
The shambolic takeover of Argyle appeared on the verge of collapse last night, as broken promises drove players to threaten strike action. Peter Ridsdale was boarding a flight out of the country this morning as sources say patience with Kevin Heaney is faltering. Ridsdale is thought to be heading to a meeting with American investors following talks with three other businessmen, including James Brent, in London yesterday. Heaney last night insisted the funding was in place, and blamed the Football League for delays. He also said that a Football League board meeting on Thursday was expected to provide the go-ahead, allowing the cash to be released. Heaney said: "Everything is in place. Everything has been agreed with the administrators. Blame the Football League, without them sitting on approving it everything would have gone through. I'm telling the truth because clarity is only fair on the supporters, and no one feels for them more than I do. They have been treated terribly. The bottom line is it's been a painful experience for everyone involved but the best thing for everyone is for everyone to get behind the club and let us complete next week." Reports suggest that Ridsdale spoke to Brent, along with another British businessman and a third from outside the UK, in the capital yesterday. Brent declined to comment on the meeting, but said: "If the administrator wants to engage with us to try and implement a solution, and is willing to give us time, we will endeavour to see there is a workable solution. However, months have now passed which is not particularly helpful." Ridsdale remained tight-lipped about yesterday's events, but backed the players in their actions. "I totally understand the players' frustrations and I can assure everybody I am working my damndest to get a deal done," he said.
Peter Reid has come out fighting on behalf of his players as they threaten to take strike action. He said: "I think it's well documented the problems the club have been through, and it has come to a head now. The players and staff haven't been paid for August when I think it's fair to say we were told we would be paid. I tried to get the administrator for a couple of days, and spoke to him Thursday morning. I asked him about the situation and put a question to him: 'What has happened to the money from the season- tickets and gate receipts, which I thought would be in their hands?' His reply was: 'I will get back to you, I'm checking on that', which I find incredible, considering they are running the football club. The players have been magnificent with what they've had to go through, but we're talking about their livelihoods. Sometimes, as much as we love football and it's important to win matches, that comes second best. I feel for the players and I feel for the staff. The players aren't in the right frame of mind, let me tell you, to train, never mind play a game. It's a situation that, as a manager and as a person, I find incredible. We're talking about things that I feel should have been dealt with by the people in charge of this football club. There was a statement last Friday which, if I'm not mistaken, implied the money was there and available, and I'm sure legal parties were involved in those discussions. If that's the case, why hasn't the club been bought and, most importantly for me, why aren't the players and staff being paid?" Reid is faced with the possibility of having to fulfil the fixture at Burton by using the club's apprentices. He said: "Whatever happens, I will put a team out. I think that's important to say, but I wouldn't hold anything against these players if they decided they weren't in the right state of mind to play." Reid admitted he feared the proposed buy-out would not take place. "I have my concerns, without a doubt," he added. "We, as a group, have got on with the football side of it, and I've never really commented on the takeover, the administrator or any financial aspects of it, because I didn't think it was my remit. But I do feel for everyone at the football club. I should be talking about football, we should have been doing team-play in training, but these players are mentally shot. I feel for every single one of them, and the situation just can't go on. It's as simple as that. The administrators were appointed by the courts to run the club. I don't think I have seen anybody since the Millwall game. If that's running the club, I wouldn't mind that job, to be perfectly honest. I've got a feeling they might be getting paid. This isn't how to run a football club, and this isn't how to treat people. These players, and myself as the manager, have not been kept informed by the administrator."
Peter Reid has welcomed versatile Gillingham defender Simon King to his squad. He said: "I'm very pleased to confirm Simon will be joining us for the next month. I know the lad and have spoken to him, he's got great character and he will help bring experience and stability to our defence. I know he hasn't played much over the past two years because of an ankle injury, but I'm told he's fit now and will definitely be a good signing for us. He's been a terrific player for Gillingham and I know he's desperate to get some games under his belt, so this move will serve his needs as well, hopefully, as ours. Obviously we need strikers but a sound defence is vital too. When you're keeping clean sheets you've got a chance of winning games and that's what I hope Simon can help us do. We've done all right with a young defence, but having someone with Simon's experience to help us can only be of benefit."
Peter Reid wants to see Luke Daley take confidence from scoring his first goal for Argyle. He said: "He's a good player, but confidence is a big thing in football. With the results going against us in certain games, where I didn't think we deserved it, sometimes the players get a little bit inhibited. It was a great goal from Luke on Tuesday but, overall, I thought he played particularly well. I thought the passing that was involved before the goal was really good, and it was a fantastic strike." Simon Walton was moved to centre-back against Exeter as part of a defensive reshuffle and his display was another positive for Reid. He said: "I thought we looked a lot more solid and disciplined on Tuesday. I was disappointed with the goal we conceded at the weekend, and we did a little bit of work in training on the pitch on Monday. Sometimes when you are getting beaten you change your system, sometimes you change your bodies, and that's what I did." There was one blow for Reid, however, with Conor Hourihane receiving a late call-up to the Republic of Ireland under-21 squad. Reid said: "You don't like players missing internationals, well, you do really, but I have got to say that! It's a blow because he has done well. He works the ball in the middle of the park ever so well, so it's a miss for us. But whoever comes in has got to do a job for us." Reflecting on the game against Exeter, Reid thought Argyle had been the better side overall before the penalty shoot-out. He said: "I was really pleased with the way the players went about the job. We played some good football and got a great goal, but it wasn't our day. There was plenty of energy in the side. When we didn't have the ball we shut them down well, and when we got it we tried to pass it. We didn't take the penalties well, but all in all I thought we were the better side and were a little bit unfortunate. We have got to take that performance into the game on Saturday, and I'm sure we will do. We are out of a cup competition, so that's a disappointment. But I think the players were quite upbeat after the game and I was, because I was pleased with them. We have got to keep working hard and, hopefully, we will get a break somewhere and get a win."
Carl Fletcher has said players and staff are at breaking point as they struggle on without payment. Employees expected to get their wages by the end of the month after a multi-million-pound rescue was announced, but are still waiting. Fletcher said: "Everyone is at breaking point. People are giving 100 per cent every day and not getting anything back. It is disappointing how staff have been treated." But, amid rumours players were on the verge of striking, he added that they appreciated the backing of fans who continue to support them. "We, like them, just want to see the club on the up, back up to where it should be - and sooner rather than later," he added. Argyle Fans' Trust vice-chairman Lee Jameson said it was time for the figures behind the proposed takeover to 'come clean' to staff, players, and supporters about the true status of the deal. In a statement the supporters' group said: "We have learned that despite firm assurances, the players and staff at Argyle have today once again not received payment of their wages. This is despite the fact that the club has received income from four home matches in August. The shifting of deadlines, hollow statements and false promises has to end. The line in the sand is drawn. Plymouth Argyle supporters demand and deserve answers." Highlighting the plight of the workers, Jameson added: "They must be struggling to put a meal on the table and pay their mortgages now, despite being told once again they would be getting their wages by the end of the month. I said after Friday's announcement it wasn't time to open the Champagne bottles yet and unfortunately I've been proved absolutely right. The staff, players, fans and the wider community are being treated like morons." Neither Peter Ridsdale nor Brendan Guilfoyle were available for comment yesterday.
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