A Round-up of Argyle News
Argyle News Sites:
The Daily Diary is a compilation of Argyle news, with help from these and other Argyle-related sites.
On This Day:
For the three most recent days, facts from Argyle's history.
Tuesday 21st May 2013
Ben Purrington, who has just finished the first year of his two-year scholarship with Argyle, signed his first professional contract yesterday, and will now report back with the rest of the first-team squad at the beginning of pre-season. Purrington came to the attention of John Sheridan very early in his tenure and, following a friendly at Saltash United in January, Sheridan said: “I really liked the way Ben played. I said to the kid: ‘Your age doesn’t bother me, if you keep playing like that, you’ll be putting things in my mind that you’re good enough and you could to be involved’, even if he is 16.”
On This Day:
1963: On their Polish tour - BWKS Lechia 0 Argyle 3 (Carter, McAnearney, O'Neill).
1993: Curtis Nelson was born in Newcastle-under-Lyme, so 20 today.
On This Day:
1888: Tough tackling fullback Moses Russell was born in Tredegar. Although he didn't look like a footballer - he was bald and smoked a pipe - Russell was one of Argyle's greatest between the two World Wars. He played exactly 400 games, scoring 6 goals, and also won 20 caps for Wales whilst with the club, a record that stood for 78 years.
1992: Warren Joyce signed from Preston.
On This Day:
1996: Steve Cherry signed a permanent contract to allow him to play just one game, a rather important match at Wembley. His second spell with Argyle had been a 3 month loan arrangement, ironically from Watford, which ended just before the play-off final. He moved on to Rotherham that summer.
Peter Leven, a midfielder who was released by Oxford United two weeks ago, has been linked with Argyle in newspaper reports. He said: "It's the first I've heard of any connection between me and Plymouth, to be honest. I'd heard from my agent there was a club interested but Argyle wasn't the name mentioned. But I'm certainly also aware of Plymouth's potential and that they are sleeping giants in this division, so I would, of course, be interested."
James Brent has responded to an additional seating plan proposed by the Argyle Fans' Trust for the new grandstand at Home Park. The Fans' Trust Working Group had suggested changes to Brent's planned new £10m grandstand, with a view to increasing the capacity closer to 20,000 rather than the 18,000 the club are proposing. Brent said estimated costings taken by his Akkeron Group showed increasing the extra seating in the grandstand, worked out to be far dearer than the Fans' Trust's figures. Akkeron's professionals, he said, claimed the incremental costs caused by the changes would be '£2.62million or £1,200 per additional seat' rather than the '£364 per seat' suggested by the working group. Brent said: "The challenges we face today are that we have a dilapidated grandstand, we are losing money and, finished fourth from the bottom of the Football League. We hope that John Sheridan's appointment as manager and the team he is building will address the last point. But on its own, this is not sustainable. The new grandstand needs to help address these challenges in a sustainable manner and in our view, it will, providing high-quality hospitality for our fans and additional revenue to take us back up the leagues. I thank the AFT Working Group again for their proposal. As a group of volunteers who, to my knowledge, have no experience of building similar structures, they have worked hard to find a way of adding more seats at a relatively low cost. However, rightly, in my view sporting stadia are subject to detailed regulations to ensure both the safety of our fans and their comfort. To meet these requirements, the space required for and the cost of the additional seats is materially greater than the AFT Working Group have assumed. Based on current averages, 60 per cent of Home Park's proposed capacity each match is empty and 40 per cent occupied. We really do not need additional seats now, or in the short term. We need to improve our performances and attract more supporters to attend matches in better-quality facilities. We need to generate additional income to do this. We are all hoping that, in the medium-term, we will compete again at the top of the Championship and that the most popular games when we are winning will be a sell-out, having Home Park full again at the top of the Championship is a quality problem. We can increase the capacity to more than 20,000 simply, quickly and economically. Building seats that we can fill regularly makes good economic sense for the club, building seats that remain empty makes no sense at all. The proposed £10m new grandstand does show ambition for our club, but deliverable ambition."
Warren Feeney insisted he is lucky to be given the chance to win another contract at Argyle. Feeney suffered a broken ankle in January and is now working towards proving he has recovered sufficiently from his injury, in order to try and win a new deal during pre-season. He said: "Obviously, I feel frustrated at not being able to go on holiday with my family but at the same time I will make this sacrifice in order to win another contract with Argyle. The gaffer has been good enough to throw me this lifeline, if you like, and I do not intend to let the chance go by me. I feel incredibly lucky to have been given the opportunity, a lot of clubs and managers would not have been so generous. So, I've got about six or seven weeks until the lads return for pre-season and I'm determined to be there, too. I have to be very careful, though, as if I rush myself back too quickly, then I could undo all the good work of allowing the break to heal naturally. But, in my favour, is the fact that I'm probably as fit as I ever was, certainly in the weeks before we returned to pre-season, and I'm confident my ankle will be, too. He wants me to be an 'asset' to the squad and I'm fine with that. He knows his own mind and I'll go along with whatever decision he makes. The ironic thing of it all is that before I got injured back in January, I had the best training session of the season under the gaffer and sensed an upturn in fortunes for us. So, the redeeming feature for me after the past few months just sat around because of the ankle, is that it'll be worth it."
Paul Wotton will continue to have an important part to play in the first team squad at Argyle next season, John Sheridan believes. He said: "I'm pleased about Wottsy. At his age, he realises what the situation is. I have made it clear to him what my thoughts are on how I'm going to use him. I thought he did well when he played in the team last season and was a big plus for us in winning games and staying up. First and foremost, I think it's important he concentrates on being a player but, at the same time, he can work on his coaching. He's well respected around the club and the young players will look up to him for who he is. To play the amount of first team football he has done for one club is a great achievement and it's something you don't see very often these days. He will continue to be an important player in and around the team."
John Sheridan is in the process of trying to arrange six or seven pre-season friendlies for Argyle. He hopes two of them will be 'attractive games' at Home Park, with one possibly being played on July 27th. Warren Feeney will be on trial with Argyle during pre-season, with a view to earning a new contract. Sheridan said: "Warren is working hard to get fit and be ready for pre-season training. If he can prove to me he will be asset there might be something there for him."
John Sheridan expects Luke McCormick to be pushing for a first-team place at Home Park next season, and also hopes Jake Cole will agree to extend his stay with Argyle so that there will be strong competition for the position. He said: "I have signed Luke for football reasons. What happened was a terrible tragedy, but I don't want to go into that. I'm just concentrating on Luke coming in and trying to get in the first team. I know what he's capable of and we have given him an opportunity to come in and push for a place in the first team. It is at a club he knows well and where people know him. If Jake signs his new contract, which hopefully he will do, then we will have two very good goalkeepers fighting for a first-team place next season." Cole was among seven out-of-contract players who were offered new deals by the club and so far two of them, Guy Branston and Paul Wotton, have put pen to paper. The others are Cole, Onismor Bhasera, Andres Gurrieri, Conor Hourihane and Isaac Vassell. Sheridan added: "I hope all the lads we have offered new contracts to will stay on with us. If they decide not to, we will have to look elsewhere. We have made them good offers, and they are at a very good football club where I think they can improve as players."
Luke McCormick has returned to Argyle, signing a one-year contract. McCormick made his debut in May 2001 and went on to make 157 appearances for the club. However, his contract was cancelled in July 2008 after he caused a car crash in which two children were killed. He pleaded guilty to charges of causing death by dangerous driving and driving with excess alcohol and was sentenced to seven years and four months in prison. He was released last July and had a spell playing for Truro City before signing for Oxford United in January. McCormick has told Argyle that, as part of his agreement with the club, he will donate a significant sum of money and give his time to support a local children's charity. James Brent said: "Although Luke made a dreadful mistake with unthinkable consequences, he has served his time and is totally remorseful. While I respect others who have alternative views, from a moral standpoint, the board and I think Luke is entitled to rehabilitation. John Sheridan wanted to sign him and the club is totally supportive of that."
Paul Wotton has signed a new one-year contract with Argyle and, as part of the deal, he will also work in the club's youth academy set-up, as senior professional development coach. He described his combined role as a player and coach as 'a dream job', and said: ”I’m thrilled. I’m really enjoying my football, I’m still enjoying my training and I’m really happy. The important thing is that the body feels really, really good. I'm like every other player. I want to play in the first team on a Saturday, and I will be doing everything I can to get in the team. At the same time, I have got a role in the academy, which I'm looking forward to. I have been doing some work in the academy anyway, and I'm like 90 per cent of all footballers, I want to go into coaching when I finish playing, so it's a great chance for me to learn about the day-to-day running of football. People will find it hard to believe, but there is so much I don't know about that. It's quite easy being a player, you just train and go home. I would like to think that, after 600 games, I have something to pass on to the next generation of Argyle players. To sum it all up, it's a dream job. The coaching will fit in around the playing, not the other way around, although I'm excited by both." Wotton is the second out-of-contract player to accept the offer of new terms from the club, following Guy Branston. He added: "Pre-season will be here before we know it. It will be my 20th. I look forward to it, to some new faces coming in, the new kit, stupid little things. I don't want to say that I can't wait because I'm enjoying the rest, but I'm optimistic about the new season, that's for sure."
James Brent has admitted he found his first full season as owner and chairman of Argyle a very challenging one. He said: It has been very tough, and very easy to make mistakes. I'm a great believer that if you don't make mistakes you are not doing enough and not trying enough. The skill in life is not to try to avoid making any mistakes, it's trying to make sure you get more things right than you get wrong, and when you make mistakes you admit to them and you correct them." Carl Fletcher led Argyle to safety in 2011/12, after replacing Peter Reid and then signed a one-year rolling contract as manager, but was dismissed by Brent on New Year's Day. Brent said: "I have absolutely no regrets at all at giving Fletch a chance. I think it would have been quite wrong not to, on a number of counts, given that he got us to stay up. It was a very challenging position that Fletch inherited and he kept us up. So not to give him a chance would have been quite wrong in my view. I think not to change Fletch at the time that we did would have been dangerous, and there is a question as to whether we should have changed manager earlier, which is impossible to prove or disprove. I assumed that if you had a budget at a certain level, relative to our peer groups, it would drive performance, not necessarily to the level of the budget but it would drive it to that area. We had by League Two standards quite a large budget and we were at the bottom of the table, which was a surprise to me." Brent thought there were positives to come out of this season, most notably the support of the fans. He said: "After five years of being 21st or worse, the support of the Green Army has been quite extraordinary. There are a lot of things I have learned, and I think there are a lot of things to really excite. We have got the catchment area and we have the loyalty of the Green Army, which are things that other clubs don't have. I think we do have a good manager in place and we have a very exciting new grandstand which will not just provide better facilities for our fans but will generate, we estimate, between £1million and £2m of additional income per year, depending on which league we are in. That's net income, and it will differentiate us from other clubs. With the size of the Green Army and their support, combined with a better stadium, we should be able to move forward with a talented manager in charge."
Kevin Nancekivell hopes his 18-months on the backroom staff at Argyle will not be the last time he coaches at first team level within the Football League. Nancekivell has been offered a role within Argyle's youth set-up and has already had talks about it with Kevin Hodges, but will take time to consider his next move. A UEFA 'A' licence qualified coach, Nancekivell learned of his fate from Sheridan last Wednesday. He said: "I was naturally disappointed but it wasn't totally unexpected. Whenever you put your head above the parapet and work with the first team you are always going to be there to be shot at, as such, and run the risk of losing your job. When that happens, you have got to deal with it and move on. I loved every single minute of being involved with the first team at Argyle. It was a very tough 18 months, what with coming out of administration and being adrift at the bottom of the table, but it was a great experience and, hopefully, that time will come again for me. The club have offered me a great role in the academy which I have been in talks with Kevin about. But, like any coach, I have got ambitions to work at as high a level as possible. I'm going to have some time off and think about things." To broaden his football education, Nancekivell is keen to take up an opportunity which has come his way. Through a contact he met at an academy manager's course, he has been invited to spend a couple of weeks with German club Hoffenheim to see how their coaching set-up operates. Nancekivell holds no hard feelings against Sheridan and believes he can lead Argyle to success. He said: "John did a terrific job when he came in. It took a few games for the players to get used to him and what he wanted from them. Once they got in a rhythm, though, you could see there was a big difference. We started winning games, confidence began to build and we looked like a team who could challenge at the other end of the table. I think it has all settled down now after three years of fighting against relegation and having had money problems. I can see us pushing on as a club. John has signed a long-term contract, which is great news, and hopefully we can start looking up, rather than over our shoulders all the time. It's never that easy, though, and there will need to be a little bit of patience to start with. There are a lot of good people at the club and through everything that has happened it has brought us closer together. They deserve a bit of success and, hopefully, they will get it."
James Brent has given his support to the shake-up carried out at Argyle by John Sheridan. He said: "John was very clear that he wouldn't discuss his own position until he got us safe, which we respected. As soon as we were safe, we were keen for him to crack on, which he has done with great gusto. Clearly, some of the decisions that he has taken have caused personal pain to some folk. Parting company with Ro was particularly painful but what we are keen to do is ensure John is armed with as much as we can give him so we can have success going forward. As I have seen, probably the only more stressful job than being a football club chairman is being a football club manager. What is only fair to do with someone taking that level of responsibility is to meet as many of their requests as we can in terms of personnel, whether they are players or management. What we have tried to do to give John as much support as we are able, and he has got a very clear ambition to be playing within the league in a rather different position than we have suffered this year." It did not take long for Argyle and Sheridan to agree to the terms of his contract. Brent said: "His focus has been very much on what he needs to do to make Plymouth Argyle a successful, winning club again. He has not been selfish about his own position. And we want a successful manager, rather than a cheap one, so there was a meeting of minds pretty quickly. The length of the contract reflects the fact that we want him to develop the club, hopefully in the long term but certainly in the medium term." Larrieu spent over 12 years at Home Park, both as a player and as Carl Fletcher’s assistant manager. Brent added: "Clearly, my association with Ro has been for only about 10 per cent of the time he spent at Argyle, but during that period his honesty and decency stood out. He's just a really great guy. John sees all of that in Ro. There is a lot of respect for Ro from John but I think he felt he needed to make changes to get things lined with the way he sees the club going forward. A huge vote of thanks goes to Ro for everything he has done, both as a player and latterly as assistant manager."
John Sheridan will stop at nothing to attract the right kind of players to Home Park. Earlier this season he saw first hand the difficulties in luring some players to the Westcountry, but is committed to working with Gary Owers to finding the men he thinks will help him take the club where he wants it to go. “I’m going to work my socks off to get the players I want,” said Sheridan. “If I get rejected by certain players, I’ll just look elsewhere until I get the players that I think are going to benefit us. Everything is in place at this football club and it's about winning football matches now. Hopefully, I will be able to attract the players I want with my know-how." Sheridan relied heavily on loan signings after taking over as manager in January, and added: "You always need that little bit of a helping hand from other clubs, which we have had with the likes of Joe and Jason. You have just got to keep working and make sure you get the right people. Like I say, if you get rejected by one, you carry on and try to fill that gap with someone else." The 2013/14 Football League campaign will start earlier than usual on August 3rd, so Argyle will begin their pre-season preparations on June 26th. It means there will not be much time off for Sheridan, who said: "I will try to have a little holiday somewhere but the season finishes and then you are straight back to work. It's stressful, but I'm very honoured to get the chance to manage this club. I really do believe I can get this club going again. Everything is there, it's just about winning football matches."
Isaac Vassell has not yet played a competitive game under John Sheridan, but that did not stop the manager offering him a new contract. Sheridan believes Vassell may have what it takes but is keen for him to iron out some inconsistencies first. He said: “Obviously he’s got pace and I’ve seen that when he has played. With him, it’s belief in himself, more than anything. He trains with us and I just think he’s a bit insecure when he’s in and around the first-team. I have told him he needs to grow up because I definitely think there is something there and I have taken the opportunity to give him a year. I don't know if he expected me to give him a year. I think he was surprised. It's down to him now. I would just like to get him a bit of belief and if he does it will make him a better player. He has got some attributes which could make him a good player." Vassell's development has been hampered by a lack of reserve matches over recent times and Sheridan is determined to address that issue next season. He said: "The lads who are not in the first team, or are on the bench for the first team, need to be playing football. That's what they will be doing next season. I will make sure of that. It's very important. They need to be playing and staying on top of their game. It does them no good just training. They need game-time. If they are not playing in the first team they need to be playing in the reserves. Training is all well and good but it's about playing football matches."
Guy Branston has signed a new one-year contract with Argyle and said he was delighted to be extending his stay at Home Park. "The gaffer asked me to come in and prove myself, which every footballer has to do, and I think I've done that," he said. "I'm not signing again for a relegation battle. Next season with John Sheridan at the helm, and the players he's going to bring in, it's going to be exciting times. My appetite for the game is strong. This is a huge football club, why wouldn’t I want to be part of it? The gaffer doesn’t need to sell this football club. I wanted to be involved.” Sheridan was fulsome in his praise for Branston, and said: "Guy did well last year, hopefully, he'll kick on and be ready for another tough season. He came in and gave us leadership, he's a beast when he performs. The lads responded in and around him. He’s a good lad, he can get on to people’s cases if they are not doing the right thing and, at the same time, he can put his arm around them. He’s played a big part in us staying in the league. He has got to concentrate and keep that standard.” Argyle also confirmed that first-team coach Gary Owers has agreed new contract as first-team coach.
Argyle have confirmed that John Sheridan has signed a three-year contract to remain as manager. Sheridan is delighted about extending his tenure in Plymouth and is optimistic about the club's future. He said: "I am very, very pleased and very happy to get it all sorted out. Obviously, now the hard work starts. I keep saying it, I'm ready to get this club pushed up the league, and that's what I am going to try and do. It's not going to happen overnight. The club, for the last two, three, four years, have been struggling at the wrong end of the table, and it's important that I try to get the club back to where it was only four or five years ago. With three years, I can settle, and everyone will get used to how I'm working. I am positive I will get them where we want to go." James Brent said: "I am thrilled that John has pledged his future to taking our club forward. The length of the contract emphasises that both he and the club see the relationship as a long-term one, focusing on taking us back up through the divisions. The deal gives both parties important continuity, stability, and the opportunity to make very real progress."
John Sheridan will be spending more and more time in Plymouth as he attempts to mount a promotion push next season. Sheridan has a wife and three children still living in Leeds, but knows that a local base will ensure that he is 100% focused on Argyle. He said: “We know what’s required and my family understand where I am and what I want to do, because that was one of my big concerns, but I’m very happy with the choice that I’ve made. I’ve got three children and they’re all teenagers. Your most important thing is your family. My wife totally understands, they’re going to come down a lot more for weekends and visits but I’m going to be based here a lot more now. I keep telling my wife how beautiful it is here but my concern and my focus is on Plymouth now and my family understand that. There’s no problem, it doesn’t bother me driving from Plymouth to Leeds. I don’t think it’s a distraction whatsoever. But I know that I’ve got to focus and be based here on regular basis and that’s what I’ll be doing. It’s something I had to discuss with them but everyone’s very happy. It’s a great opportunity for me to manage a really big club and I really do believe that we can get out of this league. There’s no way we should be where we are. I can do a lot of talking and say the right things but I’m here now, I’ve signed a contract and a lot of people believe in me at this moment in time but now’s when it really starts for me. I’ve got to prove myself now and I’m really confident I can do that.”
James Brent has ruled out appointing a director of football at Argyle after securing the services of John Sheridan. There had been speculation that Neil Warnock could be set to return to Home Park in such a role, and Brent admitted he had relied heavily on advice from Warnock since rescuing Argyle from administration, but said: "Neil has been incredibly helpful. He has been one of the people I have been able to draw on. I'm sure he wouldn't mind me saying I looked quite heavily to him when we parted company with Carl Fletcher. I didn't want to speak to anyone before we parted company with Carl because it would have been totally disrespectful, but Neil was the first person I called after I had that conversation and was very helpful. Neil is passionate about Argyle, his son is in our academy and he obviously lives just across the border in Cornwall. He's a friend. I exchange texts with him, or speak, once a week but we have 100 per cent confidence in our manager and that is where the leadership of the football team sits. It's with John, and we don't need any mentorship. John is a very smart and experienced person and, like me, loves to listen to people's views and opinions, and Neil has views and opinions." Argyle were poised to appoint a director of football in December when Fletcher was still manager but, at the last moment, John Ward was appointed as boss of Bristol Rovers. Brent said: "I think with Carl, because he was very inexperienced, he needed mentoring. John Sheridan does not need mentoring. He has got all the experience that is necessary. There is no role that I have discussed with Neil." Meanwhile, Brent confirmed Argyle are close to appointing a new chief executive. He said: "We have made pretty good progress on that side. We are hopeful of moving forward fairly quickly. It was appropriate to start the discussions with folk before we had our league status confirmed, but sensibly we needed to postpone any final decision until after it had been confirmed. We have conducted the interviews and had a very good group of candidates. There were some fairly impressive names. We were very clear as to what we were seeking from a chief executive." In addition to Warnock, Brent has also found the support of director Colin Sexstone extremely useful. He added: "Colin is very much involved. I probably had about 10 e-mails from him the other day. I'm a great believer in listening to a number of smart people who have got experience and triangulating views, and trying to get the best position. Colin led the search, first of all, for the director of football and subsequently for the manager. He was a brilliant on that, and has been very helpful on the new grandstand. He spent a lot of time looking at options for Ashton Gate. Colin has also been very helpful on the new chief executive appointment. He has been great. It was never planned he would take an executive role, but he has been a very active non-exec."
Argyle are reported to be in talks to re-sign former goalkeeper Luke McCormick, who was released by Oxford United earlier this week, reports that the club have denied.
John Sheridan admitted he was 'chuffed to bits' after finalising his future as manager of Argyle. The club announced on Tuesday that Sheridan had agreed, in principle, to stay on as boss and that has now been confirmed. Sheridan said: "Everything has been agreed. I'm very happy to get things sorted out and I'm really looking forward to starting anew and getting things going. I'm chuffed to bits, and I'm privileged to have to come to a club which I think can go to high places. Hopefully, we can do that. I think this is a massive club in my eyes. I was a bit of an outsider when I first came in but I know what potential they have got and where they have been only a few years ago. The fanbase is there and a new grandstand is getting built, so everything is in place. Now it's just about getting out of this league as quickly as possible and I'm really looking forward to the start of the season." As yet, the length of Sheridan's contract has not been disclosed.
Gary Owers will continue to be part of John Sheridan's backroom staff at Argyle next season. Sheridan also wants to bring in another coach, but suggested speculation that Tommy Wright and Mark Crossley could be moving to Home Park was wide of the mark. He said: "I think everyone is putting two and two together and getting five. Obviously, they are two lads who I have worked with while I have been managing. Just because they have been released doesn't necessarily mean that I'm going to be bringing them in. Gary Owers is going to stay with me. He has done a good job, but I feel as though I need another member of staff to come in on the football side, so I will make that decision. I also need a new chief scout and a new fitness coach. Hopefully, I will get them all in place sooner rather than later. Whoever comes in, they will know how I work, and we will get together and try to make us a stronger and better outfit." Sheridan was grateful for the support of Romain Larrieu and Kevin Nancekivell after taking over at Argyle. He said: "It's the hardest part of my job, telling people I'm looking elsewhere to do other things. Any manager will tell you that. It's just what I think I need to. I know they have both been here for a very long time, but I'm just doing it for the benefit of the club. I'm going in a different direction and I need people who know how I work and which way I want to go forward. It was a tough decision but I think, hopefully, it will benefit everyone."
John Sheridan has made bolstering the attacking options at Argyle his top priority for the summer. He said: "Even though the team has struggled over the last couple of seasons, I think defensively they have been one of the best in the league. But it's about scoring goals at the end of the day, and I'm a big believer that if you score goals you are going to win football matches. Even this season, when we have scored we have gone on to win most of the games. It always gives that lifeline and it gives you something to hold onto. We need people putting the ball in the back of the net. It's an area where we need to strengthen and that's what I will be trying to do." When asked about his budget for next season, Sheridan said: "I will just carry on and bring in as many players as I can and I'm sure the chairman will tell me when it's up! I think that's the best way to work around it. I have identified players who we can hopefully try to get and I will try to get them as quickly possible. I have got a budget and I think I can work around that budget. Hopefully, the players I get will all play a big part in making us a stronger team which is hopefully going to be pushing for the play-offs and even automatic promotion. I think we have got to look high and make sure we hit the ground running first game of the season." Nick Chadwick and Rene Gilmartin have both been transfer-listed by Sheridan, although they are under contract for next season. He said: "I'm just being honest. That's the way I work. I don't want them sitting around and wasting six months or a year. I know they are both under contract but I'm just being honest. I think it would be in everyone's best interests that they go and play regular football, and I'm giving them that opportunity by just being honest and telling them what I want to do." Sheridan has offered new deals to seven out-of-contract players and will now wait to hear whether they are accepted. He added: "I have made it clear to all of those players that I would like them to come back to me quickly and then I know where I stand. But they have got to go home and think about it, and talk with their families. Hopefully, they will all come back with positive news for me."
James Brent has insisted the proposed new grandstand at Home Park will be a ‘stunning facility’ and generate more than £1 million per year in additional income for Argyle. However, there has been criticism from a minority of supporters, notably the Argyle Fans’ Trust, that the plans are not ‘grand’ enough. Brent has made a robust defence of the criticisms, but admitted the plans for the grandstand had not been properly communicated. He said: “If I could think of any group in our community that I would have less expected to show negativity it would be any of our fans. It is a stunning facility for a club which deserves it and provides much better quality accommodation than we currently offer. It will generate, we estimate, between £1m and £2m per year of net additional income depending on which league we are in, which will enable us to differentiate ourselves from other clubs and move more quickly back up the leagues and then sustain a position. It is an absolute no-brainer for the club. There are a couple of challenges. One is that expectations of some fans are greater than we are able to deliver. I’m sorry to those fans where we are unable to meet their expectations, and I think we have communicated some of it less well than we should have done. Hopefully, once we communicate better, and we have taken into account as many of the fans views as we can do, we will create the sense of excitement that this should have.” An open meeting was staged by the Argyle Supporters’ Board before the game against Exeter City on March 30th and Brent and his advisers were present to talk about the project. Brent reckoned that apart from representatives of the club, the PASB and the Argyle Fans’ Trust there were only 11 people in attendance. He said: “During the administration, where there were matters of concern, several hundred fans would turn up to public meetings, and we had a very small number on this occasion. Once we have shown what we are doing, we have articulated it properly and people understand the benefits to the club, I think the Green Army will be incredibly excited by it and very positive. Do I think some people will remain negative? Yes, I’m sure that they will. Whatever you propose, when we have so many passionate fans with diverse interests I don’t think we are ever going to keep 100 per cent of them happy.” The issue of capacity at Home Park has been particularly contentious. Brent said: “We are, on average, filling about 40 per cent of our current capacity, and we are increasing the current capacity by around about 1,000 seats. So today’s problem is not one of having too little capacity. It is we are not attracting enough fans into the club. If someone asked me whether the issue today is one of capacity, I would say it is not. The challenge we have today is that we have a football club that has just avoided relegation from League Two and is only sustained because we are putting money into it and we need to address that issue. Going forward, based on the numbers we have done, with the income from the new grandstand we think the club can get back to the Championship and sustain itself there. The capacity we are proposing in the new grandstand takes us up to 17,700 seats, and we can add a further 2,500 seats very simply at a low cost – at about £1,000 per seat. Those 20,200 seats will, in our view, give us adequate capacity, given the most recent five years in the Championship. If the club got into the Premier League and marketed itself well, that capacity would be insufficient and we would need to address it. At that point, we get £60m of TV money and it makes sense when you can fill seats to build them. The cost of adding seat capacity is about £1,000 per seat and the income you generate from a seat about £500 per year, so you have got a two-year payback, which is a brilliant investment. What makes absolutely no sense is building seats you can’t fill. And what makes even less sense is taking money out of revenue-generating areas, like the hospitality and grandstand, which you can use to improve your players, and put it into empty seats. Dreaming in football, I totally get. Dreaming is part of what football is about. But there is real danger that if you let the dream drive your action, you will never get to a fraction of your dream. While I remain as a custodian for this club, I’m not going to let dreaming get in the way of doing the right thing by the club.” The Argyle Fans’ Trust set up a working group of volunteers to come up with an alternative proposal based around Brent’s plans for Higher Home Park. They suggested building the ice arena on the adjacent Cottage Field, which is owned by Plymouth City Council, to allow more space around the stadium and not restrict future development. Brent said: “If all we were looking at here was something that was best for Argyle, and there were no limitations, the AFT working group’s alternative proposal has attractions. However, it is not just Argyle that we are trying to get right. We are trying to do what’s right by the city, by the residents and the park users. There are a whole series of stakeholders who we are trying to do the best that we can for. That involves balancing the requirements of each of them. Home Park is the home of Plymouth Argyle and as chairman and owner of Plymouth Argyle I do have a natural bias to doing what’s right for the football club. But, even if I could and it was purely my judgment, I would want to try to balance that against the interest of the wider city. That is what we have tried to do. It’s quite reasonable for people to turn around and say ‘yes, but you are just one man and you don’t even live in Plymouth, and we think this alternative proposal is better for the people of Plymouth’. I totally respect their views, but we do not own Cottage Field. Even if I wanted to build on Cottage Field, I could not do so. And the owner of Cottage Field will not sell it to me for development, so it is a theoretical debate. What we need to do is deal with the art of the possible and not follow wild dreams that are totally undeliverable.” Brent hopes work will start on the new grandstand in September, should all go according to plan, with completion by November 2014. John Sheridan said: “It will make Home Park the best stadium in the division and it’s something to look forward to. It’s really exciting and I wish that we had it now. Hopefully we can get it up quickly and begin to attract even more supporters. The chairman has done really well and there are exciting times ahead.”
Romain Larrieu’s 13-year association with Argyle came to an end yesterday when the club announced that he would be leaving the club, as John Sheridan reconstructs his backroom staff. Kevin Nancekivell is also leaving the first-team set-up but has been offered an alternative role in the club’s Academy. The club confirmed that chief scout Joe Taylor, fitness coach Simon Raynes and psychologist Claire Thackeray will also not be retained.
Romain Larrieu admitted to being saddened at being released by Argyle after 13 years at Home Park. Larrieu stated that he had sensed a change was coming after learning that Chesterfield had parted company with coaches Tommy Wright and Mark Crossley, former assistants to John Sheridan. ‘Le Keeper’ said it was 'it was too soon to plan for the future' but conceded he would miss his day-to-day involvement with Argyle. "Naturally, I am not happy at learning of his plans as I've enjoyed my time at Argyle," he said. "When you've been so long at one club as I have, then it's bound to hurt as I have grown very fond of Plymouth, but it's better to know even if it isn't the news you want to hear. I wouldn't say my release has come as a shock as I already read that the gaffer's former club Chesterfield had parted company with their coaches. It's understandable when a manager takes over the club that he wants to bring in the people he has worked with before. But now for the first time since 2000, I don't have a job and don't know what I'm going to do next. I don't have any regrets about playing for Argyle and living in Plymouth. There have been a lot of ups with promotions to the Championship and downs with relegation and the club having money problems. But I've enjoyed playing and coaching at Argyle and like I said, I can't complain as being sacked is all part of being a footballer."
John Sheridan and James Brent have both paid tribute to Romain Larrieu and Kevin Nancekivell. Sheridan said he could not have asked for more of the pair and was fulsome in his praise. "I'd like to thank Romain and Kevin for the support they have given me since I've been at the club," he said. "But it is my job as a manager to make the decisions that I think are going to push the club forward." Brent was equally generous regarding their contributions, particularly through the bad times. "Ro and Nance have made significant contributions to Argyle, as players and coaches," he said. "I'm particularly grateful to them both for answering the call for help and stepping up to leadership roles when our club was in administration. Being new to football, it gave me great confidence to be surrounded by folk who demonstrably had our club's best interests at the forefront of their minds. Everyone at Argyle wishes them and their families every success in the future."
Joe Bryan was 'relieved' Argyle escaped relegation and admitted he had learned a lot during his six weeks with the club. He said: "Take Saturday, for example, I have never played with 10 men in a match situation. I have been getting brilliant experience week in week out, being involved in a relegation battle and playing every minute of every game. I have really enjoyed it. Plymouth is a huge club. You could see that with the amount of fans who were at Rochdale. I'm certain Plymouth will be challenging at the right end of the table next season. It's a very young squad and there are a lot of good lads. I will definitely stay in touch with them." Bryan hopes his successful loan spell will act as a springboard to regular first team football at Bristol City. He added: "As a Bristol City fan, it's disappointing to see them relegated. You want them to be playing in as high a league as possible. But, from a personal point of view, I might get more games and I will be able to develop as a footballer, like I have done here."
Reuben Reid has returned to Yeovil Town after his loan spell at Home Park, and has immediately swapped a relegation battle for a promotion push. Reid could be added to Yeovil's squad for the first leg of their play-off semi-final against Sheffield United on Friday, as the Glovers have suffered a spate of injuries recently. This almost led to Reid being recalled from his loan spell last week. He said: "My season is not quite finished yet. I have got a semi-final to look forward to and, if we are lucky enough, a Wembley final. I will see how that goes. That would make it a crazy season for me, surviving relegation and, hopefully, trying to get promoted into the Championship with my parent club. There is a great team spirit at Yeovil. There are some honest lads and they all fight for each other. They have done really well, but I have been a Plymouth Argyle player for the last three months and that was my main focus." Reid almost did not get the chance to play in Argyle’s final game against Rochdale, and added: "I got a phone call on the Tuesday telling me to be prepared to be recalled. I wasn't happy about that because I had a job to be done at Argyle. So I think my agent and the manager reasoned it out and allowed me to play the last game. Thankfully enough, we stayed up."
Greens on Screen is run as a service to fellow supporters, in all good faith, without commercial or private gain. I have no wish to abuse copyright regulations and apologise unreservedly if this occurs. If you own any of the material used on this site, and object to its inclusion, please get in touch using the 'Contact Us' button an the top of each page.