A Round-up of Argyle News
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Greens on Screen's Daily Diary is a compilation of Argyle news, with help from these and other Argyle-related sites.
On This Day:
Also included on the three most recent days, facts from Argyle's history.
A bid for Argyle that was fronted by Truro City owner Kevin Heaney collapsed last night. The property developer told the administrators at a meeting in London that he was pulling out of a proposed deal to purchase the club. Heaney’s withdrawal leaves just one firm bidder, widely believed to be James Brent, left in the race to buy Argyle. Players, who have not been paid since January, are expected to be asked to continue to play without getting any April wages, at a meeting this morning. They will be asked to either sign another ‘deed of deferral’ delaying their pay-packets, or walk away from Home Park, an offer that looks set to anger the PFA, which is reluctant to loan any more money. It is understood that Heaney had plans to build a multiplex cinema on Argyle’s car park and relinquish formal control of Truro City. A source revealed that Heaney had held discussions with cinema operator Cineworld. Heaney was thought to have been fronting a bid for Argyle that was part-funded by Japanese businessman Koichiro Abe, an associate of Yasuaki Kagami and George Synan. Heaney has consistently denied any involvement in takeover talks, and was unavailable for comment last night. But it is understood he has cited issues over dual ownership of football clubs as his reason for pulling out. Argyle’s lead administrator, Brendan Guilfoyle, may now turn his attention to property developer Paul Buttivant, who may make a bid, backed financially by a major European firm, which will also be reliant on commercial and retail development on land surrounding Home Park. It is understood that Buttivant has been in contact with Plymouth City Council officials over potential plans for Council-owned land.
Peter Reid is understandably upset to lose Onismor Bhasera for the rest of the season, and beyond, with a cruciate knee ligament injury. He said: "He's had an operation, he's quite happy with it, but it will be a nine-month job. ACL injuries are bad ones, but with the way medical science is these days you usually come back stronger. It's just the amount of time it takes to rehab. So it's a blow for the lad and the most important thing is getting him back fit and healthy. I think that's the third we've had. It's the same operation as Jonno had. And Simon Walton. And it's gone well. It's just one of those things."
Onismor Bhasera was scheduled to have cruciate knee ligament surgery in London today, meaning he will be out of action well into next season. Bhasera suffered the injury in defeat at Hartlepool, but the severity of it was not immediately apparent. Peter Reid said: "It's a real blow for the lad because he had been bright and breezy for us, and it's indicative of the season we have had."
Simon Walton is one of the few players who are contracted to Argyle next season and he knows the outcome of negotiations to save the club will play a large part in shaping his career. He said: "From a personal point of view, I'm buzzing just to be back training and playing again. But the situation at the club is beyond words really. Everyone says it all the time, but unfortunately as players there is nothing we can do about it. What has happened has happened. We all want the club to survive, but from what we are being told you just don't know. We will still put in 110 per cent every week. I think the lads have been brilliant through all of this. The team spirit is greater than anything I have seen before because stuff like this brings you together as a group. It's not nice, and we don't claim to be happy with the situation, but it's one of those things that, unfortunately, comes with the job. The lads have got to do it for themselves, as much as anything else. That's what we are doing, but at the same time we are doing it for each other. I think it has probably been the toughest time in everybody's careers. There are people who have been about a lot and they are saying the same thing. No-one has ever witnessed anything like this before. It's hard. The lads who are in contract for next season still want to have a club to play for. But, unfortunately, there is nothing we can do apart from go out and do our bit for ourselves and the people who have supported us through it. To be out there, trying as hard as they can, is a credit to all of the players who have been involved."
Southampton are reported to be now leading the chase to sign Jack Stephens. They have agreed an initial fee of £125,000 and Stephens has travelled to Southampton for talks, and to see the facilities at their academy. Saints face competition from Newcastle United and Sunderland, who are both poised to make approaches for him. Sunderland have regularly sent scouts to see the Argyle play this season and are also keeping tabs on Curtis Nelson.
A young Argyle reserve side lost 5-1 to Torquay United at Home Park this afternoon, the goal scored by Liam Head after 23 minutes. Argyle: Chenoweth, Hart, Sawyer, Richards, Clifford, Harper-Penman, Walton, Young, Baker, Rickard, Head. Subs - Harvey, Copp (not used - Varazinskis, Berry, Clarvis, LeCointe, Sims). Despite the loss Adam Sadler was pleased with a job done. He said: "The result isn't important at all in terms of my side of things. I'm looking at the development of young players and the result certainly isn't at the front of my mind. It's about giving young lads the experience and giving them exposure to playing at Home Park and against some experienced opposition and that's what Torquay provided us with today. I thought it was a good game, it was competitive and of course, as time went on, the endurance levels of senior players showed and it was reflected in Torquay's dominance of the game." Simon Walton started the match in the holding midfield position but was substituted midway through the second half after suffering from cramp. "We brought Simon off as precaution," explained Sadler. "He was straight down the tunnel for a little bit of ice on the back of his knee but he should be alright for the bench on Tuesday."
Simon Walton has admitted playing any first team football for Argyle between now and the end of the season would be a bonus for him. He has played four times for Argyle's reserves this month, and will get another run-out against Torquay United at Home Park today. Walton said: "I feel all right fitness-wise, and with each week and each game it's getting better and better. It's a long process. It doesn't come overnight, but each game I have played I feel like I have got sharper. I'm not kidding myself, I'm not near where I would want to be yet, but I'm a lot further forward than everybody expected six or seven months ago. I'm just glad to be back." Walton has been an unused substitute for the first team on three occasions and would relish the chance of a return to action. He said: "I reckon I could do a job. I wouldn't be up to full speed, but I feel capable enough to play. I wouldn't put myself out there and be a hindrance to the team. I have been on the bench for three games now and it has been good to be involved. Hopefully, if I can get a few games in before the end of the season it would be a bonus for me." Walton was injured in his first game, a pre-season friendly, of what should have been a season-long loan to Sheffield United. He said: "It was one of those things. It was hard ground, my studs got caught and I fell funny. It was unfortunate to say the least. When I first went to see the surgeon and the United physio it was a case of, 'look, just concentrate on getting yourself ready for next season'. But I got my head down and worked hard. Unfortunately, the situation at Argyle isn't the best but, to be honest, I'm just glad to be back in and around training and playing games at whatever level it is." Walton had to wait until August 23rd for the operation to repair the cruciate ligament to allow time for the swelling around the knee to subside. Initially, his rehabilitation did not go according to plan. He added: "I had to have another operation a couple of weeks later because of an infection that got in my knee. So to come back this quick was even better. Touch wood, everything has gone by the book since then and I owe a lot to the people who have been around me the last few months. It's the injury nobody wants. I know it sounds silly, but a broken leg is easy to fix. It wasn't a nice thing to happen but, like I say, I have been fortunate to have a lot of good people around me."
Peter Reid has hailed Rory Fallon's decision to stay and fight for Argyle as 'brilliant' and a reflection of the 'great team spirit' at Home Park. Reid had been told by Brendan Guilfoyle that he needed to let Fallon go out on loan to Bristol Rovers, as the club needed the loan fee. But Fallon instantly rejected the switch and told Reid: 'I'm not going anywhere, not while the club are in trouble'. Reid said: "I'd been told on the phone by the administrator, that we needed to take up the offer from Bristol Rovers to take Rory on loan as the club needed the money. I'm fully aware of the situation and know the administrator has his job to do and I told 'well, it's up to the player'. Not longer afterwards, I had a call from Rory who said basically there was no way he was going anywhere, while the club was in the position it was in. He told me 'listen, we've got eight matches left this season and I want to be involved and fight for points alongside the lads, I'm not going anywhere while the club is in this kind of trouble'. Rory's attitude has been brilliant throughout all and his attitude simply reflects the great spirit we have here at Plymouth Argyle. Only recently, we had our young striker Joe Mason reject a move to Swindon Town, stating that he wanted to stay here and do his best for Argyle. So, I'm delighted about that and although it's going to the remainder of the season is going to be very tough, I think Rory's attitude reflects the desire to stay and fight for the club. He's been top class for us and so have all the other lads." Argyle do not play again until tomorrow week, when they travel to Leyton Orient and Reid is hopeful that Fallon's groin injury will have improved sufficiently for him to play. He added: "Rory has been carrying this groin injury for a while, but with the rest and treatment, I'm hopeful he'll be fit for the Orient match. I know he really wants to play, too."
Argyle will face a court hearing later this week unless a debt dispute can be settled with former directors today, it is reported. Talks over mortgages linked to the club were set to continue in London this afternoon, with two parties still bidding to buy Argyle. Keith Todd and Roy Gardner are in charge of two mortgages which fall outside of the projected valuation of Home Park and Todd is due to meet Brendan Guilfoyle at his London offices this afternoon for a second round of meetings. Repayment demands Todd laid out during talks with administrators in Plymouth last week were rebuffed by the leading bidder. Guilfoyle and lawyers acting on behalf of the club worked through the weekend to put together a court application in case no agreement can be reached today. They could use insolvency law to ask a court to unsecure any mortgages falling above Home Park’s updated value. Both bidders have indicated they would pay much-needed running costs and administration fees if a deal can be struck over the two mortgages linked to Todd and Gardner and sources close to the talks have named Truro City chairman Kevin Heaney as the leading bidder. He has denied any involvement. Reports suggest a £100,000 deposit has already been released, currently with solicitors, as the first part of a £1million kitty that would buy the bidder exclusivity in the takeover talks, and fund Argyle, for up to four months. That cash is understood to have come from former Goldman Sachs banker Koichiro Abe, who stated his interest in being part of a takeover bid last month. Abe is an associate of George Synan and Yasuaki Kagami and loaned the club £320,000 through Mastpoint last year. He has been in recent contact with Todd, who admitted last week he was ‘encouraging’ the Japanese businessman to invest in the club.
The Argyle youth team lost 5-0 at Swansea City yesterday. Argyle: Varazinskis, Hart, Sawyer, Stephens, Clifford, Young, Berry, Clarvis, Baker, Rickard, Sims. Subs - Harper-Penman, Copp (not used - Bradley, Ramday, Walton).
Rory Fallon came close to leaving Home Park before the loan deadline last week. Reports suggest Peter Ridsdale delivered a message from administrator Brendan Guilfoyle to Peter Reid saying: ‘You have to let Rory Fallon go to Bristol Rovers, we need the loan fee.' In the end though, Fallon turned Rovers down. Somehow, Reid has maintained morale on and off the pitch, a situation epitomised by Fallon’s decision to stay and try and help the club avoid relegation. “We still come in to work with a smile on our faces,” Reid said last week. “Everybody from the tea lady upwards is getting stuck in. We'll battle all the way. The important thing is to maintain our dignity and work ethic - that's down to me, and we're doing that. I can't affect the financial situation but I can affect the players going out on to the pitch. It has been difficult for them when they're not getting paid. It's not like the Premier League or the Championship where they're on really good money. Some of these lads have been struggling to pay their mortgages and it's very worrying for them. But their attitude has been unbelievable.” Despite Argyle’s situation, Reid remains grateful for the opportunity to become a manager again, after a spell under Tony Pulis at Stoke. “I was happy at Stoke,” he said. “I appreciated Tony giving me the chance to return to the Premier League after two years coaching Thailand, but I wanted to be a manager again and Plymouth offered me a new challenge. They had just been relegated from the Championship but I felt I could get them back up. It didn't matter that one of the provisos was to cut the wage bill, but the situation was worse than I was led to believe. I had to do a lot of chopping and changing; selling players and using my contacts to bring in others on loan. I was grateful that Carlo Ancelotti, Frank Arnesen and Harry Redknapp loaned me players and helped out with their wages. They were terrific gestures. You learn to deal with situations you'd never come up against on a coaching course. There is no theorising or practical exercise that comes near it. You have to take the positives out of it and that's what I always try to do. Nobody is giving up. We've got eight cup finals in front of us against some of the strongest teams in the league and we'll give it everything. The light at the end of the tunnel is trying to avoid relegation. I can channel all my energies into doing that. The bigger picture is the club keeping going, which is out of my hands. I want to manage in the Premier League again but certain things give you a glow and I get a sense of satisfaction working here. My old Bolton boss, Ian Greaves, once said to me when he was manager at Mansfield: ‘Do you know what the most important club in the world is? It's Mansfield Town - because it's my club.’ Well mine is Plymouth. It's a club that deserves to succeed and I want to play my part in making sure that it does.”
Chris Clark is making a faster than expected recovery from a knee injury and Peter Reid hopes he will be fit for the game at Leyton Orient on April 5th. Reid said: "I have spoken to Chris and he told me his knee is feeling a lot easier. We are quite hopeful he will be available for the next game, which will be a boost for us." Kari Arnason is also on the mend from a groin injury and could be available after his two match ban ends against Leyton Orient. Reid said: "It's getting better all the time. He hasn't joined in with training yet, but he has been working in the gym." Luke Summerfield is also moving closer to a return to action. He has not played since August because of two separate knee ligament injuries but hopes to be back next month. Reid said: "He has seen the specialist and been told he can step things up." Meanwhile, Reid has taken it easy with his players this week as they have no game today. The squad were given four days off after the game against Rochdale, before returning to training on Thursday. Reid added: "It's just about keeping the players bright and bubbly at the moment because fitness-wise they are fine."
Curtis Nelson has been called up to the England under-18 squad to face Italy on April 12th.
Jack Stephens has turned down the chance of signing for Fulham and has told Peter Reid that he wants to continue learning his trade at Home Park. Reid said: "Jack has turned down Fulham. He told me it was a superb set-up there and he had enjoyed having a look around, but he wanted to stay at Argyle and carry on his football education with us." Brendan Guilfoyle had been hoping the sale of Stephens would have raised much-needed funds but was keen to point out, though, that no pressure had been put on him to agree to sign for Fulham. Guilfoyle said: "You have got to remember he's a young kid, but we need funding so I'm disappointed. I'm exploring all avenues open to me but, at the moment, they aren't coming off." Guilfoyle added he thought there was still interest from other clubs in Stephens.
Argyle cannot cash in on Joe Mason, Brendan Guilfoyle has revealed. He told a press conference yesterday that there had been a good deal of interest from clubs in the striker but under Football League rules there is no mechanism whereby Argyle could engage in a pre-contract arrangement with any other club in order to raise funds. Guilfoyle said: "There's been lots of interest in Mason, but we don't think we can structure something that meets with Football League approval. That's because it is outside of the transfer window, and the emergency loan window closes today. If we could, we would, but it doesn't look as though we can. We feel a little bit frustrated. But it looks as though any business we do with players will have to be done at the end of the season. However, it's a chicken and egg situation, as we've got to get to the end of the season." Asked if there were any extenuating circumstances where the Football League would relax their rules, Guilfoyle said: "The Football League's principal role is to maintain the integrity of their competitions, regulations are regulations. We have a good relationship with the Football League and we tried to see if we could work within the regulations. They have been very helpful and told us what we can and can't do. We have to communicate that to an acquiring club, who will want guarantees they would get the player, and those sort of arrangements would affect Football League regulations as I understand it." One source of much-needed income this week would be the completion of Jack Stephens to Fulham, who do not have to wait until the summer transfer window opens in order to sign Stephens, as he is a non-professional. Guilfoyle said he had not heard back yet from either of the parties and was awaiting news, although he was keen to stress he did not want to put pressure on the youngster. He said: "I know Jack's been at Fulham, but I don't know any more, is the honest answer to that. He is a scholar and the situation has to be handled very sympathetically to recognise his age. His father's heavily engaged with that so we don't ring Jack and say things like 'the future of this club is dependent on you' or anything like that. We've managed that situation sympathetically in the manner that you would expect, Peter Ridsdale has done that for us."
A young Argyle side lost 5-4 on penalties in last nights Devon Bowl semi-final against Buckland Athletic, having drawn 2-2 in normal time, the goals scored by Simon Walton and Matt Rickard. Argyle: Chenoweth, Hart, Sawyer, Pearce, Richards, Walton, Copp, Young, Rickard, Sims, Ramday. Subs – Le Cointe (not used - Berry, Clarvis, Bradley, Varazinskis).
Southampton made a late bid to have Saturday's postponed game against Argyle go ahead as originally scheduled. Rory Fallon, Onismor Bhasera and Joe Mason were all on international duty this weekend but have pulled out of their respective international obligations owing to injury. Because of this Southampton asked the Football League if the game could go ahead on its original date. However, the League refused, as Saints' manager Nigel Adkins explained. "We did enquire about it and we know now that the fixture won't be replayed," he said. "We can't control it, we were happy to play at the weekend, we wanted to play originally. But there's nothing we could do about it. The League's decision is final and you have to get on with it, simple as that."
Earlier today Brendan Guilfoyle hosted a press conference to update the media and fans on the situation at Home Park regarding potential purchasers and the funding of the club whilst in administration. This is a transcript of what he said, followed by some questions from the media and answers that were given: "The purpose today for me for calling this Press conference is to update you on where I am with Plymouth Argyle. I have always been emphasising that the urgent issue is funding. So we have identified purchasers and we have asked them to fund us. Because, quite simply, we don't have any funding whatsoever; we are living hand to mouth. Just for clarity, we are not being paid any money so my team, including lawyers, are all working on what we call a contingency basis - i.e. we get paid contingent on a successful outcome. Staff, including footballers, have similarly deferred all their wages so, effectively, nobody is being paid here. We are just paying for the essential supplies we need on a day to day basis, which is not a very satisfactory situation. It continues the uncertainty and it causes a lot of comment about whether we can achieve our objective. As administrators, our objective is to rescue the football club so, as I have previously alluded, we have a variety of techniques which we use to fund football clubs going forward: you have seen one of them which is wage deferrals. Unusually for me, I think this is the first time I have been involved in a total deferral. In other situations, we have used player sales but the transfer window is closed so we have been looking at the emergency loan window. However, I think there are significant difficulties in trying to do business under that category. The final one is to identify purchasers and say: 'Look, if you want to buy this club, you need to fund it to keep it going whilst you do all the necessary investigation work and due diligence that you require to buy the club.' Every bid we received, and there were more than one, made no significant provision for the third secured creditor. All purchasers took the same approach, which was to offer a nominal sum now and the prospect of some payment in the future, should the club enjoy a rise up the leagues. I think most of them took the approach of some payment applicable in the Championship and some larger payment applicable in the Premiership. So they all took the view that, essentially, the position of the third secured creditor was not very strong. Our evaluation of the stadium by independent valuers confirms that situation is that we are still waiting on the final formal valuation but there is a very clear indication that the stadium is worth no more than is owed to the first and second secured creditors, Lombard and the Supporters Trust. The offers we received were consistent with the valuations we received, so we were comfortable with that situation. We then went to the prospective purchaser, the best bid, and said: ‘Okay, what we need is funding’ and we received an indication that a substantial amount of funding was available. By substantial, a seven-figure sum would be made available to us over a relatively brief period of time. It would be in stages but at least that would give us the opportunity to plan going forward. Then, one morning, in a conference call, we were required to get an indication from the third secured creditor, Mastpoint, and their loan note interest that the offer that the purchaser was making, which was consistent with all the other offers, was acceptable to them and that they would go along with that offer and remove their security from the stadium when the required time came. The answer we got was that it was unacceptable and we received a counter offer, or an indication of what they would accept, which also included an unsecured creditor, Ticketus, the season-ticket finance company who financed the tickets this year and next year. They also imposed a requirement to take over that liability, so I viewed the two positions to be so far apart, I could not conceive how those two positions could be reconciled. We communicated the counter offer and we received an indication that it perhaps wasn't going to be negotiated. We have gone off and taken legal advice on how we can, in very plain language, deal with a creditor who will not accept that they are largely out of the money. We communicated that legal advice to lawyers acting for Mastpoint and there has been a flurry of activity this morning. There is obviously a concern of what I am going to say today so I need to be very clear and tell you that even though these two positions seemed irreconcilable yesterday there is now every indication that they are going to negotiate. Hopefully, they will come to some arrangement with a prospective purchaser that puts that purchaser in a position where he will fund me and puts me in a position where I am comfortable that they're not getting their money to the detriment of any other creditor that may be ahead of them. That's really where we are. Hopefully the ongoing negotiations will come to fruition, or I go to court and get the courts to direct as to how I can deal with this. The difficulty with going to court is that is expensive, it is to some extent always uncertain, and one of the issues - the big issue - that we have here is that we don't have any money. So it is not helpful for me to be pushed along that line and it continues the uncertainty because it will probably take weeks, rather than days, for the matter to be heard in court and then there are appeal procedures so the uncertainty continues. Clearly what I would like to do is to negotiate or be party to negotiations between a potential purchaser and the Mastpoint interest and bring it all together in a way that doesn't cause any harm to any other creditors."
Question: Under the negotiations as they stand, are you or Mastpoint looking for a deal whereby both Lombard and Supporters Trust will still be paid in full and Mastpoint gets a proportion of the money owed to them? Answer: Logically, if Mastpoint are going to receive any money what they will receive will be largely in the future. So it will be contingent on events happening. As it is currently structured, if the club is Football Leagues 1 or 2 then it's unlikely that they will get any money, so it's a future payment. If Mastpoint are going to receive some future payment, then I'd expect those in front of them to be happy with their position.
Question: So the prospective purchaser will pay the Supporters Trust the money owed to them? Answer: I think the proposal is that he will roll it over, so he would assume responsibility for the loan and presumably service it as an interest payment.
Question: And service the Lombard loan or get rid of that one? Answer: I think the potential purchaser is looking to repay the Lombard loan. The real issue is we want to negotiate a settlement that's acceptable to the purchaser and to us and move forward in this process because really we are stuck on stage one. This is the stage I hope to get out the way very quickly - secured funding, get players and staff paid something, then we move on to getting a sale and purchase agreement, and then we get the CVA. Mastpoint are an integral part of it along the way because if they accept that their security is valueless then they become quite a large creditor in the CVA. So as well as getting them to agree their position with the purchaser so he can fund us, we want them to vote for the CVA so we can get a smooth transfer of the Football League share at the end of the process. So they are an integral part of it all. We can't ignore them and we don't want to ignore them and we don't really want to go off to court because we might win that battle in court but then we have got another situation where we need their goodwill in supporting the club in the CVA. They are relevant in more than one stage of this process so there is really need on my part, a real desire, to engage but all I can do is take the offers that I have received and I'm saying 'That's the best I've got for you' and they're saying 'That's not good enough. This is what we want'. They are an integral part in the mechanism to obtain funding and they are going to be an integral part as an unsecured creditor.
Question: You seem confident that an agreement is going to be reached now with Mastpoint. How long have you got to do that before you have to make the decision to go to court? Answer: My concern is that, the longer the talk goes on, there is more and more publicity and more and more questions posed and that may discourage others. There are other potential purchasers out there so I need to get a quick resolution to get over this hurdle."
The owner of Truro City, Kevin Heaney, has denied he is trying to buy Argyle. Heaney stated that speculation he was leading the race to take over at Home Park was wide of the mark. A Cornwall-based businessman is in pole position to buy Argyle out of administration but takeover talks have hit a stumbling block over the value of the stadium. It is understand Home Park is now being independently revalued as pressure mounts on Keith Todd and Roy Gardner. The leading bidder, understood to have ongoing business interests in both football and property, is unwilling to part with any cash until nearly £2million of mortgages linked to the pair are either unsecured or written-off. Unless a funding agreement is signed by the end of the month, Argyle could be forced out of business for good, administrator Brendan Guilfoyle has warned. A repayment plan that would see the Mastpoint collective given their cash back if Argyle return to the Championship or reach the Premier League has been discussed. Guilfoyle said he held ‘encouraging’ talks with lawyers in London yesterday, and added: "The preferred bidder asked Mastpoint to remove their security from the stadium, a move which was deemed unacceptable. The two positions were so far apart I couldn't see how they could be reconciled. However, there is now every indication that Mastpoint are going to re-negotiate with a prospective purchaser." Guilfoyle said that a valuation of Home Park had revealed that ‘the stadium is worth no more than is owed to Lombard and the Supporters Trust - Mastpoint is not included in the valuation’. Guilfoyle and his colleagues at the P&A Partnership are not being paid at present, and they have said will only seek remuneration if a buyer for Argyle is found.
Peter Reid’s depleted squad has been hit by another injury, this time to Chris Clark. A knee injury he suffered in the closing stages of the defeat by Rochdale on Saturday has been scanned and the medical staff are now assessing the severity of it. Also, Joe Mason has been troubled by a sore ankle in recent matches and he has withdrawn from the Republic of Ireland under-21 squad for their friendly in Portugal on Friday. Reid said: “He has been playing with an ankle injury which we have kept quiet about. He has just got on with it. I have had to play people who are carrying injuries because of the size of our squad.”
Peter Reid has come to the defence of Simon Walton over his red card in the reserves' defeat by Exeter City. Walton was sent off by the referee for swearing, after Exeter were awarded a free-kick but Reid revealed there was another side to the story. Reid said: "I'm led to believe he was talking to a team-mate, not the officials. I'm not condoning what he did, but I'm sure it was borne out of frustration. The lad has been out for a long time and it was a difficult game for an experienced player to be involved in. Sometimes you lose control. You don't want players sent-off, and it does set a bad example for young players. But, on the other hand, I can understand the situation. Sometimes, I just wish referees could have a quiet word in a player's ear. That's just my opinion, but those days seem to have gone in football." Walton will be suspended for two matches, starting 14 days after the offence and Argyle are awaiting confirmation from the Football League that his ban will only apply to reserve, not first team, matches. Walton will be part of the squad for the Devon St Luke's Bowl semi-final at Buckland Athletic tonight.
Jack Stephens has taken a step closer to completing a transfer to Fulham. Stephens and his father were in London yesterday to visit the club. Fulham have agreed to pay an initial £125,000 and Argyle could receive more money in the future, based on first team appearances or an international call-up. Fulham can complete the signing of Stephens now, rather than waiting until the transfer window reopens in the summer, because he is not a professional. The Premier League club have carried out the negotiations with Peter Ridsdale and agent Jamie Hart has also been involved. He is acting as an independent advisor to administrator Brenda Guilfoyle on any deals for players. There is also the possibility Argyle might have to accept offers for Curtis Nelson and Joe Mason unless a potential bidder for the club provides funding. The deadline for Football League clubs to make emergency loan signings is Thursday, so clubs outside the Premier League could do deals for Mason or Nelson on that basis, before completing permanent transfers in the summer.
A young Argyle reserve team lost 7-0 to Exeter City at St James' Park last night. The only experienced professional in the Argyle line-up, Simon Walton, was sent off in the second half for foul and abusive language. Argyle: Chenoweth, Hart, Sawyer, Richards, Clarvis, Vassell, Young, Walton, Copp, Rickard, Sims. Subs – Ramday (not used - Varazinskis, Bradley, Berry, Pearce, LeCointe).
Argyle’s potential new owners are property developers, not fans of the club, Brendan Guilfoyle has confirmed. Two parties remain in talks over buying the club, with Guilfoyle hoping to have his ‘preferred bidder’ in place and paying vital running costs later today. Speaking at an Argyle Fans’ Trust meeting on Saturday Guilfoyle said both bidders were planning to use income from developments around Home Park to fund the club. Asked about the bidders, who have both asked for anonymity, Guilfoyle said: “Their motives seem to surround property development. I’m not in the fortunate position where I’ve been able to find a group of high-wealth individuals who are also fans of the club.”
Peter Reid has promised Argyle will keep fighting to avoid relegation. He said: "We are going to have to win games aren't we? It's as simple as that. At the moment we are finding that hard. But we have just got to keep trying, and we will do. We are going to have to hit some really good form." Argyle's defeat against Rochdale was particularly costly as most of the teams around them in the table won, leaving them one point adrift at the bottom of the table. More importantly, they are six points behind 20th-placed Dagenham and Redbridge, but have played four more matches. Reid added: "The league table looks a bit grim at the minute. Hopefully, the results will go for us next week, but we can only affect what we can do. We have got Leyton Orient next, in what seems like a month to be fair! We have got to go there and get something, and it will be very difficult because they are in a particularly good run of form. But we have been to certain places this season and done really well."
Peter Reid could not fault his players for their endeavour during Argyle's defeat by Rochdale on Saturday. He said: "I thought the players gave us everything but we weren't good enough to break them down. We had a few opportunities. We hit the post with one header and a couple of times the ball was cleared off the line. I thought at half-time that one goal would decide it, so when they got it early in the second half it was a bit of a blow. Obviously, I changed it after that and went as attack-minded as I could, but I thought we got a little anxious. We went too long from back to front too many times, when it was on to give it to the full-backs or centre-halves to make up the ground. Rochdale sat in there and did it well, which made it difficult for us. But apart from that and not getting a goal, the players have given me everything and that's all I can ask for. If it's not good enough on the day, then it's not good enough on the day." Argyle had started the match strongly, but Rochdale were soon ahead after the break. Reid continued: "At any level, the first goal in a game is important. It does set you back, no matter what you say. The players didn't lose confidence, but they lost the rhythm in their play. It does affect you. Like I said, the determination and effort from the players was great, but maybe we were lacking a bit of quality in certain areas. On the odd occasion, I thought we slashed at things and didn't take care of the football. That's an anxiety, and I think in the circumstances you can understand why, but we have got to try to get better than that. We have got eight games left now, and they are eight massive games for us." The scoreline was still 0-0 when Yannick Bolasie sent a header against the outside of the far post after a fine cross from Chris Clark. Reid said: "He headed one in against Carlisle, which nicked in off the post. This one came from a great move and a fantastic ball in, I have got to say, and if that goes in the net then maybe it's a different story. But when it's going against you sometimes that doesn't happen. Rochdale made a couple of blocks where you have got to say it was good defending. They had a couple of chances and we made a couple of blocks. It was that sort of game, where one goal was always going to win it." The lack of attacking options available to Reid was clear. He said: "When it's like that, you have got to have widemen who can go past people. Yala Bolasie is that type, but we haven't got another one. Clarky, to be fair, is going out there and it's not a natural position for him, and we haven't really got attack-minded full-backs. I think that causes you a problem and you have got to say that was a good gameplan from them. I thought it was a good football match. One goal was going to win it, and unfortunately, we didn't get it."
Next weekend's scheduled game with Southampton has already been postponed due to international call-ups, but all three of Argyle’s internationals may be unable to link up with their respective national teams. "Rory Fallon's got a groin injury so I'm going to have to pull him out of the New Zealand trip," said Peter Reid, "He's had a problem with it and we've been nursing him through it, but he said it's so sore. It's a blow to us. We've got to try to get him fit. Joe Mason's nursing an ankle injury so I'm going to have to see how he is. Obviously Bhasera's out. I don't think Bhasera is going to play again this season. That's another blow because he adds a bit of pace in wide positions. We've got one or two problems at the minute. But that's just the way it is." Chris Clark also limped off in stoppage time, and while Reid didn't have a chance to speak to him before facing the media, he is concerned about the knock, because given the players nature, Reid suspects it will have taken something nasty to force him off. "I haven't had a chat. But the way he is he'd have stayed on and had a go. It'll be a sore one knowing Clarky."
The Argyle youth team beat Bournemouth 1-0 at Elburton Villa yesterday, the goal scored by Jordan Berry. Argyle: Varazinskis, Bradley, Sawyer, Richards, Berry, Hart, Clarvis, Sims, Vassell, Rickard, Baker. Subs - LeCointe, Ramday (not used - Pearce, Ord).
Argyle lost 1-0 to Rochdale at Home Park. Argyle: Larrieu, N’Gala, Zubar, Nelson, Duguid, Bolasie, Fletcher, Peterlin, Clark, Fallon, Mason. Subs - Patterson, Paterson (not used – Button, Young, Timar, Walton). Attendance - 8,361.
Peter Reid has praised Simon Walton for his commitment to Argyle. The manager made it clear yesterday that he was impressed with the way Walton had applied himself since he had returned to training after recovering from a severe knee injury. He said: "Simon's in the squad today, having got through 70 minutes against Swansea. I've known the boy since he was at Leeds as a young player. His attitude has been similar to the other players – first and foremost, they want to get Argyle out of the situation it's in, so his attitude has been good. I asked him to go on the bench when he was less than 100 per cent fit and asked him if he was available. He jumped at the chance. I think that showed an attitude of he's going to do his best for this football club and I was really pleased with that. He's been terrific in training and had a really bad injury, but nowadays, with the specialists around, these sort of injuries are dealt with really well. In many cases, knees come back stronger than they were. Yes, he's got to rebuild his career, because he's definitely got ability."
Argyle continue their fight for survival against Rochdale at Home Park today. Rochdale were promoted last season and are currently 11th in the table. Peter Reid said: "They are a solid side right the way through. They have got Dawson at the back, Gary Jones in midfield – who is a terrific professional, and O'Grady up front." Argyle had successive games in the north of England over the past week and Reid added: "We had support at Hartlepool and Carlisle like you can't believe, so we are going to try to repay that." Reid said he felt it was possible for Argyle to win their fight to stay in League One, despite the 10-point deduction and praised the players for winning three of their last five games, and gaining dramatic late draw at Carlisle. He said: "It's going to be a battle of character and resilience to do it. But here, we're dealing with things we can affect, on the football pitch and we can do that."
Brendan Guilfoyle has revealed that Argyle takeover talks are set to stretch into next week. The leading bidder has now put cash in place to pay administration fees and running costs, but has not yet signed the funding agreement that will make them Guilfoyle’s ‘preferred bidder’. It is thought the bidder, a business figure from the South West, is unwilling to take on all four mortgages currently on Home Park, adding up to around £4.2 million. Negotiations are continuing this weekend over around £2 million of those loans. Mastpoint, an investment firm set up by Roy Gardner and Keith Todd, sourced a £1.4 million-plus mortgage through business associates. Gardner provided a further £400,000 mortgage. Guilfoyle said: “The funding issue has always been huge, and we’re limping along at the moment. There comes a point in time where we might have to recognise we can’t rescue the club, but I’ve got someone who is telling me they have got a clear intention of funding the club.”
Peter Reid, and his squad, are to continue working without pay to help ensure the survival of Argyle. They have agreed to defer their wages until the end of March after consultations with the Professional Footballers’ Association at Home Park yesterday. The players have not been paid by Argyle since December, and they have instead received loans from the PFA Any of them could have issued a ‘notice of termination’ to their contracts over non-payment of wages. But no player has done that, with Reid describing their response to the continuing financial crisis as ‘nothing short of fantastic.’ Reid said: “If it helps the football club to stay in existence it’s not a problem. The future of Plymouth Argyle is the most important thing. The players’ response to what’s going on has been nothing short of fantastic. It says a lot about the character of these men. They could have walked out on the club by now.” Reid also had words of praise for Argyle’s office staff, who have agreed to defer their wages until the end of April. “I feel for them,” he said. “Some of the sacrifices they are having to make are incredible. But the spirit among the staff is brilliant.” Reid gave his players the option of not training yesterday afternoon, as scheduled, in light of the request from the administrators to defer their wages. But all of the fit members of the squad took part in the session, under the supervision of Adam Sadler. Reid was involved in a series of meetings at the same time. He said: “I gave the lads the option of not training because, physically, they would have been fine. They have worked hard enough as it is, but they all wanted to do it. I had a chat with the players before training and I apologised to them. I said ‘sorry for what’s happening, but we are all in it together and let’s get on with it.’ They seemed to be good spirits to be fair.” The players must now try to overcome the effects of the long coach journey back from Carlisle and the continuing uncertainty over the future of the club when they take on Rochdale tomorrow. Reid said: “I’m just trying to get the lads fired up to win a football match. That’s all I can do. Obviously, there are people at the club who aren’t in a great frame of mind at the moment. It’s a very difficult situation, but if we could get a result tomorrow I’m sure we would put a few smiles back on people’s faces.” Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the players’ union, yesterday admitted he was proud of the way the Argyle squad were conducting themselves. He said: “It’s a difficult time for the players as, like anyone else, they have got bills to pay. We will help anyone in real financial problems. The players have all agreed to defer their wages until the end of March, which is a testament to their loyalty to the club. We spoke to the administrator about the prospect of him being able to get things sorted out. He then updated the players on the situation.” When asked about the chances of Argyle surviving as club, Taylor replied: “You have just got to remain hopeful.”
Fulham have emerged as the favourites to sign Jack Stephens. Reports suggest Fulham have agreed to pay £175,000 for Stephens, however, it is not clear whether any appearance-related or sell-on clauses have been negotiated as part of the deal. Peter Reid said: “I think Fulham have been in touch and the lad is having a look at the place with his father, which you can understand.”
Staff at Argyle have agreed to work unpaid for two months, after being told to sign legal papers or find new jobs. Takeover talks have hit a major stumbling block, with none of the four groups eyeing the club yet ready to stump up cash. Reports suggest negotiations over loans secured as a mortgage on Home Park are holding the deal up. Workers were expecting Argyle's administrators to announce a 'preferred bidder' for the club yesterday but were instead greeted with an ultimatum: defer their March and April salaries or walk away from their jobs. Staff and players were called into meetings yesterday morning and presented with 'deed of deferral' papers - documents asking to put off salary payments, players until the end of this month and other staff until April 30th. Administrators were forced to take the desperate step after failing to strike a funding deal with a bidder yesterday. By law, staff and player wages become the administrators' responsibility 14 days after the process begins but Brendan Guilfoyle and his colleagues are themselves currently working without funding while talks continue with the two parties leading the race to buy the club. If a funding agreement including the payment of staff salaries is reached with a preferred bidder, wages will be paid. Acting chief executive and chairman Peter Ridsdale said yesterday's move cleared the club's biggest financial burden, giving it the opportunity to continue operating into next week and beyond. He said: "The club is currently being run on the good will of the staff and players. This is a very unpleasant step but it's the regrettable legacy we've been left with, and what it now gives us is time to try and get a preferred bidder. Without the staff and the players we can't run the club. Their cooperation is outstanding and a tribute to their commitment." Staff at Home Park were stunned by the news yesterday. Gordon Bennett, head of youth development, said: "We were told that if we did not sign it then the administrators would walk away. They would walk away and there would be padlocks on the gates. We want Plymouth Argyle to go on." Talks with the two parties leading the race to buy Argyle hit a hurdle yesterday during a series of conference calls. Guilfoyle said: "We are still negotiating. We don't know how close we are but I'm told the indications are good. But I am a little concerned. I am disappointed that funding is not in place. Unfortunately, the uncertainty continues and that puts pressures on me."
Peter Reid fears Onismor Bhasera will be ruled out for the rest of the season by a knee ligament injury. The full extent of the injury is still unclear because his left knee remains swollen but Reid said: "I would be surprised if he plays again this season. Bas gave us a lot of energy on the left-side of midfield when he came back into the team. So his injury is a blow for the boy, certainly a blow for me as his manager and also for his team-mates. He's very popular in the dressing room." Argyle will also be without Kari Arnason for the visit of Rochdale to Home Park tomorrow. He is starting a two-match suspension and with Argyle then not having another fixture until April 5th, has three weeks to try to overcome a groin injury before the game against Walsall on April 9th. Reid said: "He's still feeling sore, but at least we have got some time to get him right." Arnason will be replaced by Anton Peterlin in the centre of midfield and Reid added: "I have been pleased with the way Anton has responded in the last two games. I thought he was excellent when he came on against Carlisle and I have no qualms about playing him tomorrow." On the bench will be Simon Walton, who continued his comeback by playing 70 minutes of the reserves' games with Swansea City on Tuesday. Reid said: "Swansea put a strong side out and he had to do a lot of work in the game, which will have done him good."
Rory Fallon will not now be travelling to Japan later this month to play for New Zealand in a friendly international, New Zealand Football having 'reluctantly' withdrawn from the fixture because of the crisis in Japan. Peter Reid said: "You can understand that decision. I think what's happening out there puts life into perspective." New Zealand will still play a friendly against China in Wuhan on March 25th.
Administrator Brendan Guilfoyle looks set to confirm the leading bidder to buy Argyle today, after a last-minute delay in signing off the deal. Guilfoyle had hoped to complete the deal on Tuesday night but delays in receiving legal papers mean an announcement, initially expected yesterday, has been put back to this afternoon. But Guilfoyle, who is due back in the city this afternoon, said he was ‘confident’ the deal would be finalized today. He said: "If we can't get funding by today we stand in a very difficult position. My principal aim is to make sure this football club survives, but to do that I must be funded. That hasn't changed. We are still talking to more than one party but it's looking like we're going to complete an exclusivity agreement with someone soon. It is with the lawyers but it is likely to be completed today."
A front-runner has emerged in the race to buy Argyle. One of the four groups to have made a bid was set to be announced as administrator Brendan Guilfoyle’s ‘preferred bidder’ today. Three firm offers for the club were tabled by Monday’s deadline, though a fourth party is understood to still be interested. A foreign-based British businessman, whose interest had been lined up by Keith Todd, pulled out of the race on Monday evening but one of the bidders was on the verge of signing a funding agreement with administrators last night. Guilfoyle said: “We are now negotiating funding with someone. There is one bidder that seems to be moving at a pace to conclude agreements on funding, and it looks as though they are prepared to fund the club going forward. We’re hopeful that we will conclude something today.” Guilfoyle would not reveal the identity of the bidder leading the race but said they could be announced as early as today. “That will be a matter for them,” he said. “We would like the period of exclusivity to go to the end of the season but we will have to see what the sums involved are.”
Kari Arnason has been suspended for two games after accumulating ten yellow cards this season. He will miss Saturday's visit of Rochdale and the trip to Leyton Orient after been cautioned for dangerous play in the draw with Carlisle.
Argyle kept alive their hopes of escaping relegation with a hard-fought draw at Carlisle United last night. Peter Reid said: "The lads have played some decent stuff, but we gave the ball away a bit too much for my liking when we should have kept it. Certainly in the first half, I thought there were opportunities for us if we had taken a bit more care with the final pass. We could have possibly been in front early on as we had two or three great chances which we didn't take, and then we got caught on the sucker punch. But you have got to say the players kept on going and I think we have got the least we deserved out of the game."
Argyle’s match with Southampton, originally scheduled for March 26th but postponed because of international call ups, has been re-arranged for Bank Holiday Monday, May 2nd, at 3pm.
Argyle reserves lost 1-0 to Swansea City at Home Park yesterday, Simon Walton playing 71 minutes of the game. Kevin Hodges praised his young team for sticking to the task and felt Walton, too, benefited with more minutes under his belt. "Given the gap in experience between the two sides, I felt the lads came out of the game with a good deal of credit," said Hodges. "They had players who are looking to get back into their Championship side, while we had a couple of lads making their debuts on first-team pitch. Our lads will have learnt a lot in this game, while for Simon it was more minutes on the pitch which will have done him good. Obviously, I'd have liked us to have pressed them more, although we did have three chances in the second period. But really, taking everything into account, I felt they acquitted themselves well." Argyle: Chenoweth, Hart, Clifford, Sawyer, Richards, Berry, Walton, Copp, Rickard, Sims, Baker. Subs - LeCointe, Pearce (not used - Bradley, Varazinskis).
Peter Reid dropped Anton Peterlin for Argyle's draw at Carlisle, and then paid tribute to the his point-winning contribution. "Anton has been unlucky," said Reid. "He played well on Saturday and he came on and played well here. He was unlucky to get left out and I was delighted he knocked the ball in for the goal. It was a great free-kick. There was pace on the ball and it was in the right area so Yala could get on the end of it. He also took care of the ball when he came on. All credit to the lad." Reid also rested Jim Paterson in favour of Karl Duguid. "He did alright," said Reid. "I just thought Jim has had a few games on the trot and has been through a traumatic time, personally, so I would make a change."
Argyle will be without Kari Arnason for Saturday's visit of Rochdale to Home Park. He limped off during the draw at Carlisle with a groin problem after picking up a tenth yellow card of the season, which brings an automatic one-match ban. Arnason has been sent off twice this season and warned about his lack of discipline by manager Peter Reid. However, Reid felt he was not at fault this time. "I thought he was unlucky to get booked," he said. "I thought he was strong, he held the lad off, and it was an unlucky decision for the boy." Reid also felt his side was unlucky to concede a goal in similar circumstances to the second in the defeat by Hartlepool, from a disputed foul. "There was a free-kick in front of me that the referee gave to them where they ended up scoring," he added. "We were a little bit unlucky. It sounds like I'm moaning now, 'every time they get a decision, they go down and score', but that's the way I see it."
Argyle drew 1-1 at Carlisle, the goal scored by Yannick Bolasie after 84 minutes. Argyle: Larrieu, Duguid, N’Gala, Zubar, Nelson, Bolasie, Arnason, Fletcher, Clark, Fallon, Mason. Subs - Patterson, Peterlin, Paterson (not used – Button, Young, Timar). Attendance - 3,354.
A consortium linked to Keith Todd has pulled out of the race to buy Argyle. Reports suggest that at least three firm bids were tabled by yesterday's deadline, which has been informally extended by Brendan Guilfoyle. Neither Todd nor any other ex-director are involved in any of the offers, sources have confirmed. Todd had been trying to line up a bid funded by an overseas-based UK investor but a source linked to Affinity Sports Finance, the group acting as agents in the deal, said a number of issues led to them failing to meet the deadline. In a statement, Affinity’s partners Terry Pritchard and James Robinson said: “As advisers we felt that more time could have resulted in a different outcome. Both ASF and the potential investors wish the club luck and success in obtaining the required investment.” The name leading the race to buy Argyle could be revealed as early as tomorrow and Guilfoyle was expecting a further offer last night. Guilfoyle has asked each buyer for a six-figure sum, which would buy them a period of exclusivity in buyout talks. He said: "We have had a number of offers and we are communicating with those bidders in respect of getting an exclusivity agreement. The offers we have had are well worthy of consideration and some of them have indicated they are ready to fund. We will not say it is ‘Mr X’ because we want to make sure we have secured the funding first. I am grateful for the offers I have received but now I urgently need to secure funding. The club is living from hand to mouth and we are scraping the barrel and scratching around for money. We have to pay for the insurance for players, for example, to enable them to play. But this limping has got to stop. We now need the funding.” All of the parties to have submitted firm offers were originally brought to the negotiating table by Peter Ridsdale.
Kari Arnason and Chris Clark are set to return to action for Argyle at Carlisle United tonight. Arnason took part in a 75-minute training session at Sunderland's Academy of Light yesterday, although he was not pushed too hard. He will vie with Anton Peterlin for a place in the centre of midfield. Clark, meanwhile, has completed a three-match ban and could slot into the left-side of midfield, replacing the injured Onismor Bhasera. Peter Reid yesterday said: "The training yesterday was short and sharp. I just wanted to keep it bright and breezy. We did a small-sided game and some technical work. Arnie joined in training and I'm hopeful he will be fit for tonight. And Clarky is back, which is another bonus. We need bodies at the moment because Bas being out is a blow." Romain Larrieu was expected to fly up to the North West today after attending the birth of his second child in Plymouth yesterday. Carlisle suffered a 6-0 defeat at Peterborough United on Saturday and Reid said: "You are always very wary when you play teams who are coming off a result like that, but it's about what we do. I was really disappointed with the goals we let in against Hartlepool. I don't think they had to work for both of them. We played some decent stuff but you can't afford to concede sloppy goals. We are going out to get a victory, simple as. We have got to be positive. We know it's going to be hard because they have got a good record at home. But we have proved at Bristol Rovers, MK Dons and Sheffield Wednesday that we can go away and play well, and get results. We have got 10 cup finals to play, but we are desperate to get a victory against Carlisle."
Jim Paterson has been working on qualifying for his UEFA 'A' licence coaching badge during Argyle's stay in the North East. The squad had Sunday off and most of the players went on a trip to a nearby cinema and a tenpin bowling centre, but Paterson used his spare time in a different way. He said: "It's something I would like to do after I have finished playing. When I'm not playing football, I'm watching it on the TV. That's just the way I am. I should have been at a session last weekend, but I missed it because we had games on Saturday and Tuesday. So I had seven hours of coaching sessions to plough through on Sunday and I will send it up to the SFA. Overcoming offside was my topic, and I was bored to tears because it's not really my strong point! I had to write out the sessions I would have done if I had been there last weekend. I have already done my 'B' licence and I'm on my 'A' licence assessment during the summer. So, hopefully, fingers crossed, I can pass that and that's me qualified." Paterson heard all about the players' trip later on. "I think Arnie and Rory Patterson were the worst of the bowlers, so I heard," he said. "They were getting a lot of stick yesterday, especially Arnie because he said he was good but was rotten." After their day off, the players were in high spirits at training yesterday. Peter Reid told them before the session not to dwell on the defeat against Hartlepool, but to focus fully on Carlisle. Paterson said: "It was disappointing on Saturday because I don't think we lost the battle. We lost poor goals. I think if we had scored first we would have gone on to win, but fair play to Hartlepool, it was a hard place to go. The mood in the camp is still good, even after Saturday. It wasn't like the performance against Brighton. We were always in the game. Confidence is quite high because we had won three games on the trot before Hartlepool, so we are looking to bounce back against Carlisle. The boys have spent a lot of time together this weekend and we have had a good laugh. I think you could see that on the training pitch yesterday morning. There are no excuses. It's not like we can say 'we had a hell of a journey', or that kind of thing. It has been good preparation, so we should all be fresh and ready to go against Carlisle." Tonights opponents are coming off a 6-0 thrashing at Peterborough United on Saturday. Paterson said: "It will be interesting to see how they react to that. If we can come out and be solid for 20 minutes, their fans might get restless because of the result at the weekend. But they are a decent team, and we know what we are in for." Argyle will take on Carlisle without Onismor Bhasera, who suffered a knee ligament injury against Hartlepool. Paterson added: "I was nearest to him when he went down and he was in a lot of pain. So fingers crossed it's not too bad, for his sake and the team."
Peter Reid admitted staying in the North East, rather than making separate trips for the matches at Hartlepool and Carlisle, had been a boost for the players. He said: "The games are physically demanding, and it has given them a chance to recover instead of travelling, which is a massive benefit. They had a free day on Sunday and I just told them to go in the leisure club and have a stretch, which they did."
A statement was released at 2.30pm, which read: "The Joint Administrators of Plymouth Argyle Football Club, Brendan Guilfoyle and Christopher White and John Russell have announced they have received a number of offers to acquire the Club. They are now pursuing a funding facility linked with an exclusivity agreement." Brendan Guilfoyle said: "The provision of funding by a purchaser is a key part of the purchase of Plymouth Argyle, I am grateful for the offers I have received but now I urgently need to secure funding."
Bids have been submitted by interested parties wanting to buy Argyle, but names and numbers will not be revealed today. However, reports suggest that no bid has been submitted Keith Todd, Roy Gardner or anyone else with a previous involvement in the club. The announcement came as HMRC went back to court in a bid to fast track a legal battle that has implications for the Argyle administration. HMRC is keen to ensure they recoup unpaid taxes when a new buyer comes in, but as the administration is voluntary they could find themselves at the bottom of the list. Brendan Guilfoyle said he hoped to make an announcement tomorrow about the bids, and he had advised those submitting bids to talk to solicitors to prove they had the funds, this would secure exclusive rights to deal with Guilfoyle and make them the preferred bidders. HMRC failed in a bid to fast track a legal challenge to the Football League's ‘football creditor rule’. There are fears that the rule will result in HMRC losing out in the Argyle administration in the same way they lost out in similar administrations of Portsmouth and Wimbledon. The tax man had asked the High Court to order a speedy trial of a legal battle with the Football League, in which it is claimed that the rule giving priority payments to football creditors is unlawful. However, Justice David Richards declined to order that the case be fast tracked ahead of a Supreme Court ruling expected soon. That ruling focuses on the legality of what is called the ‘anti-deprivation principle’ in a different area of law. He was told, however, by Hilary Stonefrost, counsel for Argyle's administrators, that the football creditor rule is unlikely to have a significant effect in the case of the Argyle administration. She said that the club owes millions to secured creditors, and that the expectation is that when the club is sold there will ‘not be anything for unsecured creditors’ such as HMRC. She said that the deadline for bids for the club was midday today, and that the administrators hope to arrange a company voluntary arrangement with its creditors in two weeks. They hope to have a purchase completed as soon as possible, and for the whole process to be complete within two months. Guilfoyle also added that he would be willing to consider any more bids submitted later today.
Argyle's game against Southampton on March 26th has been postponed, as predicted, due to international call-ups.
Argyle returned to the bottom of League One after losing at Victoria Park on Saturday, and Peter Reid saw several chances come and go on a frustrating afternoon. Reid had no complaints about the workrate of his team, but admitted their defending had let them down. He said: "I thought we gave as good as we got. Their 'keeper made some saves and it just didn't break for us. When N'Gala had the one blocked on the line, I had a feeling we weren't going to score today. But I thought we played some decent football in difficult conditions. The pitch isn't the greatest." Reid was aggrieved about the first goal because he felt Jim Paterson had been fouled in the build-up. He said: "The first goal, from our point of view, wasn't the greatest. It started with Romain's kick out. I thought there was a foul on Jim Paterson when he went for the header. Stephane got the wrong side, and the midfield player has run off Fletch, so it's a goal we could have stopped." Hartlepool doubled their lead in the 64th minute and Reid said: "The second goal was a sloppy one. I didn't think it was a free-kick, but we haven't defended it. And, like I have said before, if you don't defend and give away sloppy goals it's going to be difficult. But the lads have worked ever so hard and they kept on going. I thought it was a game we could have got something out of. We possibly deserved a point, but it wasn't to be. We didn't take our chances." The defeat by Hartlepool means the game at Carlisle United tomorrow takes on extra importance for Argyle. With Carlisle coming off a 6-0 defeat at Peterborough United on Saturday Reid said: "It's a bad result for us but now we need to bounce back against Carlisle. I think they have got a bit of a thumping today, so that's going to be a real tough game up there. But, knowing the players as I do, I'm sure they will come out fighting."
Anton Peterlin took no consolation from his return to the first team after Argyle's defeat at Hartlepool United on Saturday. He said: "I thought I did alright, but I wish we could have won. It would have been a much better way for me to come back into the team, especially as we are fighting to stay up." Peterlin has been starved of match practice over recent months but the reserves had a rare Combination fixture at Forest Green Rovers last Monday and Peterlin played in the 0-0 draw. He said: "I was glad I got that game in because it helped today. But the speed is completely different." Peterlin started the first three matches of the season for Argyle, but soon fell out of favour with Peter Reid. Peterlin said: "I'm a professional, so I have just kept my head up and worked hard in training. I wanted a chance to show what I have got. I gave it my all today, so we will see what happens on Tuesday. It's mentally draining when you're not playing, that's for sure, but you have got to have belief in yourself and what you can do." Hartlepool took the lead in the 21st minute with a goal from midfielder Antony Sweeney and centre-back Sam Collins secured the points in the 64th minute. Peterlin said: "I thought we did alright, but we just had two lapses in defence. It would have been nice to get a goal back, I think that's the least we deserved, and maybe that would have changed the match. You never know what's going to happen after you score a goal. It was a tough game, and we should have done better, but the bottom line is we lost." The conditions at Victoria Park were not conducive to flowing football, and Hartlepool adapted better than Argyle. Peterlin added: "It was a battle. The pitch was very bobbly and the ball was up in the air a lot. It was a bruising match." There was a setback for Argyle when Onismor Bhasera suffered a knee ligament injury in the 34th minute. Peterlin said: "He has come back and played three or four games and has done well for us. So it was a blow for the team, and it's bad for him as well on a personal note." He added: "We created chances today, like we have been doing in other games, but the ball just didn't drop our way. Bondz had a shot blocked right in front of the goal. It's not like we played terribly. We kept going, but they got the two goals. That's the way the cookie crumbles sometimes. Rory Fallon posed a real threat up front, but it just wouldn't bounce our way. The other teams down the bottom of the table drew, so it would have been awesome if we had won, but it's not how it happened, is it? Tuesday night is an important game for us now."
Onismor Bhasera suffered a knee ligament injury during Argyle's defeat by Hartlepool and looks sure to miss the game at Carlisle United tomorrow. After the game, Bhasera left the dressing room on crutches and was clearly in some discomfort, but physio Paul Atkinson confirmed that the knee injury was unrelated to his previous one. Peter Reid said: "I feared the worst when he came off but he feels a lot more comfortable now. Keep your fingers crossed. It's better to get him home and get him sorted out there."
Three Argyle players are returning to Plymouth following the defeat at Hartlepool United. Romain Larrieu is going back, as planned, to be with wife Penny at the birth of their second child, before flying up for the match at Carlisle United, while Simon Walton will play in Tuesday's reserve game against Swansea at Home Park. They will be joined by Onismor Bhasera, who was stretchered off yesterday after suffering what Peter Reid described as ‘a pop in his knee’. After the game, Reid said: "He seems a lot more comfortable. I was fearing the worst when he came off. It's better to get him home and get him sorted. I think he's doubtful for Tuesday. He's going to go back with Romain, and Simon Walton will go back as well because there's a reserve game in which he can get 90 minutes." The Argyle squad will be boosted by the return of Chris Clark, after suspension, and possibly Kari Arnason, who is suffering from hamstring problems. Reid will also have the option of calling on Anton Peterlin, who made his first start for six months against Hartlepool. "I thought he did alright," said Reid. "I was pleased with the boy. He's a midfield player who has played well in the reserves. I felt he was right today. Just a gut feeling." Apart from the three absentees, the players have remained in the north following the match, at a hotel part funded by donations from fans. "The support was great and I'd like to thank them for organising it," added Reid. "The lads appreciate it. Now we need to get a result for them on Tuesday."
Argyle will play Buckland Athletic in the Devon FA St Luke's Bowl semi-final at Newton Abbot on March 23rd. Because of that fixture, the reserve game with Exeter City at St James' Park on March 22nd has now been brought forward 24 hours to March 21st.
The Argyle youth team beat Oxford United 5-1 at Haye Road yesterday, the goals scored by Jared Sims, Connor Clifford, Matt Rickard (2) and Jack Stephens. Argyle: Varazinskis, Bradley, Stephens, Richards, Hart, Berry, Clarvis, Sims, Baker, Rickard, Clifford. Subs - LeCointe, Sawyer, Ramday (not used - Walton).
Argyle lost 2-0 at Hartlepool. Argyle: Larrieu, N’Gala, Zubar, Nelson, Paterson, Bolasie, Peterlin, Fletcher, Bhasera, Fallon, Mason. Subs - Duguid, Patterson (not used – Button, Young, Timar, Walton). Attendance - 3,059.
International call-ups are likely to lead to Argyle's game against Southampton at Home Park on March 26th being postponed. Onismor Bhasera and Joe Mason have already been called up by Zimbabwe and the Republic of Ireland under-21s, respectively, for matches that weekend and Rory Fallon is expected to be on duty for New Zealand in two friendlies. There is also a possibility that Rory Patterson could be named in the Northern Ireland squad for their Euro 2012 qualifiers. An Argyle spokesman said: "It depends on international call-ups, if we have more than two, we can seek a postponement, but we've only had two at the moment. It will be down to Peter Reid to make the decision, although we haven't reached the criterion for postponing the game yet."
The race to buy Argyle is gathering pace, with two parties on the verge of tabling firm offers. A foreign-based British investor is reported to be close to putting in a formal offer for the club, and Devon-based millionaire businessman James Brent is also understood to be in the frame. But Keith Todd yesterday rejected claims in the media that he and Roy Gardner had already made an offer for the club. Todd has been in talks with a number of parties, but reports suggest he is not putting any money into the offer he has set up, with cash coming instead from a UK investor who is now based abroad. The mystery bidder, backed by a consortium of business associates, is understood to be a self-made millionaire who formerly worked in the City of London. A newly-established firm named Affinity Sports Finance is acting as agents in the deal, which would see the investor take control of Home Park. Affinity is headed by Terry Pritchard, a finance and mortgage guru who was involved in unsuccessful buyout talks when Portsmouth were in administration. It is unclear whether Todd would have a role at the club if the bid being handled by Affinity is successful. Todd has also been in discussions with George Synan and Yasuaki Kagami, though they are not thought to be part of a consortium making a bid. Todd yesterday described claims in the media that he and Gardner had made a formal bid as ‘completely inaccurate’.
Brendan Guilfoyle is expecting at least four firm bids for Argyle by Monday. He said: “There are three or four parties making strong noises. One of them came through very strongly in a conference call on Tuesday and we’re waiting for proof of funding now. We should be clear on Monday where we are and, hopefully, we will be announcing the preferred bidder on Tuesday or Wednesday.” Guilfoyle would not be drawn on potential buyers’ identities, but said Argyle still faced the prospect of going out of business if the pricey administration process was not funded by Thursday. He said: “I met someone who was very experienced in these transactions and was quite comfortable with everything we discussed. But what the fans need to understand is that, whilst we can have that little dance speculating about who is bidding, in the meantime we are almost dancing on the Titanic.” Keith Todd, believed to be in talks over a bid that has not yet been tabled, said yesterday he was ‘encouraging people who may be interested’ to invest in the club. But he denied any of those were linked to Mastpoint, a group of his associates that are owed around £2.3million by the club. Todd’s business partner and ex-chairman Roy Gardner insisted he had ‘no involvement’ in any talks over a bid for the club.
Kari Arnason is almost certain to be ruled out of the game at Hartlepool tomorrow by a hamstring injury. He started the match against Swindon Town but had to be substituted at half-time and was replaced by Karl Duguid, who is likely to continue to partner Carl Fletcher in the centre of midfield. Peter Reid said: "I put Duguid in there on Tuesday night, just trying to shore it up, and we did defend well. I have got a few things in my mind for tomorrow and I will make a decision nearer game time." Stephane Zubar and Onismor Bhasera both sat out training yesterday but Reid is cautiously optimistic both will be available against Hartlepool. Zubar has had a stomach upset, while Bhasera is not being pushed too hard as he has recently recovered from a knee injury. Reid said: "I think tomorrow's game will come a bit too quick for Arnason but we are hoping the other two will be fit." Chris Clark will be unavailable as he completes a three-match suspension. Argyle are staying in the north east after the game because they are away to Carlisle United on Tuesday. Arnason could be fit for that match and Clark's suspension will have been served. Marcel Seip is still sidelined by a knee injury and will not be travelling. Not all of squad will be staying after the game tomorrow, however. Romain Larrieu will return to Plymouth because his wife, Penny, is due to give birth to the couple's second child on Monday. Larrieu will fly north on Tuesday morning, at his own expense, for the visit to Brunton Park. Reid said: "His wife is expecting and he has got to take care of his family. Hopefully, it won't impinge on us too much, but he has got permission to look after his wife, no problem."
Argyle have kept alive their chances of escaping relegation by winning their last three matches, a feat last achieved in September 2008 and Peter Reid has described Carl Fletcher as being ‘inspirational’ in the victories over Colchester, Sheffield Wednesday and Swindon. The captain however, is now only one booking away from a two-match suspension after he received his ninth yellow card of the season against Swindon. Reid said: "He's an experienced player and an international footballer. He's aware of the situation. He knows what will happen if he oversteps the mark. Mind you, nowadays you can sneeze out there sometimes and get a yellow card. He has just got to concentrate on playing his game the way he has been, and what will be will be."
Hartlepool are 11th in League One, eleven points outside a play-off position but twelve clear of the drop zone, but Peter Reid knows they will play as if they are desperate for the points. He said "It will be difficult against Hartlepool because they are a good side, certainly at home. They play some decent football. When they came down here, I thought they had a good gameplan against us. The thing I like about them as a side is that they are hard-working and well organised. You never get an easy game against them."
Argyle continue their fight for survival when they play Hartlepool United tomorrow and the squad will remain in the north-east after the game and prepare for their visit to Carlisle United next Tuesday. Peter Reid insisted it was cost effective to stay in a four-star hotel in County Durham for the duration, rather than make two separate trips. He has also lined up the use of Sunderland's training facilities at the state-of-the-art Academy of Light for his players on Monday. The squad were set to travel to Newcastle today on a scheduled flight from Exeter. The cost has been met by The Green Taverners, a group of supporters who have recently staged two very successful fund-raising events. The players will then make the coach trip to their hotel, where they will be based for the next four nights. The team will travel to Carlisle next Tuesday and then face a long, gruelling overnight return trip to Plymouth by coach. Reid said: "The fans have come up with the money that gets us on the flight. The deal with the hotel means it's cheaper to stay there, rather than travel up and back twice. It's not only cheaper but it's better for the players, so it makes sense. It's not that we are wasting money, it's cost effective as well. I thought it was best to stay in one hotel, in terms of getting a better deal financially, and I don't like changing hotels anyway. It will mean it's a bit of a travel from our base to Carlisle but I think the lads are used to that, playing for Plymouth Argyle. We will be getting home late from Carlisle, but that's the way it is. At least the preparation for the game is excellent." Reid was grateful for the assistance he has received from one of his former clubs. He said: "I have been on to Steve Bruce and Niall Quinn at Sunderland and we have got the training facilities sorted out, which is a big help. But the most important thing I'm concentrating on is trying to get another result against Hartlepool, which is going to be difficult."
Peter Reid has had talks with administrator Brendan Guilfoyle this week about the state of the club. Reid said: "I have met him once. He seems an amiable chap. He has had experience of this situation before and just told me to get on with my job and if I needed anything we could have a chat." Reid has also been liaising with Peter Ridsdale, the new acting chairman and executive director, and welcomed the improved channels of communication, compared to when Argyle first issued their notice of intention to appoint an administrator last month. Reid added: "We were in a limbo situation then, but now there is some structure."
Yannick Bolasie is reaping the rewards of hard work on the training ground. The form of Bolasie has been one of the keys to the turnaround in Argyle’s fortunes on the pitch. Yet, prior to that, he had served a three-match suspension after he was sent off for an off-the-ball incident in the defeat at Yeovil Town. Bolasie admitted he had been out to make amends after returning from his suspension, and said: "I did something stupid but I have learned my lesson. I worked hard during the three weeks I was suspended, on my positioning on the pitch and on my fitness with Scotty. Sometimes I would do two sessions a day. I think that did me a lot of good, and I was also lucky to come straight back into the team after my suspension ended." Bolasie was recalled by Peter Reid for the visit of Colchester after completing his ban and his penalty secured an important win. Chris Clark would have taken the penalty had he not been sent off earlier in the second half and that led to Bolasie assuming the responsibility, but only after persuading Joe Mason to leave it to him. He said: "I used to take free-kicks and penalties before I came to Plymouth, but I didn't play much in my first two seasons here so that kind of faded out. I have got to be thankful to Joe Mason as well for letting me take the penalty. He could have taken it himself and got on the scoresheet. It was a good moment because I had come back from suspension and it won the game for us." Bolasie also scored in the win at Sheffield Wednesday, when he grabbed the fourth goal, a fierce, low 25-yard shot. He said: "I don't think it's the best goal I have ever scored, but it's definitely up there. I was just happy to get on the scoresheet really because the 'keeper made a good save from me in the first half." Bolasie admitted scoring such a stunning goal at Hillsborough, was a special moment for him. "It was emotional," he said. "We had a lot of support there as well and it did feel very good. I didn't know what to do when it went in so I just ended up doing a run, flip and jump." Argyle followed up their win against Wednesday with a victory over relegation rivals Swindon Town at Home Park on Tuesday and it was from a Bolasie cross that Rory Fallon scored the decisive goal. Bolasie said: "I remember Joe Mason sliding the ball into me in the box, and everyone was calling for it. I just decided to beat my man and put it in an area where I knew someone could score from, and it has ended up in the net." Argyle are now faced with back-to-back games at Hartlepool United and Carlisle United, a difficult task but Bolasie is not daunted by the prospect. He said: "It's going to be tough, but I'm looking forward to it. We are going to take it game by game. Hopefully, we can get a result tomorrow and then we will go again on Tuesday."
Argyle will host a memorabilia auction on March 24th to raise crucial funds which could help save the club. Donations of lots have been coming in from all over the football world, but most notably from Peter Reid, who has donated his FA Cup Final losers medal from 1986. Reid downplayed down his contribution, and praised the Argyle fans for their backing. He said: "It was the first Merseyside cup final. I was obviously born in the area. For my sins I supported Liverpool as a boy, but played for Everton and I just thought I might raise a few quid for the football club. We'll see on auction day. The club have been in contact with Premier League clubs and everyone has rallied around. They've been amazing. Considering the economic situation the general public are in. Fuel prices are up, money's tight out there. It's a double effort for everyone involved. It just shows what the club means."
Peter Reid is delighted with his teams’ recent form, with Tuesday's win over Swindon Town his favourite of the three recent victories. "Out of the three, the most pleasing one was the 1-0," he said. "I do think we looked solid and we defended well. I know I harp on about it, and I want to be entertaining, but sometimes a 1-0 result for a manager is great. I thought we defended doggedly, and you're always in the game then. It's great when you score four away from home and win 4-2, but that 1-0, as a coach, it breeds confidence for defenders, the goalkeeper and as a unit. That was the most pleasing result. We've got to keep it going." The winning run has coincided with a reorganisation in the backline. Romain Larrieu replaced David Button in goal, while Stephane Zubar's moved to centre half with Bondz N'Gala slotting in at right back. "Zubar has come in there and N'Gala's gone to right back and we've looked solid," said Reid. "But I think it's fair to say you defend as a team and the shutting down in the middle of the park - I think Fletch has been inspirational in leading us on that. Also Rory Fallon, in the last few games, his work rate has been up there in putting defenders under pressure. Even Bolasie and Mason, who are the skilful creative ones, are doing their bit on the defensive side, which you need. Any successful side needs that. I think when we had the run of defeats that we were unlucky in some of the games. I really felt for the players in some of the games where they didn't get out of them what the performance deserved. We're on a good roll at the moment, and I'm pleased with the way they give you everything. You can't ask for anything more. We'll have to be at our best to get a result at Hartlepool. Last week was a difficult week. Well, this week has been a difficult week. But the players have responded really well."
New faces have come to the negotiating table during Argyle buy-out talks in London, according to administrator Brendan Guilfoyle, who added that meetings had been ‘encouraging’. Their identities are unknown but Keith Todd was not among them, Guilfoyle said. However, the lead administrator added that all bids would be welcome ahead of his deadline on Monday. “There is no right purchaser for me,” he said. “It’s going to be the one who makes the most money available for creditors.” Supporters have made it clear they want fresh faces in the Home Park boardroom, a sentiment echoed by Peter Ridsdale. He said: “It’s not for me to me to determine and it’s not for me to point the finger about what’s happened historically, but everybody would benefit from a new start. The sooner the past is put behind this football club, the better.”
A charity connected to Argyle looks set to lose up to £330,000 it controversially loaned the club. It was revealed last month that the Charity Commission was probing the deal, which helped Argyle survive a High Court hearing. Now the regulator is stepping up its investigation into its legality and into what role Paul Stapleton played in providing the loan. The money came from the Plymouth Argyle Supporters Training and Development Trust, a charity set up to fund young footballers. Although it was secured as a mortgage on Home Park, Brendan Guilfoyle has admitted the future of the cash was now ‘uncertain at best’. As well as being on Argyle’s board at the time, Stapleton is a trustee of PAST&DT. He did not vote on the deal, but he addressed fellow trustees beforehand. They gave it the green light despite failing to inform members of their advisory committee, it is understood. The Charity Commission has now confirmed it has opened a ‘regulatory compliance’ case, a formal investigation into potential abuse, mismanagement and illegality. A spokeswoman said such inquiries were usually launched when the regulator has serious concerns about misconduct or mismanagement. She added: “Our investigation relates to the charity’s governance and financial management.” Neither Stapleton nor Trust chairman Jeff Ellis were available for comment, but they have strenuously defended the deal, saying they took expert legal advice. Peter Ridsdale yesterday distanced himself from involvement but said: “These people have only got one objective, it’s the survival of Argyle. I get surprised that, when people genuinely try to do the right things, there are some people out there who will try to trip them up.”
Peter Reid is auctioning off his 1986 FA Cup Final losers' medal in a bid to help keep Argyle afloat. Other memorabilia will be available at a fund-raising evening on March 24th, and fans are being asked to search for sporting relics that could raise vital cash. The plans were announced by Peter Ridsdale as part of a raft of urgent fundraising ideas, including the chance to buy tickets to all five remaining home matches for the price of just three. Other schemes include fans paying for a seat in the directors' box, boardroom or a place in the dugout alongside Reid. Ridsdale emphasised that any cash raised would be used to fund day-to-day running costs, not to pay debts or the pricey administration fees. "We want anybody who cares about the survival of Plymouth Argyle to put their hands in their pockets," he said. "This is an unashamed period where we are saying, 'We need your money; we need your help'."
Rory Fallon's fourth goal of the season decided a close game against Swindon Town on Tuesday, in front of nearly 9,000 fans at Home Park. Peter Reid said: "The support was outstanding again, and I was really pleased with the way the players went about it. We had to defend in the second half, but we were dogged. Swindon played well and knocked it about, but we hung in there and worked really hard. The clean sheet pleased me more than anything." Reid was pleased his side rewarded the fans who chose to turn up at Home Park. He said: "I thought it was a good, entertaining game and the atmosphere was brilliant. All credit to the supporters." Reid also took satisfaction from the performance of Stephane Zubar at centre-back. He added: "Stephane Zubar going to centre-half has made us more solid. He looks as though he has played there all season. His agent told me when we got him he was a right-back because I was after one. I think he might have been telling me fibs. I think centre-half is his best, more natural, position. So I'm glad the agent told fibs because at least we have got him. He's physically strong and holds people off. I think he enjoys defending." Reid revealed Kari Arnason started the game against Swindon despite suffering from a tight hamstring, but he had to be replaced by Karl Duguid at the start of the second half. Reid said: "He wanted to play, like Bhasera did after coming back from his knee injury. These players are putting it on the line for us." Rory Fallon has hit form at a key time and Reid said: "I thought he was terrific against Swindon. He led the line very well. When he plays like that he's a threat and we can get up the pitch. Defenders find it difficult to contain him, and it was a good finish by the way." Argyle have now got back-to-back away fixtures against Hartlepool United on Saturday and Carlisle United next Tuesday. Reid said: "I think the three victories have been a big boost for everyone. Now we have got to try to carry that on in two difficult away games, but we are in there and we are fighting."
Joe Mason has been called up to the Republic of Ireland under-21 squad for a friendly against Portugal on March 25th.
Brendan Guilfoyle has paid tribute to the Green Army following Tuesday night's victory over Swindon Town. "The support of the fans was magnificent," said Guilfoyle, who revealed that takings were nearly double that of the previous home game. "It might well be something that contributes to the successful sale of the football club."
Some of the figures responsible for Argyle's financial crisis are in talks over buying back the club, according to reports. Keith Todd is thought to be lining up a bid and has been in touch with Yasuaki Kagami and George Synan as part of a plan to buy Argyle out of administration. At least three other groups are on the verge of tabling firm offers, which must arrive at Home Park by midday on Monday. James Brent, the former Plymouth CDC chairman, who has been strongly linked with the club in recent days, would not comment on the speculation last night, but refused to rule himself out. Todd refused to comment last night when asked if he was putting together a bid but sources close to the club's former executive director say he is leading negotiations, also involving Roy Gardner, with a number of potential investors. Todd said: "My position hasn't changed at all, other than the fact that the administrator is in charge. The only thing that matters is getting funding into the club. I've been working in the background to encourage people to provide that in the best interests of the club." He would not say whether he was attempting to put a bid together, but added: "I am quite irrelevant in the whole process other than being partly responsible for it occurring." Brent, a North Devon-based investor and boss of Akkeron Hotels, would not comment on whether he was behind a bid as a ‘matter of policy’. But he did say: "We are associated with a number of deals and we're building a number of businesses. I am clearly conscious of what's happening at Plymouth Argyle and I'm very conscious of all the supporters in Devon and Cornwall." Property developer Paul Buttivant, from the South East, is also understood to be in ongoing discussions over purchasing the club. Meanwhile, Paul Stapleton has ruled himself out of a return to Argyle. "I've got no intention of bidding for it or being involved in a board," he said.
Peter Reid has paid tribute to the staff at Home Park who have lost their jobs as a result of the club going into administration. He said: "It's been a really difficult time, we've had redundancies including my PA Sue Vallins who's a smashing lady. That win was for her, the lads are really close and that was a result for her. It's been a hard couple of days because you're talking about people's livelihoods - good people and this club has had to do that. I'm not saying we didn't have to do it but the human cost doesn't bear thinking about."
Rory Fallon's early goal against Swindon Town last night lifted Argyle off the bottom of the table. Peter Reid acknowledged it was a big step in the right direction for the players psychologically, insisting the current run of three wins was long overdue. He said: "If we're still doing that on Saturday then I'll be even more pleased but that's going to be a really difficult one for us. But we go there on a roll, and hopefully we can keep this momentum going. I think we just about deserved this one today and out of the three games we have deserved to win them. Charlton away I thought we were unlucky, Yeovil away I thought we were unlucky and certainly Bournemouth here - I know we were unlucky. The other games I don't think we deserved anything, although the Tranmere game could've gone either way. Sometimes you've just got to have a belief, but when you keep getting beat it's hard. But the players have turned it around and all credit to them." The manager directed his final post-match comments to the Argyle fans. He said: "Considering Arsenal were playing Barcelona on the TV, I thought the crowd - the amount we got here and the atmosphere - were brilliant, so all credit to the supporters. They were outstanding again."
Argyle beat Swindon Town 1-0 at Home Park, the goal scored by Rory Fallon after 10 minutes. Argyle: Larrieu, N’Gala, Zubar, Nelson, Paterson, Bolasie, Arnason, Fletcher, Bhasera, Fallon, Mason. Subs - Duguid (not used – Button, Peterlin, Patterson, Young, Timar, Walton). Attendance - 8,830.
Peter Reid has praised the contribution of Rory Fallon to Argyle's back-to-back wins. He said: "I think Rory has been terrific for us in the last couple of games. He has won a lot of headers, but he has also been getting down the sides as well and holding it up. Rory has looked a really good player so we need to keep him going. He was a handful for Colchester and he was a handful for Wednesday. Hopefully, it will be the same against Swindon." Another player to stand out in the victories over Colchester and Sheffield Wednesday has been Yannick Bolasie. He showed some tremendous skill and speed at Hillsborough, but was also let down by his decision-making at times when in and around the penalty area, sometimes shooting when a cross would have been a better choice, and vice versa. "That's the way the lad plays," said Reid. "I think if you are defending against him you don't know what to expect. I just think you have got to go with the positives with Yala. After all, there is no complete player. Everyone has weaknesses. When he's in the final third of the pitch I want him to take people on, and try to get crosses in and try to get shots in. That's it. I want him to play to his strengths." Reid has no new injuries to contend with so is expected to stick with the same starting line-up. Argyle had only six substitutes at Hillsborough because Marcel Seip was ruled out by a knee injury and he will also be sidelined for the visit of Swindon. Reid said: "Marcel has got some wear and tear to his knee. He has seen a specialist and we are just easing him through things at the moment. I think he's going to be with the physio for the next few days." Reid was thrilled with the display against Wednesday but still spotted areas he wants his side to improve on. "There were a couple of things that, believe it or not, I wasn't happy with at Sheffield Wednesday but, all in all, I thought it was a great performance," he added. "One of the things I think we can improve on is that too many crosses went in our box. We got a little bit too deep early in the second half. I'm nit-picking there but, as a manager, it's always important to nail little things you haven't been happy with."
Joe Mason is hoping to continue his recent goalscoring form when Argyle take on Swindon Town tonight. He said: "It was a great result on Saturday. We needed it. We need to win every game now. But to win in the way we did at Hillsborough, which is a massive stadium, was brilliant. It was the first time I had played there and it was quite daunting. The fans get right behind them and they are really loud. But I enjoyed every minute of it and, hopefully, there are more experiences like that to come for me." Mason put Argyle 2-0 up on Saturday when he headed home from close range after a nod down from Rory Fallon. He said: "Rory did really well. Me and him have been working on that after training actually. He got up and won the ball and I just had the simple task of putting it past the 'keeper. I thought Rory had a very good game." Wednesday cut the deficit before Mason made it 3-1 in the 65th minute. A Kari Arnason long throw-in was flicked on by Stephane Zubar and Mason controlled the ball on his chest before firing an unstoppable shot into the net. "It was just instinct really," he said. "I had a few shouts from people to lay it back, but I wanted to hit it. Luckily enough it went in. That's definitely the best goal I have scored. Most of mine are little tap-ins. I don't think I have scored outside the box. It's nice to know I can get different goals. Hopefully, I can do a bit more of that." Argyle have picked up a maximum of six points from their last two matches, and will be desperate to maintain that momentum when they play Swindon. Mason said: "I think the teams above us would start to get a bit nervous if we were to win. I'm sure they will be looking over their shoulders after seeing our result at Hillsborough. If we can get another win tonight, then they will definitely start getting nervous." Mason admitted they also have the opportunity to avenge a 4-0 defeat by Swindon in a FA Cup tie in November. He added: "We were dreadful against them here so, hopefully, we can get a bit of revenge. It was an all-round terrible game for us, but we have just got to forget about that now." Mason turned down a transfer to Swindon in January but insisted that would not be on his mind this evening. He said: "It has got no effect on me at all. I haven't really thought about it, to be honest."
The realities of Argyle’s financial situation hit home yesterday. Staff left the stadium in tears after being told 15 workers and the city centre shop were being axed, with immediate effect. They were given the news by administrator Brendan Guilfoyle and new acting chairman and executive director Peter Ridsdale. Guilfoyle described the redundancies as regrettable, but added that there would be no more staff cuts for the foreseeable future. Although job losses had been feared for over two years, staff were reassured last Friday that there would be no imminent redundancies. However, Guilfoyle said accountants sifting through Argyle’s cashflow figures at the weekend discovered the financial crisis was deeper than first thought. Chief operating officer Tony Campbell and general manager Dan Thomas were among the casualties yesterday, while six retail workers lost their jobs with the sudden closure of the Drake Circus store. “We are down to the bare bones now,” Guilfoyle admitted. Workers were called into a meeting with administrators the P&A Partnership at 10.30am yesterday. Names were read out and the unlucky 15 were told their fates by Guilfoyle, while the remaining employees were sent for a separate meeting with Ridsdale. He was offered his roles – which he will receive payment for, depending on money arriving at Home Park – by Guilfoyle in Sheffield last Saturday. Financial trouble-shooter David Jones, who joined Argyle on a temporary basis in December last year, becomes chief finance officer. Ridsdale said: “To some extent, what I’m doing is handing over the role I was playing to the administrator. I have stepped back from the sale process, Brendan is responsible for the buyers, and my job is to make sure we can keep the club operating. I came here to make sure Argyle survived and are in the right hands, and I will be here until that is completed.” Guilfoyle said: “Peter has demonstrated to me that he’s got a role to play for the next few weeks. He’s energetic, committed, and I need someone to hold it all together.”
Back-to-back victories over Colchester United and Sheffield Wednesday have given Argyle a glimmer of hope in their fight against relegation and Peter Reid highlighted the need to keep winning matches. He said: "We can only get on with what we can affect and the players have certainly done that on the football pitch over the last two games but we need to do it again. Obviously we went to Brighton, and they're a good side at this level and it was difficult but I think the lads have responded really well and I think the catalyst for that was the Colchester game. Going to Hillsborough was always going to be hard, they'd had a couple of really good results - beat Carlisle, drew at Bournemouth - but I thought the way the players went about their job on Saturday was terrific. There's an added confidence and a steely determination about them. But it's important we keep that going. I remember the Bournemouth game here when I thought we played really well and attempts at goal was something ridiculous, about 20 odd it might have been, but we only put one in the back of the net. And putting it in the back of the net is the difference, it adds confidence. When you get your right back bending one in with his left foot from 20 yards after a good build up, it gives you a big boost. Joe Mason's come up with two terrific goals as well, and in games when you play well, that confidence you get from scoring goals is the difference between winning and losing."
Argyle's reserve team drew 0-0 with Forest Green Rovers in last night's Combination Wales and West Division fixture.
Bondz N'Gala says Argyle have set their sights on staging a ‘Great Escape’. After the win over Sheffield Wednesday he said: "The lads have stuck together well, despite what's going on at the club. Once we step across that white line everything else is forgotten about. All we want to do is try to win the game. Yes, it has been difficult on us, but there is a belief in the camp. I think we can go on and produce The Great Escape." Argyle officially entered administration on Friday and N'Gala admitted the players had been relieved by the removal of the uncertainty. He said: "It clears a cloud that was over us and I think now we can just get on with it, as we have done anyway. We will try to produce something good for the fans, and for ourselves." N'Gala revealed coach Adam Sadler deserved some of the credit for his goal. He said: "Sadds puts on a lot of good finishing sessions for everyone. He always emphasises you don't have to lash at the ball, just guide it in the net. And the training paid off really. It was a great feeling to get my first goal for Argyle. I have wanted to score for ages and, finally, I stuck one away." N'Gala's controlled shot was even more impressive because it was on his weaker left foot. He added: "We are professional footballers and we are always encouraged to use both feet. I'm glad it paid off this time." Joe Mason gave Argyle a 2-0 lead in the 31st minute when he scored from close range after Rory Fallon had set him up. N'Gala said: "Joe had a great game. That gave us a good cushion going into half-time. The gaffer told us we were playing well and to keep it going, and then we should win the game. Wednesday went quite attacking in the second half but I thought we dealt with it alright and did well to get two more goals." The first of those came in the 65th minute with a superb strike from Mason. N'Gala said: "It was a great goal. He took a lot of pressure off us when he scored it, everyone was buzzing. Joe is a very good goalscorer and I think he has got a bright future ahead of him. Yala produced a great goal. He has got that ability to go past players and score. I think there is definitely more to come from him this season." Wednesday did grab a second goal when Reda Johnson headed home from a corner, but there were no further alarms. N'Gala said: "We did well to see the game out. We defended crosses well and got the win."
Argyle fans are being asked to put their hands into their pockets to help ensure the survival of the club. Club administrators are urging fans and potential purchasers to help fund the club’s rescue with season ticket holders being asked to pay an additional voluntary £10 donation when they attend matches at Home Park. Fans can also pay £500 to be a director of Argyle for a day. Brendan Guilfoyle said: “Without external funding the club simply cannot carry on. I am urging all supporters to turn out for tomorrow’s key fixture against Swindon Town to support Peter Reid and the players after a magnificent performance at Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday. Let’s show potential purchasers what a well supported club Argyle is.” In the meantime, the administrators are seeking emergency funding from the Argyle Fans’ Trust, the Green Taverners and PASOTI and are asking all season ticket holders to pay a voluntary £10 admission fee when attending home games. In return, participants will be entered into a draw to win an afternoon in the dug out with Peter Reid at the club’s last home game of the season for themselves or a family member. The club will also offer a ‘be a director for a day’ package for a donation of £500 per game on a first come first served basis. The administrators have also requested that the club’s directors both renew and honour their promises to provide funding to the club to ensure its survival and will report their response. Brendan Guilfoyle said: “I do hope the directors will find it within themselves to fund the club in its moment of need.”
Onismor Bhasera has been named in the Zimbabwe squad for the African Cup of Nations game against Mali in Bamako on March 26th, the same day Argyle are due to face Southampton.
Argyle produced a stirring performance at Hillsborough on Saturday and the style in which the win was achieved was very pleasing for Peter Reid. He said: “We’ve had a bit of a traumatic time. We had six defeats on the trot not so long ago. I don’t like getting beaten, but these two victories have been welcome, and I think well deserved. I thought we always looked dangerous on Saturday. There were goals in us, and we got some good ones.” Yannick Bolasie had scored the winning goal against Colchester and got another at Hillsborough. Reid said: “He gives us pace, and Bhasera gives us pace as well, which we didn’t have in the side. Playing against pace is always difficult. It’s an out for us, and I’ve got to say Rory Fallon has been outstanding in the last couple of games. But that pace to get in behind defences gives you a threat.” Bolasie was booked for a foul in the 29th minute, and conceded further free-kicks as the game progressed, but Reid resisted the temptation to substitute him to save the winger from being dismissed. Reid said: “I told him at half-time to stay on his feet. You always worry about players mistiming things because the game is quick. Referees, with the assessors in the stands, are sometimes a bit quick with their decisions. But Yala handled himself well, and midway through the second half we decided to put him up front. We switched him and Joe around, which I think worked well.”
The Argyle youth team won 5-1 against Yeovil Town on Saturday, the goals scored by Jack Stephens, Isaac Vassell, Matt Rickard (2) and Jordan Copp. Argyle: Varazinskis, Stephens, Clifford, Hart, Bradley, Richards, Vassell, Copp, Rickard, Sims, Baker. Subs - Berry (not used - LeCointe, Harvey, Jones, Ord).
Administrator Brendan Guilfoyle is confident of finding a buyer for Argyle before the end of the season. His aim is to identify a preferred bidder by March 17th, and then offer them a period of exclusivity to complete a deal. In return, Guilfoyle would want funding provided to pay the wages of players and staff at Home Park. Guilfoyle has already held talks with three parties who have expressed a definite interest in becoming Argyle’s new owners. They were all lined up by Peter Ridsdale, who is set to remain at Home Park in a chief executive-type role in the short term, working alongside the administrator. Guilfoyle was asked when he thought Argyle would be sold and replied: “By the end of the season. In some respects it’s relatively straightforward. A lot of the work has been done by Ridsdale and Hinchliffe. They have identified the purchasers so I don’t think I have to go through marketing or produce an information memorandum. I have got the offer of assistance from Peter Ridsdale and from David Jones, the financial consultant at the club. The staff there are committed, with a lot of them being fans, so I think we can move along at a pace. I haven’t got a dominant creditor that could undermine the CVA. If you have got a creditor who is more than 25 per cent of the totality then you are in trouble, but I haven’t got that. It’s just a question of someone getting comfortable enough to say ‘OK, we will fund you now.’ What I normally do then is say ‘right, you’re funding me, I’m not talking to anybody else’. But there is a balance because I have to satisfy the Football League that the guy who I’m dealing with is giving the best outcome for creditors.” Guilfoyle has successfully found new owners for Leeds United, Luton Town and Crystal Palace out of administration. He admitted that Argyle going out of business would be his ‘worst nightmare’, but does not believe it will come to that. He said: “I think I have seen the guy who is likely to buy Plymouth Argyle. I have to sift out the ‘tyre kickers’ from those that are going to do it, and one way I do that is by checking what lawyers they are employing. The lawyers need to be competent and understand the process, because it’s quite complex. I have had a meeting with one of the potential buyers and he’s comfortable with the figures involved. He has done transactions before, not of football clubs, but out of administration. If I tell you any more, you will guess who he is. He just seems calm and collected.” Guilfoyle understands this potential buyer is operating on his own, rather than as part of a consortium. None of the three interested parties are far enough advanced in their talks to be prepared to provide funding to the administrator. Guilfoyle added: “That funding requirement is substantial. You are talking about something north of £2million and south of £3million to get to the end of the season. It’s wages predominantly. You have got players who haven’t been paid now for two months. The PFA will want me to take steps to make sure those players can be paid.”
Brendan Guilfoyle was giving details of Argyle’s potential buyers to officials at Plymouth City Council today. Guilfoyle admitted redevelopment opportunities around Home Park were of interest to some of the parties. He said: “I’m looking to get an indication of what the council are thinking. I will have a more frank discussion than I have had with you about who the potential purchasers are. I think the council are key to some of the proposals that I’m receiving. It’s not just the club, it’s developing the surrounding area. The council own a lot of land around there, and I’m being told they are saying they will back someone who might profit from that situation, as long as that profit heads towards the football club.”
Peter Ridsdale has played an important part in ensuring Argyle’s survival so far, according to Brendan Guilfoyle. He said: “Peter Ridsdale has, as it were, acted as an administrator. I watched him in a TV interview and he was very good. He spoke about what he was doing, and I thought ‘you are doing my job.’ Of course, the money he raised went to the Revenue to prevent them from taking precipitous action. What we all fear is liquidation. If the club goes into liquidation the contracts revert to the Football League. I think the club would go down four divisions, and we would have AFC Argyle. They would probably still play at Home Park because, as I understand it, there is a restrictive covenant on Home Park. Just like Croydon in my previous assignment at Crystal Palace, the council in Plymouth is absolutely adamant that football will be played at that stadium. But, of course, if it’s AFC Argyle they will only have limited ability to pay rent.”
Peter Reid has called on the Green Army to help his players continue their good form when Swindon Town visit Home Park tomorrow. He said: "They've been part of it. Even at Hillsborough, as everyone knows it's a hell of a journey for them, but the support was fantastic. I thought they were the catalyst in us changing against Colchester, got really behind the side when we had a man sent off and the atmosphere here at Home Park was terrific, we need that same atmosphere and hopefully we can come away with a good performance, and it's going to be hard, but hopefully win the game. We need to." Successive wins have kept Argyle in the survival hunt, in spite of the recent 10-point deduction. Reid added: "We've got to see it through and keep it going, it would be fantastic to get three victories on the trot but we need to play well. But I think the players will be up for it and hopefully the Argyle fans will come out in numbers and give us that support that we truly value. It's going to be hard but if the players go out there and get results. I don't like looking too far ahead, but if we can get a result against Swindon I'll be absolutely delighted. I know it's an old adage but we've got to take every game as it comes because we've got some really difficult fixtures towards the end of the season, but we can only go out there and give our best shot, and then you never know what might happen." Reid's message for anyone tempted to stay at home and watch Arsenal's visit to the Nou Camp was: "I think Barcelona will win this one. I think it will be a really great game here, the atmosphere will be terrific and we're looking to capitalise on a fantastic performance at Hillsborough. It's a massive game against Swindon, and I know the Argyle fans will be out in force because Argyle against Swindon is better than watching Barcelona and Arsenal on the telly, any day."
A day after Argyle were placed in the hands of administrators, the team romped to a 4-2 win at Sheffield Wednesday. "It's been trying time," admitted Peter Reid, "but that performance summed up what the lads are about. The players go over the white line. They are the ones who have to go out and perform, and they have done it well. Everyone knows what they have been through - their salaries not being paid, which always preys on your mind - but they have come through it. It's a great result for us. Credit to the players. We had six defeats on the trot not so long ago. Anyone who knows me knows I don't like getting beat and I think it is the worst run I have ever had. In certain games recently, I think we've been unfortunate, but we got what we deserved today. It was an excellent performance against a team that's had a couple of good results. It is a terrific result." Reid said that he had an inkling that a victory might be on the cards after the final training session of the difficult week. "They have been lively" he said. "When we did some team-play on Friday there was an edge about us, and the lads brought that into the game today. The quality of the play was good. In general terms, we got the ball down and passed it. I thought we always looked a threat. These two wins on the trot have been welcome and well deserved. We always looked dangerous and there were goals in us. We got some good goals." Bondz N’Gala’s goal, his first for the club, paved the way for the win. Reid said: "That left foot is not his greatest foot but the way he bent it in, it was a terrific finish and the 'keeper had no chance with it. It relaxed us and gave us the start we needed." The return of Yannick Bolasie after a three-match suspension, together with the re-appearance, after injury, of Onismor Bhasera has also benefited the team. Reid added: "Yala gives use pace and Bhasera gives us pace, which we didn't have. In the last couple of games, we have had that pace to get in behind and to threaten in behind, and playing against pace is always difficult. You can go through the team and you can put good performances on most of our players today, I have got to say that Rory Fallon has been a handful in the last couple of games. He's been outstanding. Wednesday kept coming at us, getting the ball wide and putting things into the box but, mainly, we dealt with that okay. You are always disappointed with the goals you concede, but sometimes you have got to give the opposition credit. My back four stayed strong - the two centre-backs were terrific, N'Gala, and Jim - but they got good protection in front as well. It's a good performance when you defend from the front as a team and we did that tremendously well. We were always dangerous on the break and managed to just stay in front. We deserved it on the day."
Peter Reid paid tribute to the Green Army after they cheered Argyle to victory at Sheffield Wednesday. He said: "There are a lot of people who have written the team off and the football club off but, with spirit like that...and I include fans in that because the turn-out today, with everything that has happened, was nothing short of miraculous. They deserve a lot of credit, and the players, with their performance, showed how much we value them. That was that for them. What has happened has been difficult - traumatic - for everybody involved in the football club. I think the club can now go forward. I hope so, anyway."
Joe Mason was the hero as he continued his goalscoring run with two in the win over Sheffield Wednesday yesterday. Mason said: "It's a great result for us, a tough place to come, and to do it in the style we did - it's just something else. Both teams created loads of chances, but happily we took ours in the end. There's a real spirit between us now in the changing room and that gets us through games, and the fans have been different class. They really do help." Mason admitted he endured a slow start to this season, but believes all the off-field negativity surrounding the club has unified the players and management. He added: "It's galvanised everyone, bringing everyone closer together and I think you can see that out on the pitch. I started off slowly but just after Christmas I started picking up form and I've been pretty happy with how things are going." Mason also paid tribute to Peter Reid as Argyle secured back-to-back wins. He said: "He's been quality for everyone. He's stepped it up a bit and really shown what he's about. He didn't want to pick anyone out, because at the end of the day it's a team performance. He didn't say too much, because we've still got a long way to go but he's obviously delighted with the result. That's the mentality we've got to have now after the 10 points we had knocked off, but we've got six of them back already and we've got to get as many as we can now. We've got to believe we can win every game. It's a massive game at home, Swindon are around the bottom so they're going to need the points as well. Keep winning games and we'll stay up."
The future is not orange for Joe Mason, it is white, at least according to Peter Reid. Mason scored twice against Sheffield Wednesday, once in the first half when he was wearing orange boots, and once in the second after he had changed into a white pair. "After he changed his boots from his orange ones to his white ones, he was a lot better," said Reid. "He carried the ball for us. First half, he gave the ball away a lot; when he put the white boots on, he was a different player in the second half. He handled the football, he kept possession, and his second goal was terrific. He's got an eye for getting that half a yard in the box and, once he gets that half a yard, he invariably hits the target. He's a young man who I think has got a decent future - he's got a chance - because, even in the first half, when I didn't think he played well, he got a goal; in the second half, when he did play well, he got another goal. The lad has got an eye for a goal."
Argyle won 4-2 at Sheffield Wednesday, the goals scored by Bondz N’Gala after 12 minutes, Joe Mason (31 & 65) and Yannick Bolasie (79). Argyle: Larrieu, Zubar, N’Gala, Nelson, Paterson, Bolasie, Arnason, Fletcher, Bhasera, Fallon, Mason. Subs not used – Button, Peterlin, Patterson, Duguid, Young, Timar. Attendance - 18,474.
Simon Walton has been cleared to resume playing after recovering from a cruciate knee ligament injury and is set to feature in the reserve team game against Forest Green Rovers on Monday. Peter Reid said: "It's good news about Simon Walton. He will most probably get a game in the reserves on Monday. Simon has been out with this injury so, hopefully, we can get him back. I had a word with him and asked if he fancied playing for the reserves on Monday. I told him not to get involved in any of the physical contact, but to just have a run around for 90 minutes. Depending on how he feels in the lead-up, he's quite happy to do that."
Peter Reid said he and his squad believe the news the club has entered administration will herald a new start for the club and added that the players had greeted yesterday's decision with a sense of relief and renewed optimism. He said: "Now that the decision to go into administration has been made, I think everyone, including myself, is relieved. Once I knew what was happening, I told the captain Carl Fletcher and the players myself. And like the professionals they are, the lads took it well. I don't suppose for one minute they were surprised, but just relieved that the speculation's over. Realistically, going into administration was inevitable once the club had shown its intention to do so last month." Reid's reaction was matched by Argyle's PFA players' representative, Romain Larrieu. He said: "I don't think any of us were surprised, just relieved that at last a decision had been made. We have read a lot of crazy things in the media lately, what way Argyle were likely to go. So, now that it's confirmed that we will work under an administrator, the suspense and the waiting is over and we can look to the future. In many ways, I wish the club had taken the decision to go into administration much earlier, as we might have been able to keep some of the players we had to sell in January. But on the bright side we've got 13 games left, including the game at Sheffield Wednesday, and although we had 10 points deducted, we're going to concentrate on doing as well as we can and try and pull out of danger. There is no pressure on us, as everyone seems to think we'll be relegated anyway."
Football League officials today urged possible investors in Argyle to come forward as soon as possible. It is thought it will take months for the administrators to sort out the financial situation at Home Park and a Football League spokesman said they would be working with administrator Brendan Guilfoyle to 'achieve a satisfactory outcome' for the club. The League spokesman added: "We will be helping the administrator as far as we can with the club's sale and there will be a regular line of communication between us. However, I would like to add that if there is anybody out there with the resources to invest in Plymouth Argyle, we would like to hear from them as soon as possible." The PFA, the players' union, also pledged to work with the administrators. A PFA spokesman said the club's descent into administration was 'disappointing' but added that the players had been positive about the situation. The spokesman said: "It is disappointing, but the club going into administration has always been a strong possibility. We had a meeting with the players last Thursday and spelled out what the possible scenarios could be. We will be in contact with the Football League and the administrators about what is happening. We've also used our benevolent fund to help the players get through this difficult period. It is unfortunate for the supporters, who always suffer when this situation happens at a club. The players, during our meeting last week, were very positive about what was going on. They were very supportive and say they want to stick together as a group and work together to help the club to progress."
Plymouth City Council will play a key part in shaping Argyle's future, according to administrator Brendan Guilfoyle. He will call on council chiefs to back anyone making a genuine bid for the club at a meeting in the city on Monday, a meeting set up with a view to ‘obtaining their assistance in securing the survival of the club’. Council leader Vivien Pengelly said last night: "We recognise the value of having a professional football club in the city and will work with stakeholders to try to help ensure its survival. We will stand by the protective covenants that exist over the ground to ensure it remains as a football venue. We will also keep the door open for appropriate dialogue with those appointed to oversee the administration process as it evolves."
Argyle today released the following statement: Brendan Guilfoyle, Christopher White and John Russell of The P&A Partnership have today been appointed administrators of Plymouth Argyle Football Company Ltd. A number of interested parties have declared an interest in acquiring the club. It is imperative that a preferred bidder is identified who can provide ongoing funding by March 17, 2011 at the latest. The administrators are due to meet with Plymouth City Council on Monday, March 7, 2011 with a view to obtaining their assistance in securing the survival of the club. Brendan Guilfoyle is holding a press conference on Saturday ahead of the club's away game against Sheffield Wednesday. Brendan Guilfoyle is a recognised expert in football finance. He has been joint administrator to Leeds United Plc, Luton Town Football Club Ltd and Crystal Palace F.C. (2000) Ltd. The P&A Partnership is a leading specialist business turnaround and insolvency firm with offices across the UK and in London. Their support for businesses includes restructuring, finance brokering, debt collection and selling assets.
Administrator Brendan Guilfoyle has taken control of Argyle with immediate effect and will be assisted by insolvency lawyer David Hinchcliffe. Guilfoyle said: "I'm pleased to say that this afternoon, I was appointed as joint administrator of Plymouth Argyle Football Club. Christopher White and John Russell are also administrators but, for practical purposes, I'm the lead administrator, dealing with the football matters. The powers of the directors have now been suspended as a consequence of my appointment and I am effectively running the club. My role is, in relatively short term, to find a potential purchaser who is able to fund the club in the short term, so it can continue to fulfil its fixtures and then, thereafter, to satisfy the Football League requirements in acquiring the club and transferring the share to a new company." However, Guilfoyle revealed that he is currently lacking sufficient funds to run the football club, a situation he hopes will be sorted in a short period of time. He said: "I have practical difficulties at the moment, I'm not currently funded so I'm prevailing upon the goodwill of staff and players to continue to work without pay. I am hoping to rectify that situation shortly in conjunction with a potential buyer. I am optimistic that we'll find a buyer. In previous clubs I've worked with, most recently Leeds United, Luton Town and Crystal Palace, we've always succeeded in find a buyer and I'm encouraged by the fact that we have three parties that are expressing a definite interest in acquiring Plymouth Argyle. Those have been garnered together by Peter Ridsdale and more recently, David Hinchcliffe, who together have been leading a proposed sale process. Unfortunately for the club, none of those parties are interested in buying the club shares, they want to buy the club from an administrator, thereby reducing the amount of money they have to make available to buy the club. So, in relatively short time, I hope to have given exclusivity to the most promising purchaser who in return will give me funding." Asked whether Peter Ridsdale would be offered a role, Guilfoyle said: "I don't know, I'm going to give favourable consideration to that. Peter is well known in football and I'm going to have a char with him tomorrow and on Saturday to see if we can sketch out some role for him. He's had a fairly torrid time in recent times, so I'm just giving him a bit of time to adjust to the current circumstances before I make any commitment to him."
Lawyers representing the Inland Revenue have told a High Court judge they expect Argyle to be in administration by the end of the day, voluntarily or otherwise. The club was set to attend a High Court meeting in Leeds on Monday where they may have asked for the appointment of an administrator. The Board is meeting today to decide whether to take that action. But in a pre-emptive strike HMRC today convened a hearing at the High Court asking for permission to submit a winding up order against Argyle, and told the court the club would be in administration by the end of the day. Gregory Mitchell QC, counsel for Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, told judge Mr Justice Peter Smith he was seeking the court's permission to bring a fresh winding-up petition against the club. Permission is required because the club has issued notice of its intention to go into administration. Mitchell said that the club is expected to go into administration today, either as a result of a board meeting held at midday or if, the directors vote against it, a third party owner of a floating charge calling in the administrators. He said that HMRC did not wish to prevent or interfere with the administration, and in fact ‘welcomed’ the club going down the same route to sort out its financial problems as Portsmouth FC by appointing administrators. He added: "We anticipate the appointment of administrators today." However, he said that HMRC wished to have permission to present a winding-up petition in order to protect its position in respect of any disposition of the company's property. The hearing resumes this afternoon, by which time the club may already have entered administration. The board meeting was set to be held at Home Park but has instead been moved to an undisclosed location. A number of protesters and members of the media were camped out at Home Park.
The future of Argyle is in fresh doubt, with the football club facing a mystery High Court hearing. Argyle’s directors were expected to enter administration this afternoon, but a behind-closed-doors hearing in London listed for 10.30am today, reportedly prompted panic in the Home Park boardroom last night. With none of Argyle’s UK-based directors aware of its nature, or who the action is being brought by, the club is sending a barrister. Directors fear bankruptcy action from a creditor, or even an internal injunction, as boardroom splits widen. The club’s ‘notice of intention’ to appoint their favoured administrator runs out on Monday. George Synan and Yasuaki Kagami want to extend it at Leeds County Court, but, if a judge looks unfavourably on Argyle’s finances, HMRC could appoint an administrator and force the club out of business. Paul Stapleton and Robert Dennerly are understood to be resolute in plumping for voluntary administration, with Tony Wrathall expected to follow suit, despite signalling his intent to remain at the club. The remaining board member, Keith Todd, held meetings with Roy Gardner in London yesterday. It is not known how Todd will vote, but a source close to the pair said last night the talks were aimed at securing emergency funds. It is thought Argyle would need more than £5 million to prove to a judge that they can continue to trade.
Peter Reid has appealed to the directors at Argyle to do whatever it takes to save the club. Reid has been reluctant to comment on Argyle’s financial plight over recent weeks but admitted he was frustrated by the power vacuum at Home Park. He said: "I briefly spoke to Peter Ridsdale on Wednesday, as well as a couple of the directors, but I know as much as you and I think that tells a story. When you are a manager you sometimes have to go to a figurehead to talk about ordinary club business, and at this moment in time there isn't anybody there. I understand the problems within the football club but surely the powers-that-be can get together and, hopefully, sort it out. It has got to be sooner rather than later because, as everyone knows, we are in a court of law on Monday. It's something that needs to be done very quickly." Reid did not know whether administration was the best option for Argyle or not. He said: "I don't care which way they go, but this football club has got to keep going. I think that's what everyone wants. There are cleverer men than me financially trying to sort this out. Whatever way it takes, it has got to be done." Reid admitted he felt sorry for local individuals and firms who had done work for Argyle and were now unlikely to receive full payment. He said: "Some of the debt is to local people I know, really good people, who work within the football club. When any company goes under the small creditors suffer, and it's their living. I always find that hard to understand. But, in the reality of the world, these things happen. I think there should be a change in law where everybody who is owed money, whatever happens, gets paid back over a period of time. People are going to lose money whichever scenario we go down. Hand on heart, I want someone to come in and take over the club, take over the debts, pay people, get the club on a sound financial footing and, hopefully, get their investment back by running it like a business over a number of years. That's the logical way, but is there anybody out there who is going to do that?"
Peter Reid and his players are firmly focused on one objective, beating Sheffield Wednesday tomorrow. Reid admitted morale among the players had been boosted by the victory over Colchester, and said: "I have been in football a long time and I haven't had a losing streak like it. It was getting to me, I must admit, because losing is something I don't like. So to win that football match was a huge relief and a fantastic boost. Now, and I have said this before, we have just got to try to build on it. That's the biggest thing. The sun has been shining, the training has gone well and the players are upbeat. Now we have got to see it through to the game against Sheffield Wednesday, which will be hard. They are big and strong, and they are what I call one of the big clubs in our league. It will be a difficult game but it's always a pleasure going to places like Hillsborough." Sheffield Wednesday had been struggling for results until recently, but they followed up a draw at Bournemouth with a 1-0 win at Carlisle United last Saturday. Reid said: "They are big and strong. I think about six or seven of their players are over 6ft. They got a goal off a corner last week, so we will have to be alert defending every dead-ball situation. I think it will be a quick, physical game and we need to be up for it in terms of competing against them. Then, hopefully, we can get it down and play some football." One threat to Argyle at set pieces will be Reda Johnson, who left Argyle in January. Reid said: "We know Reda is a handful. He got important goals for us. We are aware they are particularly strong at dead-ball situations and we have got to defend them." Sheffield Wednesday manager Gary Megson and Reid were team-mates at Manchester City in the early 1990’s and Reid later became the player-manager, with Megson one of those under his command. "I was 30-odd when I went to Manchester City and I think he's a little bit younger than me," said Reid. "We played in the centre of midfield for numerous games and, I have got to say, we did quite well together. I think we were more the aggressive style of midfield players. I'm not sure how we would get on these days! I can remember playing in Manchester derbies in the centre of midfield with Gary and it went well. He's an experienced manager who has done it at the highest level. He's now at the football club his father used to play for, and he used to play for, and I think he sees it as his spiritual home." Argyle will be without Chris Clark tomorrow as he starts a three-match suspension but Jim Paterson, who suffered a knee injury against Colchester, took part in training yesterday and is fit for selection.
The Argyle boardroom is reported to be in chaos as directors prepare to decide whether to quit Home Park or risk the club's future in court. Two rival multi-millionaires are said to be ready to buy the club if it goes into administration, but the Japan-based directors want to put Argyle's fate in a judge's hands with a last-ditch rescue plan, which was last night rubbished by the figure at its heart. Argyle are £13million in debt, facing bankruptcy action from creditors and unable to pay their staff or players. Their 'notice of intention' to appoint hand-picked administrators runs out on Monday and can only be extended by Leeds County Court. Without a multi-million-pound cash injection, the judge may agree to a 'creditor-driven' administration that could put Argyle out of business. But George Synan said yesterday he had a plan with ‘enough meat’ to steer Argyle through the hearing. He said a Japanese tycoon, fronted by former Goldman Sachs banker Koichiro Abe, was poised to pump £1.5million into the club. That would see both men join Argyle's board, he said, with a deal in the pipeline for part of Keith Todd and Roy Gardner's equity. Synan's business partner and Argyle's largest shareholder, Yasuaki Kagami, had sent £350,000 after selling property assets, he said, and Argyle could sell Home Park on a lease-back basis for a further £2million. "This is better than going down the path of administration," Synan said. "I'll be on the ground Friday with the plan. It's time to put the money on the table and get through this step." But Koichiro Abe, who has been spotted at Home Park several times and has already loaned the club a sizeable sum, said last night no shareholding or loan deal was on the table. He said he and his associates were eyeing Argyle with a view to either buying in to the club or loaning more cash, but said talks had not even begun. He said he had not yet been shown cashflow figures by Synan. Paul Stapleton had not heard about Synan's plan until contacted yesterday and Todd declined to comment, but is due to meet Synan in London tonight. The £350,000 promised by Synan is understood to be in a solicitors account in London and has not yet arrived at Home Park. He said £150,000 would be ‘drip-fed’ into the club yesterday. Meanwhile, Peter Ridsdale, now working alone in his quest to find new owners, has said that two businessmen were waiting in the wings should directors vote for administration. Both a Devon-based figure and a party from the South East are willing to pay the pricey administration costs to get the club at a knock-down price, with shrunken debts, he said. Ridsdale, who has close links with administrator Brendan Guilfoyle, will present the options to directors at tomorrow's meeting. Ahead of a directors' vote, lawyers will advise club chiefs on how to lawfully proceed.
Chris Clark is still coming to terms with the disappointment of being sent off against Colchester and picking up a three-match suspension. He said: "I just can't believe it. I don't like missing out on games at any time. It's hard enough not being involved when you are fit, but it's even worse when it's like this. The next couple of weeks are going to be very long. I will be training knowing there isn't going to be a game for me to play in." Clark was sent off for accidentally catching Ian Henderson with a raised boot, but the referee deemed it as serious foul play. Clark admitted he deserved a yellow card, but was dismayed to be sent off. He said: "I remember the ball bounced in between their player and me. I know I went too high with my foot, but I couldn't have got there first with my head. I tried to touch it on past him and back to Jim Paterson. I was committed to going for the ball and caught him. I don't know where because he seemed okay afterwards. I haven't actually seen it again on TV, but everyone I have spoken to thinks it was totally accidental, which it was. "I have just got to the ball as quickly as I could. I just couldn't believe the referee brought out the red card so quickly. I think it definitely was a yellow card. I know I went too high with my foot. But it was the only way I could get to the ball first, and I'm gutted I have got to miss three games. I wasn't sure at the time how long I would be out for, and I can't believe it's three games." Argyle went on to beat Colchester with a penalty from Yannick Bolasie. Clark added: "It was a really good game from the kick-off and I was enjoying it. It was so frustrating to be sent off, and I made it difficult for my team-mates, so it was good to see them go on and get the three points. It was great for everyone. We wanted to give the fans a performance and get a result for them, as well as for ourselves. I think we thoroughly deserved the win. Even their goal was an own goal, which is the way things have been going recently. The support was brilliant on Saturday. We could really sense when we were warming up the fans were right behind us. It was a good day. Hopefully, the lads will take confidence from the game on Saturday and bring it into the next one. We need to put a run of results together, so it was great to get a win against Colchester."
Peter Ridsdale is no longer working with the Argyle board in his quest to bring new owners to the club, it was reported today. Ridsdale said last night: “I’ll try to find a buyer for the club but the directors can start taking responsibility.”
Argyle's rearranged game at Leyton Orient will now be played on Tuesday, April 5th at 7.45pm.
Romain Larrieu has criticised the lack of communication from the Home Park boardroom. The Argyle squad were at Home Park last Monday at the same time as the directors were meeting to decide to issue a notice of intention to appoint an administrator, but Larrieu revealed the first the players heard about it was later that afternoon, on the coach to their game at Brighton and Hove Albion. He said: "We found out on the bus going up there watching Sky Sports News. The players weren't happy. We were hoping that we would actually learn it from someone at the club. But, no, we learned it from Sky Sports News, or someone's agent rang. That didn't make us feel nice. Everybody was there at the stadium on the Monday morning.We were there until one o'clock and they should have come in and told us. It doesn't make you feel good when communication is that bad." Larrieu was more complimentary about the support of the fans who attended the win over Colchester United on Saturday. He said: "They appreciated the effort. It doesn't take much. I think I know this crowd now. We earned the right to play by putting them under pressure and we were in their faces. That's what this crowd like, and most crowds in the country like. We were winning the ball high enough up the pitch to actually show we can play. Everybody in the league knows we can play, but maybe we haven't played in the areas we should have. But, on Saturday, we did our football at the right end and we looked a handful."
Argyle decided not to appeal against the sending-off of Chris Clark in the victory over Colchester despite believing he should only have been booked. Peter Reid had sympathy for Clark, and said: "I don't think Chris is like that at all. I know it wasn't intentional. I don't think he was aware the lad was there. But my experience of appeals is that doesn't come into the equation. They will just see it as serious foul play. Clark is a steady-eddie. He's a quiet lad on and off the pitch and just gets on with his job. I thought he was a little bit unfortunate to be sent-off. He's someone we are going to miss."
Unpaid staff at Argyle have issued a statement expressing their concern and disappointment at the club’s perilous position. The statement reads: “The staff believe that the current board and potential new owners should recognise that it is through goodwill and professionalism of the staff that the club continues to function on a day-to-day basis, as well as on match-day. All staff are prepared to go the extra mile to play their part in the survival of a football club which they are have in their hearts and are proud to represent. They are doing this despite the fact that: i) they are not being paid, a situation which is particularly hard on the many sole breadwinners. ii) their jobs are in greater jeopardy than ever before, especially following the 10-point deduction penalty. The strain and pressure that the uncertainty about the future and the inability to meet individual financial commitments breeds is both unhealthy and unacceptable. The staff have been disappointed to witness recent public messages from various members of the Argyle Board which apparently conflict, not only with each other, but with what they have been told by Independent Advisor Peter Ridsdale. The staff support a swift resolution to the financial problems for the benefit of Plymouth Argyle Football Club and therefore urge all parties to work together assiduously to bring about a speedy conclusion to the current situation.”
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