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.
Argyle have accepted a bid from Bristol City for Yannick Bolasie. Peter Ridsdale said: "We have had a bid for Yannick Bolasie from Bristol City which we have accepted. They have been given permission to talk to him." Ridsdale would not disclose any details of the offer.
Peter Ridsdale hopes to make an announcement about the club's new kit supplier next week. He said: "We have got a preferred kit supplier who are, in my view, top dollar. I hope to make an announcement next week." Ridsdale is also working on securing a new shirt sponsorship contract. He said: "I have had a proposal from two companies but haven't accepted anything yet. It's about getting the best deal for the football club and I'm fairly laid back about it. You can put a sponsor's name on your shirts any time up until the first game of the season." Ridsdale also confirmed that non-playing staff had now been paid, in full, their wages for May following the arrival of some of the promised cash from Argyle's preferred bidders, a mystery Irish consortium. The players, however, have not been paid since December and the wait goes on for them. Ridsdale added: "We are trying to see how much money we have got for June to decide what the situation is."
Truro City owner Kevin Heaney has held talks with the consortium closing in on a deal for Argyle, according to newspaper reports, but insists he is not part of the mystery Irish group. Heaney said: "We were asked for development advice and whether we would be interested in the development potential. I think they were courting everyone, looking at bringing in a development partner. We put our hat in the ring but what I understand is they've now got their own preferred national developer." Heaney said he did not know who was behind the deal, but refused to rule out a future role for himself. "I never say never," he added. "If there's an opportunity to develop around the stadium we would love to be involved and love to help. I'm very happy at Truro – but anything I can do to help with advice to Plymouth Argyle I am willing to do. They are dear friends to us and I've got a great affiliation with them."
Argyle ran up 'hidden' debts of over £1million on World Cup bid-related development plans, according to Paul Stapleton. He said Argyle's balance sheet was in the black two months before Keith Todd took over day-to-day running of the club, despite posting losses of £2.8million in the year up to May 2009. Argyle were relegated from the Championship the following April, crowds dwindling and the annual wage bill at around £8.5million. Stapleton said: "When the new people came in relegation wasn't on the agenda, but if it did happen there was meant to be enough wherewithal to rescue the situation. As board members, we all understood that we were struggling for finances; you don't have to be an accountant to recognise that. We were running short of cash." Boardroom decisions over managerial matters and contracts often saw the local directors outvoted 4-3, he said. Asked why he didn't resign, Stapleton answered: "Do you resign every time a decision goes against you, or do you think to yourself 'you've got loans in the club, you've got guarantees to the banks, you've got shares in the club', 'I'm better trying to influence things from within'?" The club announced in March 2010 it was issuing 90,000 shares in a bid to find £2million. But it raised just £19,000, Stapleton said, and cost nearer £140,000 to facilitate. The club also announced plans to transfer ownership of the stadium to a new company, Home Park Properties Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Argyle's holding company, in a controversial £7.5million deal. Todd was originally HPPL's sole director, but Tony Wrathall later joined because his name was on the ground's mortgage, Stapleton added, while he added himself to the board at the request of other directors. The transfer was almost complete in October last year, but a winding-up order from the tax man over unpaid VAT and PAYE, and the subsequent freezing of Argyle's bank account, put it on hold. The scale of Argyle's crisis slowly began to emerge and that month Stapleton received a phone call from Peter Ridsdale. He told him he was in talks with American investors keen on buying into a football club and met with Stapleton, Synan and Todd, spending two weeks studying Argyle's finances. Stapleton said he then learned that HPPL had around £1.2million of debt, largely to development firms and consultants who had worked on the plans for a World Cup stadium and surrounding development. Despite regularly quizzing Todd on the company's status, Stapleton insists he had believed HPPL to be dormant. "I'd never been told HPPL had any contracts or any trading," he maintains. But stadium designers Populous, engineers Ramboll, and consultants and surveyors such as Montagu Evans, Kelly Taylor, PMP and Monaghans are all understood to have billed HPPL. Rose Project Services, who were behind the development plans, and Inscapes also had contracts with HPPL, Stapleton said. Inscapes installed a £500,000 pitch as part of plans to host concerts at Home Park. But Stapleton said he was told AEG were to pay for the pitch as part of a deal that would see the firm run the stadium and its concerts. Stapleton said he and Wrathall both resigned from HPPL in December, after its debts were unearthed. Money owed by HPPL was handled alongside Argyle's during administration as part of a deal struck between administrators and Todd and Gardner's Mastpoint company. Over a dozen associates of the pair had lent to the club, through both a £1.4million mortgage and other loans to cover wage bills. In an extraordinary arrangement, Stapleton revealed, those loans could be turned into equity if the Argyle failed to make repayments, or meet interest at at least five per cent. That meant, although the clause was never activated, the investors would gain shares in the club if it was unable to pay. At a board meeting in November, Todd told his fellow directors that the club's long-term funding position looked 'encouraging', despite growing concerns over cashflow. The following month England lost its bid for the World Cup and Argyle's development plans were thrown into jeopardy. "All the time we were working together to find a solution," Stapleton said. "We still thought we could save this club." A promise of £2million investment from the Japanese directors was also failing to materialise and Ridsdale threatened to walk away from Home Park following disputes with Todd. Stapleton emailed his boardroom colleagues on December 23rd asking for their permission to remove Todd from his executive director role, and got the go-ahead from the directors. "Roy was upset that I didn't call a full board meeting," Stapleton said. "But that was a shocking thing to do in business terms. I was disappointed that someone with his CV and business acumen just left us. It meant that I had to step up as acting chairman and try to save the club."
Former Argyle chief executive Michael Dunford has taken on the role of chairman of Romain Larrieu's testimonial committee. A series of events are set to take place, with the focal point being a game against Queens Park Rangers on July 20th. Dunford said: "I was delighted to be asked by Romain to be the chairman of his testimonial committee. I have a deep affection for the club and not only is Romain a very good goalkeeper but as a person he ranks as one of the best I have had to deal with in my career in football. Hopefully, the Plymouth public will respond and show their appreciation for what he has done for the club and for the city over the last 10 years." More details about Larrieu's testimonial season will be announced next week.
Peter Ridsdale hopes he has reassured club staff, supporters and the city business community about the plans to save Argyle, after he held a series of meetings yesterday, hours after it emerged he could take control of the club as part of a buy-out by a mystery Irish consortium. Ridsdale started the day by speaking to the Plymouth Chamber of Commerce and then travelled to Home Park to hold talks with the club's staff, before sitting down with representatives of various supporters' groups. That was followed by attending the monthly meeting of the Senior Greens. Ridsdale said: "The feedback has been positive. I think people understand the situation, and I think they hope this means the football club will be more secure. There is still some question as to who the property people are, but I would like to think people feel more reassured and realise the whole of my focus is on the football club." Ridsdale met a legal representative of the consortium for talks in London on Tuesday, and insists he still does not know the identity of the people behind it. He suggested the structure which would see him become Argyle owner, and the consortium concentrate on property development on land surrounding Home Park. Ridsdale said: "I did that because this football club needs football people to sort it out. What I didn't expect was that it would be agreed and announced so quickly. I'm still in shock that we have got to this stage so soon, but the more I think about it, and the more I explain it, it gives the football club far more options to get a solution that is workable, than if I hadn't proposed it. The amount of money being offered to the administrators is less than we need in an ideal world to get it all sorted out. My job is to make the two numbers match up. I have got a big job on my hands." Ridsdale insisted he did not know whether Kevin Heaney was involved with the consortium in any way, as has been speculated.
Peter Reid hopes the revelation that Peter Ridsdale is in line to become the new owner of Argyle will lead to a speedy resolution over the future of the club. He said: "Since Peter has come to the football club I have had no problem working with him. From my point of view, the sooner I can get down to planning for next season and signing players the better. I'm sure everyone connected with the football club would concur with that."
Paul Stapleton has spoken about the boardroom tensions and financial mistakes which led Argyle to administration. He said: "My biggest regret was being introduced to Keith Todd. In two years, everything we built up over the previous years crashed so devastatingly. What's the single biggest thing that went wrong? In my view it has to be the way the club was run. It has to be Keith Todd." In 2008 Yasuaki Kagami arrived at Home Park eyeing potential commercial opportunities in the Far East and USA. Stapleton said the Japanese directors claimed to have £3million to pump into the club and immediately began pushing the board to splash out on pricier players. "We pushed the budget out by about £1million for that year," Stapleton said. "Then in December 2008 the majority of the board put some money in the bank. No money came from Japan." At a board meeting that month, George Synan said Kagami was 'personally embarrassed' for the delay in funding, pointing to the troubled Japanese economy. Stapleton admitted: "There were cracks showing there. We were thinking are they going to put in the money that they promised?" Meanwhile, with Argyle struggling, the board voted unanimously in March 2009 to sack Paul Sturrock. They even spoke to potential successors Ian Dowie and Gus Poyet before realising they had too little cash. Stapleton, who described the failure to sack Sturrock as a 'watershed moment', was by then in talks with Todd, an associate of Roy Gardner. Kagami was hoping to up his stake to 51 per cent at the time, while Phill Gill was hoping to quit the boardroom, Stapleton said. Todd flew to Japan in May and, the following month, Kagami bought Gill's 18 per cent, paying around £600,000 and bringing American Synan in as a director. In July 2009, Todd and Gardner acquired 13 per cent of the club by buying equal numbers of shares from the local trio, who kept 49 per cent. The move gave the new investors a controlling 51 per cent stake and led to Stapleton stepping down to vice-chairman to make way for Gardner, while Todd took over day-to-day-running of the club as its executive director in place of Michael Dunford. Stapleton said: "It wasn't a case of 'it's up for sale', it evolved. We realised that we couldn't take the club any further – and indeed the fans had. To pass the baton on to people with some of the best CVs you could get...we thought we couldn't have picked safer hands. But we wanted to stay involved. The dream was: 'We're the boys to take the team to the Premiership'. We could be part of it and we thought we had the right people to make it happen. We thought Roy was our knight in shining armour." Stapleton said a further £400,000 promised by Kagami failed to arrive in July 2009. At a board meeting, he showed his fellow directors a letter inviting them to apply for host city status as part of England's 2018 World Cup bid. Plymouth signed up and Todd began working on plans for a huge and controversial development around a new 43,000-plus stadium. Stapleton believes, had England landed the tournament, that the development would have been given the green light. But he said: "I think the World Cup overtook, I don't think it was their reason to come in in the first place but I think the development became a big distraction and over-rode everything they were doing. They thought there might be a big development opportunity, doors unlocked. I think it made those running the club perhaps spend more money than they might otherwise have done if they had to be totally prudent." Todd had obtained a mandate from the Japanese directors as part of the original deal, Stapleton said, meaning boardroom votes were often split 4-3 against the local directors. Stapleton brought a new resolution to sack Sturrock that month, but it was blocked. The club, having started the new Championship season poorly, eventually brought in Paul Mariner as head coach in October 2009, a decision Stapleton said he was against financially. He said: "By that time I'd not lost interest... but lost the actual influence, or the ability to influence was diminished. When you've been chairman, been controlling, and then your say doesn't make a difference...I felt like my skills weren't being used. It just wasn't a feeling of unity. The local directors felt like spare parts." Stapleton has been widely criticised for failing to spot the severity of Argyle's financial plight but said: "Internally, we felt there was this cutting off of information. It seemed to me that everything was filtered through Keith Todd. There wasn't the openness that we'd had before. Roy Gardner seemed quite happy to let Keith Todd run it. He'd be the figurehead for board meetings, but quite often the board meetings would be by telephone. It was just a frustrating period. We could see that the club was going to end up going down and losing money but we couldn't do anything about it."
Peter Ridsdale is in line to become Argyle's new owner in a move that would give a mystery Irish consortium control of Home Park. The secretive group are closing in on a deal to rescue the club from administration and are keen to develop on both club and council-owned land surrounding Home Park. The group, believed to be headed by a Dublin-based multi-millionaire, are poised to buy the ground and its surrounding land, but as part of the proposed deal, which will cost an estimated £6million, they plan to hand control of the football club to Ridsdale. He held lengthy talks with their representatives on Tuesday and suggested the ownership structure amid concerns the investors had little experience in the football industry. Ridsdale and administrator Brendan Guilfoyle both confirmed the news in statements last night. Ridsdale said: "I didn't come here to own a football club, I came here to do a job, to save the football club. This is not a transaction that I sought or contemplated but if it is the only route to guarantee a future for Plymouth Argyle Football Club it is a route that I am prepared to take. There is still much work to be done to even make this structure work and I will be spending all my time and energy to ensure a successful outcome." Reports suggest the consortium plans to form three companies. They will buy the club, then immediately sell it to Ridsdale for a nominal fee, likely to be £1. The investors are to agree a set figure to spend on clearing debts, including over £3million in outstanding wages, to exit administration and to cover running costs through next season. As part of the deal with Ridsdale, the consortium will have a legally-binding option to buy the club back for a fixed price after 12 months. The investors would form a separate company to take ownership of Home Park on a 25-year lease, with the potential of up to three years being rent-free for the club. A third company would own the surrounding land and be used to facilitate large-scale development plans. The consortium is understood to be working with Rose Project Services on its plans for Central Park, the same firm that drew up designs for the club under Keith Todd. The consortium has insisted on a confidentiality agreement and both Ridsdale and Guilfoyle insist they remain in the dark as to the identities of the group. Guilfoyle said: "The consortium agreed to lift a confidentiality agreement so that we could go to the Football League with details. The veil of secrecy has been partially lifted but I am still seeking identification of the investors. I've been pushing for transparency because the situation has brought about lots of speculation. I have had a six-figure payment from them but I am still chasing the money for the transaction. We are still aiming for mid-June for the sale to be completed." Guilfoyle said Ridsdale had passed the Football League's 'fit and proper person' test for club directors, but admitted the governing body was 'naturally concerned' about his looming fraud hearing. Ridsdale will face three criminal charges in July relating to a season ticket sales scheme run when he was Cardiff City chairman. "I didn't expect Peter Ridsdale, I only found out earlier this week, but I can see the logic of it," Guilfoyle added. "He has embraced this challenge and he's got the energy and the capability for the job. He has been asked by the Irish property developers to take ownership of the club and I believe he is being funded by the Irish property investors. Long-term, the club will in some way derive income from the development, which will mean that the club will become sustainable." Ridsdale is due to the Argyle Fans' Trust and the Green Taverners this afternoon. Acting Trust chairman Chris Webb said: "Our initial reaction is one of surprise. We have got concerns around the way things have been done. Peter Ridsdale is on the record as saying the supporters are the lifeblood of any football club and also that for too long at Plymouth Argyle everything but football was given priority. We are hoping he will stay true to his word, put football first and let Peter Reid build a squad that can be successful." Speculation is sure to mount as to the possible involvement of Truro City owner and chairman Kevin Heaney, who was linked with a takeover of Argyle in March. Heaney denied being involved in a bid for the club, but newspaper reports suggest he has links to a newly-formed company named PAFC 2011 Limited. The company, which Companies House records show was incorporated on March 14th, shares an address with Truro City and listed Julia Sincock as its sole director. Sincock has worked for Heaney and began a relationship with him in 2006. Her directorship of PAFC 2011 ended on March 18th, records show, and the company's address is now named as the same address as former Argyle chairman Paul Stapleton's accountancy firm Parkhurst Hill. Stapleton said he had no knowledge of the company but added: "Having worked very closely with him trying to save the football club, I think Peter Ridsdale's involvement is good news for Argyle." Ridsdale denied he had planned to own the club, or was looking to make money from the deal. "The transfer of the share will not happen unless we have someone who understands how to run a football club," he said. "I don't intend on being a long-term owner. This isn't me trying to make any money, they is me trying to save this football club and, probably, selling it back to the investors. It is a risk but it's worth taking to finish the job I came here to do, which was to make sure Plymouth Argyle survived."
Argyle's hopes of re-signing Stephane Zubar are being hampered by the wait to unveil the club's new owners. Rival clubs are already showing an interest in Zubar with reports suggesting that Preston North End are among them. Peter Reid is keen to keep Zubar and build a new team around him next season, but admitted he was frustrated he could not push on with his attempts to re-sign the defender. "I know that he's quite happy playing for me but, like everything else, we are in limbo at the moment," he said. "All I can say is that we have offered him terms and the lad is contemplating it." Zubar is the only one of Argyle's 13 out-of-contract players to have been offered new terms by Reid. But, the manager has not ruled out trying to re-sign some of the others at a later date. He said: "If they haven't got fixed up we are still able to offer them something, which I might do. But I don't know what budget we are going to have so everything is up in the air." There continues to be speculation about the future of Curtis Nelson and Joe Mason, but Reid added: "I haven't had any phone calls about those two players."
Peter Reid has confirmed there are no plans for Argyle to go on a pre-season tour in July.
Charlton Athletic are reported to be ready to make a move for Yannick Bolasie.
Luke Young is the only one of Argyle's second-year apprentices who has been offered a professional contract by the club. Matt Rickard, Raivo Varazinskis, Connor Clifford, Sam Sawyer, Jake Baker and Lewis Coombes have all been released. Ben Clarvis will continue as an apprentice for a further six months after injuries sidelined him for much of this season.
The Football League are to push for information on Argyle's secretive potential new owners. Administrator Brendan Guilfoyle is set to meet officials from the League in Preston tomorrow and Football League chairman Greg Clarke said: "We have to identify and approve new owners as part of the process of club acquisition." Clarke will not be attending the meeting with Guilfoyle tomorrow, leaving that instead to Football League colleagues. He said: "We have a team who are in constant touch with clubs in administration to ensure solutions that emerge work for all parties. I will be informed and briefed when we reach that point. Obviously, we prefer clubs not to go into administration, but if they do a solution that protects the club, its creditors and other stakeholders is our priority. However, the administrator drives the process and timing is often a function of the interest shown by potential buyers." Guilfoyle has given regular updates to the Football League since he became Argyle's administrator, and he said: "They want an update on where the sale is, and where we are going. I think things are coming to a head now. I imagine they are anticipating a request to transfer the golden share, and want to make sure they are prepared for that." Talks over the rescue of Argyle are so secretive that even Guilfoyle does not know who the members of the consortium are, but he is not worried about it. He explained there was a similar situation when he was the administrator at Crystal Palace last summer. He added: "I know who they are in general terms, but I don't know specific identities. I don't see the situation as being unusual. When I was at Crystal Palace I met only two members of the consortium before they took over the club." The exclusivity period to Argyle's preferred bidder was granted on the condition they would come up with a substantial six-figure sum, and the money has started to arrive. Guilfoyle said: "We have begun to receive payment from the potential purchasers, which I'm pleased about. We are still working to a timetable of mid-June for a sale and purchase agreement." Argyle's office staff and some of the lower paid players have received 75 per cent of their wages for May. Guilfoyle intends to use some of the money from the club's potential new owners to make up the shortfall.
Peter Ridsdale has a meeting scheduled with a legal representative of Argyle's potential new owners in London today. He will be accompanied by lawyer David Hinchliffe, who has worked alongside him over recent weeks. Ridsdale insisted he still had 'no idea' who Argyle's potential new owners are, but he is pushing to find out more about them. Ridsdale had meetings with the Football League and the PFA last week, and said: "It was just going through the mechanics of getting the golden share back. To be honest, there wasn't anything I didn't know, but I wanted to reassure myself of that. There is a lot of work to be done."
Rory Fallon is confident he can secure another deal in England next season. But he's in absolutely no hurry to move on, happy to bide his time for at least a month while a holiday takes priority. "I'm totally not worried about football at the moment," he said. "I'm just playing the waiting game, waiting for the season to fully finish. It's the first time I've ever let my contract run out, I'm in unknown territory. I'm just going to see what comes along, in the meanwhile I'll be taking a holiday to Greece to rest. Even before the World Cup I'd had a long season, it's been a tough two years and I need to get myself in the sun and relax. I didn't get a chance to do that last season with the World Cup and all the injuries and niggles. I need rest and looking forward to coming back to England fully fit and then I'll start thinking about it. At the moment there's a little bit of talk, but I can't really say much until something concrete happens. While I'm away it will be up to my agent to sort something out, the situation should be clear in about a month. I'd love to go back to the Championship but you just don't know what's going to happen."
Peter Reid has explained the decision not to offer new contracts to several first-team players. He said: "The players were not offered new contracts for financial reasons. They were on good wages and we have to work with a new budget in League Two. Until I know who the new owners are and what's available, I'm waiting like everyone else. Like everyone else involved with the club, I am in limbo. It's not ideal. You might best describe it as interesting."
Stephane Zubar has been offered a new contract by Argyle, and is therefore the only out-of-contract senior player not to have been released by the club. Karl Duguid, Chris Clark, Rory Fallon, Luke Summerfield, Anton Peterlin, Krisztian Timar, Jim Paterson, Marcel Seip and Steve MacLean have not been offered new deals. Carl Fletcher and Luke Young have already secured new deals under the terms of their existing contracts. Romain Larrieu, Bondz N'Gala, Damian Johnson, Rory Patterson, Kari Arnason, Onismor Bhasera, Joe Mason, Yala Bolasie, Simon Walton and Curtis Nelson remain under contract for at least one more season. Also leaving will be youth team goalkeeper Ollie Chenoweth and striker Liam Head, and Ryan Leonard, who has been on loan with Tiverton Town.
Argyle have announced some details of the forthcoming pre-season campaign. Neil Warnock will be bringing his Queens Park Rangers side to Home Park on July 20th, a match which will be the first event in 'Le Testimonial' - a year marking Romain Larrieu's ten seasons at Argyle. A week later, July 27th, Lee Hodges brings his Truro City team to Home Park. The home pre-season campaign will kick-off against Bristol City on July 15th.
Yannick Bolasie insists that he has no intention of leaving Argyle this summer. He said: "Playing in League Two wouldn't faze me at all and I'd like to see out my contract at the club, with another year still left on it. If the club want me to stay then I will be more than happy to do so, but that decision is down to the club really. I'd love to stay here and help the club rebuild and give the fans some happiness again." Bolasie is confident the club can bounce back next season. We sold some of our top players this season because we needed the money at the time, but I don't think we are a selling club any more. In the circumstances the club had do things that they didn't want to do and obviously losing the likes of Reda Johnson and Bradley Wright-Phillips didn't help matters on the pitch, but that is football for you and you've just got to keep going. Hopefully, the club are in a position to keep the squad intact for next season so that we can give League Two a real good go next year. I think that we can bounce back, but I haven't played in League Two for a good few years now, so it could be tougher than I remember it being. I m expecting it to be a tough division to succeed in because the lower down you go the more difficult it gets to play football, so we definitely aren't expecting an easy ride."
Argyle's administrators have admitted they have no idea who is behind the consortium lined up to buy the club. A mystery Irish group are in position to take over, and have plans to develop on club and council land around Home Park. Representatives and lawyers acting on behalf of the consortium have since held talks with Peter Ridsdale, Brendan Guilfoyle and David Hinchliffe. But the trio insist they are being kept in the dark as to the investors' identities. Guilfoyle said: "At the moment, I don't know their names. I'm meeting the Football League in the next week to ten days and there is no question that they will want to know who they are. They will have to be utterly transparent with the Football League." Guilfoyle signed an exclusivity agreement with the group on May 5TH, effectively locking out other bidders. But reports suggest that the group, who insisted on a confidentiality agreement, only signed their part of the exclusivity package last night. The deal will see them pay out £1million in staged payments to maintain exclusivity until June 14th, the date Guilfoyle is hopeful of completing the sale. He is now hoping to pay club staff the balance of their May salaries as a result of the agreement having been signed, but admitted it had been frustrating to see the takeover talks appear to slow over the last week. "Certain issues have been delaying things while lawyers look at them," he said. "You do get concerned when things slow down, but we are making headway. The consortium have been clearing out of the way all the barriers." It is understood the group, understood to be fronted by a multi-millionaire property developer from Dublin, have been in talks with some of Argyle's creditors. Agreements with Mastpoint and Ticketus are believed to have now been reached. Meanwhile, Ridsdale was due to meet with kit suppliers and players' union the PFA today. "I've been asked to get on with the job," he said.
Peter Reid has reassured fans that his 'finger is on the pulse' over plans for next season's playing squad. "Some players will have to be let go," he said. "So we're going to have to make plans." I've been watching all the play-off games through the divisions on the TV. I'll also be at the Conference play-off final on Saturday. I'm keeping my finger on the pulse." Reid also took in yesterday's League One play-off semi-final between Huddersfield and Bournemouth. When asked whether he was limited to League One reserves and non-league players this summer Reid said: "No, not at all. There's a variety of options, and of course there's a lot of free transfers as well. We're aware of all the options available, and we are making plans, you have to." Reid also revealed that, alongside Peter Ridsdale, he will be writing to inform out-of-contract players of the club's intentions. "I'll be going over the player's letters at the end of the week," he said. "It's only fair that the players know first. We're in a bit of limbo, obviously, with the situation as it is, but we're just trying to do the job as best we can." Ridsdale added: "We have 12 players out of contract and we'll confirm if any of those have been offered new ones by the weekend. I can confirm that some will be, but only a very small number."
Argyle's survival as a football club, despite the financial chaos at Home Park, has been described as an 'outstanding achievement' by Peter Ridsdale. He said: "The fact is we are still here, and I believe we will be in a very strong position to go into next season. I think that's an outstanding achievement. That's not me trying to take credit. We galvanised everybody at this football club. I was given the task of being the nominal leader of it, and I'm very proud of the achievement. It was a club achievement, not a personal achievement, and I do think the odds were stacked heavily against it." Ridsdale has been Argyle's acting chairman and chief executive since they entered administration in March. Prior to that, he had been the football consultant to the former board. But Ridsdale first became involved with Argyle last October, when his talks about investment in the club uncovered the severity of the crisis. Ridsdale admitted he had been shocked at the state Argyle were in at the time. He said: "Despite the fact I signed a non-disclosure agreement, nobody would confirm to me the exact size of the problem. It was only with me digging that I was able to identify how bad the situation was. So that's a shock in itself, because you would expect the board to know." Argyle's directors were split into three factions, the first being Roy Gardner and Keith Todd. The second was the local trio of Paul Stapleton, Robert Dennerly and Tony Wrathall. And the third group was Yasuaki Kagami and George Synan. Ridsdale said: "Paul Stapleton, in particular, was very helpful to me when I first arrived. The biggest criticism I could make of the local directors was they didn't know the size of the problem. But, as I dug further, that was because the information had been with-held from them. It's easy to say 'they should have asked', but, of course, to ask you have got to know that it's a problem. I do think the way in which the club was run, there wasn't transparency at board level and, therefore, it was very difficult for individual board members to understand the size of the problem. The club had no cash prospects of trading through this season, none whatsoever, unless it had external funding. Now, the directors might tell you they knew it was coming, although I have no evidence of that. But there was no doubt when I raised the alarm the cash had run out. There was absolutely no plan to get through this season from a cash perspective. Clearly, there were members of the board who, having found out how bad it was, and this was essentially the local directors, urgently wanted me to take on a role to help them through it and point out the legal ways of solving the problem. They were supportive and co-operative. Paul stepped in in an executive capacity during that period and worked side-by-side with me. If it hadn't been for the two of us the club wouldn't be here now. There were others on the board who saw me as a potential problem because I think they realised how bad it was, and were concerned about the fact I would make it public. The sad thing is, of course, that it would have become public whether I was here or not because, clearly, the club had no means of getting through. I was also extremely disappointed that having received assurances from the Japanese shareholders there would be cash forthcoming, which was a lifeline, it never materialised." With Argyle facing a winding-up petition over tax debts, players such as Craig Noone and Bradley Wright-Phillips had to be sold. A transfer embargo also meant they could not retain the services of on-loan Chelsea midfielder Conor Clifford. Ridsdale added: "That almost became of secondary importance to keeping the club alive. My job then was to see if there was a way through without administration. We looked at all sorts of options, from sale and lease-back on the stadium. I have to say, had we succeeded in that route and left the original shareholders in situ, I wouldn't have hung around for long because, clearly, it needed a change. Sadly, for the club, the only way that change was going to come about was through administration and a new owner coming in the other side."
Rory Fallon has withdrawn from New Zealand's games against Mexico and Australia through injury. He had been due to travel with the team to games in Denver and Adelaide next month
Peter Reid is delighted Carl Fletcher has decided to stay and try to help revive Argyle's fortunes next season. He said: "It's really good news and I'm delighted that Fletch has decided to exercise the option and stay with us. Although he was out of contract in the summer, he had this option in the deal that gave him a choice to stay for another 12 months. And that's what he has decided to do and I think it's terrific news. I've spoken before about how important a figure he was for us last season, both in the dressing room and on the pitch. Given the budget is going to be pretty tight and we'll probably have a fair percentage of young players in the squad, Fletch's presence and experience will be very valuable indeed. So, with that news and with new owners set to be in place next month, it looks like there is light at the end of the tunnel for everyone, staff, players and supporters." Reid has impressed everybody with his loyalty and dignity as Argyle's financial problems took hold. He believes the prospect of new owners being announced next month, means there is 'light at the end of the tunnel' for the club. Reid, therefore, was in no mood to discuss his name being discussed as a possible candidate for managerless Sheffield United. When asked about his name being linked with The Blades, following the departure of Micky Adams, he stated: "I do not discuss things like that."
Carl Fletcher is set to stay with Argyle next season. Fletcher signed a two-year contract when he joined Argyle in 2009, but it included an option for him to extend it by 12 months at the end of the initial period. Fletcher has decided to do that and Peter Ridsdale said: "He has written to us and exercised the option in his contract. I take it as a great compliment to everything we are trying to do at the club that he wants to stay with us." Argyle have until next weekend to tell their out-of-contract players whether they will be offered new deals or not. But it is unclear whether they will be able to do that while negotiations with potential new owners of the club are taking place. Ridsdale held lengthy discussions with a representative of the preferred bidder in London on Wednesday and Thursday. But, for now, he remains in the dark as to who the potential new owners are. They are not, however, connected with Roy Gardner or Keith Todd. Ridsdale would not comment on his meetings in London, other than to describe them as 'very constructive.' He will hold further talks with the representative next week.
Karl Duguid believes the new owners of Argyle will be taking over 'a great football club' and that success could soon follow. He said: "This is a great football club. The first season I was here it was okay and it has gone downhill from there. I think whoever has come in, and we don't know who it is yet, realises what a big football club this could be. It has a great catchment area, the fans have turned out in their numbers this season and the staff who work here are all good people. Whoever comes in, they have got something to work with, and onwards and upwards. You can only look up now, and I think that's what everyone associated with the football club will be doing." The squad have not been paid since December, while the non-playing staff have also worked without wages for long periods. But that has led to a sense of unity at Home Park, which was demonstrated after the final game of the season last Saturday. The players and staff carried out a lap of appreciation on the pitch, and it proved to be very emotional. Duguid said: "I got relegated at Colchester and I got relegated last season but this one has been the toughest to take. It was half taken out of our hands, and I was a bit emotional when I was going around on the lap of appreciation. I think everybody was. We had been relegated, but it was a celebration. It was just so strange. The club does get to you, and I think what has gone on this season has brought everyone closer. The players gave their all to this football club to try to keep it in the division, and try to help as much as possible. It would have been easy just to have thrown the towel in. And you have got to thank the staff who have worked here for nothing. The players had a little bit of help every now and then from the PFA, but the ones who deserve all the credit are the people in the offices. We appreciate them and, like I say, it brought us closer. We have got to know all of them better just through tough times. It's a horrible way for it to happen, but I suppose if that's what it takes then it's a good basis for next season." Duguid did not want to pass judgement on the former board of directors, and added: "I don't know how the football club got into so much debt. That's out of my hands. All I can comment on is that we, as players, tried our best, as did the staff." Duguid admitted he did not know what the future held for him. He said: "It's out of the gaffer's hands at the moment, so it's a bit of a strange situation. Who knows? I might get a call from Peter Reid about a new contract. If I did, I wouldn't rule that out at all. I have enjoyed my three years here and if there was an opportunity to come back that would be great. It's out of my hands. We will just see what happens."
Luke Young will be offered a professional contract at Argyle for next season. Peter Reid cannot start building his squad until the ownership of the club is resolved but Young will be part of his plans for the campaign. Reid said: "I have spoken to Youngy and told him something will be sorted out. I think there's a clause in his apprentice contract that if he has played in the first team he gets a pro deal. The lad deserves it anyway because he has done well, but getting these things done will have to wait until the buyer comes in." Young is one of seven apprentices coming to the end of their contracts and they have to be informed by May 21st whether they will be offered professional terms or not. The preferred bidder for Argyle will seek to retain the services of Reid, but, at the moment, the manager is in the dark about the potential new owners, like everyone else who works for the club. "I don't know anything about them, so it's no use me making a comment," he said. Reid has drawn up a list of possible signings for later this summer, assisted by his chief scout Bob Shaw, and some talks have taken place. He added: "There are lists of players I have drawn up with Bob Shaw. I have spoken to a couple of players about certain things, but it's difficult when you have got nothing to offer anybody." Reid addressed the squad in the dressing room after the game against Orient and apologised he could not make any decisions on them yet. He said: "I explained that we are in limbo at the moment. I told them I was sorry they hadn't been paid, but well done on keeping going and giving it their best shot, and that I would be in touch." Reid, meanwhile, is trying to finalise some pre-season friendlies. "We have got some initial ones lined up, but we need to confirm them," he said. "Pre-season is all planned out. I have just got to fit the games in."
Roy Gardner has said he does not know who the preferred bidder is for the club, but has ruled out his wealthy associate Eddie O'Connor. Gardner also said he hopes to reclaim some of the 'significant sum' he invested in the club. However, he declined to comment on a report which said he and co-investors in the Mastpoint company may have lost as much as £3million trying to prop up Argyle. Mastpoint's annual return reveals Gardner was one of 20 shareholders. The list also included Keith Todd and O'Connor, chief executive of Mainstream Renewable Power. Gardner is chairman of that company and there has been web speculation that O'Connor, a Dubliner, could be part of the mysterious Irish consortium. But Gardner said: "Absolutely not. I've been told it's nobody we know or who has been involved in Plymouth. I've not the slightest knowledge of who it is. We've asked but have not been told."
Curtis Nelson is on standby for the England under-19s' squad that will play European Championship Elite Round games against Spain, Montenegro and Switzerland between May 25th and June 6th.
Peter Ridsdale will meet a representative of Argyle's potential new owners in London today. It will be the first time Ridsdale has had talks with anyone connected to the mystery bidder and he hopes to be given the go-ahead to start work on preparing for next season, even though the buy-out will not be completed until next month. Finding a new kit supplier and shirt sponsor are two of Ridsdale's tasks and he also wants to start the sale of season tickets and advertising boards. Ridsdale said: "I don't know very much about the preferred bidder. The administrator has told me they have proven funding, and while there is a property angle they are very much interested in this football club surviving and prospering. I will know a little more after I meet a representative of the potential purchasers in London today. I think we all want to get on with the job in hand, and I'm told it's likely I will be given the task of certainly helping the club through the summer into next season. Then the jobs we know that have to be done, get done, rather than waiting for the purchase to complete." Argyle's CVA cannot be fully ratified until a 28-day appeal period has elapsed, and Brendan Guilfoyle has indicated he hopes the sale will be completed on June 14th. Ridsdale said: "I'm told that's the back-stop date. I think the critical thing is removing the uncertainty about what we do next. What the administrators are trying to do is get the authority from the bidder to get on with the job in hand, pre-completion. I think that's essential if we are to get everything done. We have got no kit for next season; we have got no sponsors; we haven't sold any season tickets. There's so much to do. What I have already done is write down all the things that I think we need to do and asked the staff to contribute if I have forgotten anything. Then what we are doing is agreeing who's doing what and getting on with it. I'm hoping that will be with the seal of the approval of the preferred bidder by later today, and therefore we can do it with confidence. A lot of people say to me 'it's the close season, there's nothing to do' but this is my busiest time of the year. Once I have had the meeting today, I will seek the approval of the administrators to sell season tickets. I want it to go into a separate locked-box bank account so if for any reason the club wasn't around the people who had put their money in could get it back. What it will do is guarantee that we get on with the job in hand. People will know what the prices are and they can show their support for the future of this football club by buying a season ticket. It's something I would like to get on and do as soon as possible." Among Argyle's creditors were kit suppliers, Adidas, and Ridsdale is working on finding a replacement for them next season. He said: "I may not be able to finally commit on the replica kit for the supporters. But there are deals that can be done where, essentially, I can get manufacturers to gift kit for the first team, so we don't have to pay for it. I have got meetings next week with three kit suppliers, all of whom I have had discussions with already. The other problem we have got is we haven't got any sponsors to put on the shirts yet. That's something I will be working on over the next 10 days or so." Ridsdale has already made approaches about shirt sponsorship, but has not ruled out Ginsters continuing their association with Argyle, which started in 2002. He said: "I have been working on these things for the last few weeks, knowing we had to get it done. I have got a list, two or three pages long, of jobs we need to do in the summer. We have got programme printers to sort out and all the catering contracts around the ground are null and void. When the fixtures come out next month, we will try to sell the match sponsorships. It's everything. Every contract we had has expired."
Carl Fletcher believes Argyle can again become a club the city can be proud of. He said: "You just hope this football club can get rid of the dead wood and the rubbish that's surrounding the place, and the doom and gloom. Hopefully, the slate will be wiped clean, and someone will come in with fresh ideas and fresh faces and really give this city a football club to be proud of. It's such a long way for people to come here but there is a big catchment area and we have got a good core of loyal supporters. If you can just get the balance right, then anything is possible, really." Fletcher and his team-mates have not been paid their wages since December, but the fans have rallied around them, and the club's non-playing staff, who have worked without pay for three months. "It has been unbelievable," said Fletcher. "People like the Green Taverners have done a fantastic job, really. They have come in and shown what is possible with a little bit of hard work and know-how. There has been a good rapport between the players and fans since all the trouble began. It brought us together, and it's nice to see that. The fans have stuck by us, and we have appreciated everything they have done for us. Long may it continue, really. If this football club is going to achieve anything, once the money things get sorted out, it's not going to be down to the players or the office staff on their own, it's going to be everyone." Peter Reid has also worked without wages, or without the ability to bring in any players for much of the season. But he has earned widespread praise for the way he has conducted himself throughout the crisis. Fletcher said: "He has had his hands tied behind his back and not been able to do as much as he would have liked. But I think the whole management team deserve a lot of credit. Adam Sadler, Paul Atkinson, Ian Leigh, Scott Russell, Neil Lunnon the kit man, and people like that don't get a mention very often. But they have all done fantastically well for us. They have seen us day in day out, at high points and low points. They have kept us going, and a lot of credit has got to go to them because it has been tough times for them as well, but they have been working hard, doing as much as they can for this football club."
Peter Reid wanted to end a disappointing campaign in style, so was angered by the mistake-prone performance of his side in Saturday's 4-1 defeat. Curtis Nelson was one of the main culprits, committing a needless handball in the 13th minute, which resulted in a penalty. Nelson made another error in the 75th minute, when he attempted to head the ball back to Romain Larrieu but did not make a proper contact. Orient substitute Alex Revell tried to chip the ball over Larrieu, who had rushed outside his penalty area. The ball struck the 'keeper on the arm, and he was sent-off. From the resulting free-kick, Revell scored with a deflected shot to put Orient 3-1 up. Reid said: "I don't like getting beat, especially through your own fault. They played well in certain areas but we have contributed to our downfall. I think that's the diplomatic way of saying it." It was put to Reid that Nelson's handball was perhaps part of his learning process, but he was not having any of that. "What, learning to keep your hands by the side," he said. "That's really difficult. I learned that at school. You have got your head and your feet to deal with the ball. We paid the penalty. And when Romain got sent-off, Nelson should have dealt with the football, but he didn't do that. You are asking me is it a learning process. Those things should happen on a school pitch, not in professional football. They were terrible mistakes, and it has cost us." A 25-yard drive from Yannick Bolasie had reduced the deficit in the 63rd minute, and Argyle then had a spell when they were on top before Larrieu's dismissal. Reid added: "I thought we started the second half really brightly. We squeezed them and Joe Mason was unlucky with a shot against a post. Then we got the best goal of the game, but the sending-off typified our season. It was always going to be hard after that, against a side that had good movement. They rotated really well in the middle of the park. Then you are just chasing it, so it was disappointing. The players have worked hard but you can't afford to give goals away at any level, and that's what we did today. We started the better team, but from their first bit of possession we gave a penalty away. You can't afford to do it. If you give goals away it's hard. And then the ball goes through a wall to make it 2-0. The players worked hard and passed it well, but it counts for nothing." For Reid, and his players, it has been a very difficult time because there has been so much uncertainty surrounding the club. "You are never happy when you are relegated," he said, when asked to sum up his emotions at the end of the campaign. "It has been interesting in terms of the things that have been thrown at the football club. We have done well getting through. The most important thing is the survival of the football club and, hopefully, that will be the case in the next month or so." Reid declined to comment on the approval of the CVA or the announcement there was a preferred bidder. He said: "I'm not talking about anything like that. It's out of my hands."
Romain Larrieu will be banned for the first match of next season after being sent-off at Home Park on Saturday. Larrieu was philosophical about the prospect, and said: "It's a shame because now I'm going to miss the start of next season. It's not very nice, but I have faced worse in my life so I think I can cope with this." Larrieu had been sent-off only once before, when he was a youth team player at Montpellier. He said: "It was a handball. I have got no complaints about that. My complaint is surely there should be something in the laws of football about common sense, but there isn't, so there you go. I knew I was going to be short, but I felt I had to come out of the area. It all happened so quickly, and I just reacted. It hit me on my arm, but I was angry about it because I don't think there was any need to send me off." Larrieu is under contract next season and is lining up a testimonial match for July. He believes a shake-up at Argyle this summer could be exactly what the club needs after a depressing period in the club's history. He said: "It's going to be pretty much a new squad, and it might not be a bad thing. We have had a tough time in the last two seasons – three, if you really look at it. But League Two isn't easy. I remember that from playing in it before. In football, you have to earn the right to play, but in League One and League Two that is even truer than anywhere else. If you have got people in your team who are ready to earn the right to play then you can beat anyone, and you can go on runs of wins. I hope the manager will be able to get out there and find those types of players who you need in League Two week in and week out." Peter Reid has 12 months remaining on his contract and has indicated he would like to stay at Argyle and rebuild the club, but that depends on the new owners. Larrieu added: "The manager has apologised to all of the boys because he can't give them a decision about whether he's going to keep them or not. That's as far as he can go. We don't even know who is buying the club. All sorts of things could happen. They might not want him and they might not want me. We will see."
One positive to come out of Argyle's defeat by Leyton Orient was the performance of Luke Young. Peter Reid said: "I thought he did smashing. There was one bit of skill when the ball got whacked up in the air and he got a great touch and passed it." Young is coming to the end of his two-year apprenticeship but there seems every chance he will be offered a professional contract for next season. Reid said: "As a manager, I think your philosophy in football is important. Even though we are going to be in a lower league I would like to try to get people who can get it down and play, and certainly he can do that."
Argyle lost 4-1 to Leyton Orient at Home Park, the goal scored by Yannick Bolasie after 63 minutes. Argyle: Larrieu, Duguid, Zubar, Nelson, Paterson, Fletcher, Young, Peterlin, Bolasie, Mason, Patterson. Subs - Button, Arnason (not used – Chenoweth, Summerfield, N'Gala). Attendance - 11,501.
Peter Reid believes Carl Fletcher was a worthy winner of the player-of-the-year award. "He has kept the dressing room together, in terms of his personality and leadership, and he hasn't ducked out on the pitch," Reid said. "He has played out there when he wasn't 100 per cent fit on numerous occasions and always given everything he has got. He's a good footballer. He keeps the ball, he knits things together and he smells danger in the middle of the park." Argyle's young player-of-the-year was Curtis Nelson, and Reid added: "Circumstances have dictated that he has gone in for over 30-odd games, which for a 17-year-old at any level is a remarkable achievement. He has been terrific. He's still learning the game and he makes mistakes. Young players do that. But he has certainly done himself a power of good in terms of the way he has gone about the job. He has played in some real difficult games, pressure situations, and the lad has handled it really well." A total of 14 players are out of contract this summer, with most of them expected to leave. Reid has not been able to offer new deals to any of them because of the uncertainty over Argyle's future. He said: "I think they know the situation as well as me. It doesn't take an Einstein to work out we are in limbo at the moment. We can't do anything. But certainly, when you go down a league, the wage bill has got to be cut. It's a fact of life. We have got to start again. So there will be some players leaving the football club."
Argyle's creditors today agreed to accept the terms of the Company Voluntary Arrangement and at the same time administrator Brendan Guilfoyle revealed he has signed an exclusivity deal with a potential new owner for the club. The identity of the person or consortium won't be revealed until June 14th, but the deal means they alone are now vying to buy Argyle, along with its reduced debt. Paul Buttivant and James Brent seem to have been ruled out of the deal. Guilfoyle said the preferred bidder is not anyone with a previous connection to the club, and is someone with a genuine interest in football. He said the CVA was one element of the recovery of Argyle and he was 'confident the club could be saved'.
Simon Walton will miss the season-ending game against Leyton Orient tomorrow because of a knee injury suffered in the defeat by Southampton on Monday. Peter Reid said: "Walton is definitely ruled out tomorrow, but it's not anything to do with the repair he had to his anterior cruciate ligaments. I think he's feeling a little bit sore in the knee, but the physio has assured me it's nothing to do with the long-term injury he had. It's something completely different. It's just not worth taking a risk on him tomorrow. From a medical point of view, we are pleased with his knee reconstruction, and he has got to get right for next season now." Rory Fallon, who has been playing recently despite a groin injury, is also set to be sidelined tomorrow and Chris Clark has not recovered from a knee ligament injury. Reid added: "I always try to look to the future and, with the team for tomorrow in mind, I might throw a couple of youngsters in. I'm not sure yet." Reid could also recall Romain Larrieu at the expense of David Button, whose loan spell from Spurs ends tomorrow. Reid said: "I will have a think about the goalkeeping situation. Romain has been a tremendous servant to the club. He has got another year left on his contract, but maybe sentiment will sway me there. I still haven't made my mind up." Reid wants to send fans into the summer with a win and smiles on their faces. He said: "Obviously, we know our fate and where we are going to play next season. Hopefully, we can go out with a bang. It would be something for the supporters to cheer about." Reid is under contract to Argyle next season and has already confirmed he would like to carry on as manager. "We have got to get an owner in, and we have got to start planning as soon as possible," he said. "The sooner the better for everyone concerned, myself included."
Argyle player-of-the-year Carl Fletcher has admitted there is a mood of uncertainty among the squad as the season draws to a close. Many of them, including Fletcher, will be out of contract this summer and face futures away from Home Park. Fletcher said: "There are a lot of things going on. Players are out of contract and planning to leave. They are packing up their houses. We have still got one game to go, and no-one knows what's going on with the club. There are lots of things that are unresolved but I'm sure, in due course, it will all be sorted out. At the minute, I don't think anyone knows where they stand, and it's obviously a frustrating time. We are coming up to holiday time, and the last thing you want to do is keep worrying about your pay and your football. It's a time where you switch off from football, and you just relax and recharge the batteries. Hopefully everything will get sorted out and the lads will be able to enjoy their holidays." Fletcher was named as Argyle's player-of-the-year on Monday, having also lifted the trophy last season. However, as Argyle have been relegated in each of the last two campaigns, that has taken the gloss of that achievement for him. Fletcher added: "Personally, it's very nice to win the award but, obviously, results over the last couple of financial crisis at Home Park has rocked the club, and taken it to the brink of extinction. But the squad continued to battle on, even after a 10-point deduction in February. Fletcher said: "I don't think people would believe some of the things that have gone on, last season and this season, if we told them. I think the main thing everyone can take out from it, hopefully, is that it will never happen to them again in their football careers, touch wood. When things are going well and you are winning every week, it's very easy to turn up for training, easy to play the games and easy to go through your routines. But when results aren't going well, there is no money and things are looking bleak, you really find out about certain people and you find out a lot about yourself. I think it has been a massive life experience for everyone involved here, whether they use it later on in football or in the rest of their lives." Fletcher will make his 95th appearance for Argyle tomorrow, and when asked what the future held for him beyond that, he said: "Who knows? Hopefully getting some wages. I think it's up in the air for every player in the dressing room. Apart from the two relegations, my family and I have really enjoyed everything here. It's a lovely place. I have got three kids and it's a great place to bring them up."
Romain Larrieu will have a testimonial match at Home Park in July. High-profile opponents have been lined up, but their identity is being kept secret for now. A date for the game is being finalised and Larrieu hopes to make an announcement confirming all the details next week.
Argyle will take a step towards survival today if creditors agree to write off the bulk of the club's debts. The approval of at least 75 of the debt value is needed to pass the Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA). Administrator Brendan Guilfoyle said he was 'confident but not complacent' about the vote. He is also planning to reveal a preferred bidder at today's creditors' meeting, with three parties interested in buying the club. The consortium led by Paul Buttivant are reported to have contacted unsecured creditors offering them nearly four times James Brent's figure. The reports suggest documents sent to administrators state the consortium would offer 3p in the pound. Buttivant last night denied that was an attempt to derail the CVA. "People will vote how they want to vote," he said. "I sincerely hope, if Mr Brent or anybody else does get the club, they are successful. All we are saying is the administrator should take our offer seriously and talk to us in a more rational way."
It has been a season to forget for everyone connected with Argyle and Peter Reid has shed some light on the feeling within the club over recent months. He said: "You just look forward to the next game. It's been a battle, and up to Monday we were still in with a chance. Ultimately, we failed, but - when you put the ten points on - in football terms, the players haven't. They've got enough points and they gave it their best shot by taking it to the second to last game. It's not been a precipice, we've been looking forward to every game and trying to get results, so it's been a challenge. It's been very disappointing getting relegated, you can't hide that. If I'm honest, I'm feeling a little bit flat at the moment, personally. But the way the football club has reacted in terms of the way everyone's galvanised together has been fantastic. It has been difficult - the human cost and what these people have been through is something no one can describe." Reid reserved his final words for the fans: "It's their football club and we've got to give them something out on the park. We've got to go out there and win football matches. It's Plymouth Argyle, and we've got to get it back."
Prospective Argyle owner James Brent has urged administrators to hurry up and make up their minds over who they regard as the best bidder for the club. Brent has stated that he does not wish to compete with any bidder who might be better placed to save Argyle, but he also wants a decision from the administrators as soon as possible. "I think we've got to the stage now where the administrators need to make their choice and they need to move forward to close a transaction," he said. "It was always going to take time, and it's very frustrating. There are a number of conditions that we've set for our offer that do need to be fulfilled before we can go ahead and buy the club. The first of these is that the administrator decides that we are the preferred bidder, as we've made it quite clear that we don't want to compete against other, better bidders. We also clearly need the unsecured creditors to vote in favour of the CVA by a majority of 75 per cent at their CVA meeting later this week. So there's still quite a long way to go, and there's not a huge amount of time to complete those tasks."
Argyle are reducing prices for Saturday's game with Leyton Orient. Adults will pay just £5 and under-18s only £1 for the match, which takes place 24 hours after a creditors' meeting which will determine the future of the club. Peter Ridsdale is hoping fans will take up the offer and send out a positive statement of the club's intent at the end of a turbulent season. He said: "It might be the end of the season but this is the beginning of a new era. We need to show the new owners what a fantastic following our football club has and how our wonderful Green Army deserves to have a vibrant, healthy Football League team." Anyone who has already bought a ticket for the game at the full price should contact the box office before 3pm on Saturday to obtain a refund for the difference.
Romain Larrieu reacted with sadness to the defeat by Southampton and Argyle's relegation, but is determined to focus on the positive aspects of a troubling season. "It's a sad day for the club," he said. "It's the saddest day this year. The manner of the thing is dreadful. The first goal changed the game drastically. It's a blatant foul. The next whistle is half time and we're 1-0 down when we've done as well, if not better than them. It's a shame. It's another side of football. It's not a nice side. I've been lucky in my years here, it's only been difficult for a short while. It's been an everyday struggle to get the lads together, because it's so easy for heads to drop when not getting paid, losing games and all sort of things happening at the club, but those boys have been terrific. I feel like as a team we have stood up. We have tried to show how proud we are to be Plymouth Argyle players. I hope that's what they'll remember from this season. And forget the rest as soon as we can." Had the club not gone into administration, 52 points would have been enough to stay up and Larrieu and the players are taking this a positive. "I said, when we got the deduction, that we need to get enough points so we didn't sportingly go down. It wasn't in our hands whether we went into administration or not," he said. "You have to wonder how we did not get those ten points earlier in the season. It would have been a different kettle of fish to get ten points earlier than with two months left in the season. It's a testament to what's been happening at this club. It didn't give us enough time to pull it back, but we almost did it. To be in with a shout in the last week in the season when at the beginning of March we lost ten points, it shows we have a great group of players. The thing is, it wasn't enough." Larrieu reacted philosophically when asked if the experience will make him a stronger person, and indicated that he has no plans to leave the club in the summer. "I hope so. It hasn't made me richer, that's for sure!" he added. "I'm happy to stay. I want to rebuild. When I came here we were in League Two. And now we are back. If I can help us to get a bit higher, I will do whatever I can." Larrieu was less than complimentary about the club's former directors and believes the team would have stood a far better chance of avoiding the drop if administration had been considered sooner, giving the team more time to overcome a 10 point deduction. "You have to wonder what would have happened," he said. "To get the deduction when there's not long left in the season, it's hard. It's a testament of what's been happening at this club. For them upstairs to have waited that long was a joke. It doesn't give us enough time to pull it back, but we still almost did it. To be still in it with two games left at the end of the season, after how we felt in early March, was just fantastic. It shows we are a great group of players, but it wasn't enough."
James Brent is on the verge of being announced the 'preferred bidder' for Argyle. Unless any last-minute offers are received, he is expected to be named administrator Brendan Guilfoyle's 'preferred bidder' on Friday, giving him exclusivity in proceeding with a purchase of the club. Now he is hoping to complete a deal and take his seat in the boardroom next month. He said: "From the outset our bid was intended to provide a fall-back to the process. I have been clear that the only party I wish to compete against is a potential liquidator. The tempo for me has now changed; we need to finalise everything by early June for the club to survive and thrive. To achieve this timetable, the preferred bidder needs to be chosen now and to commence work in earnest. I firmly believe the club is worth saving." Reports suggest Brent's offer involves Plymouth City Council purchasing Home Park on a lease-back basis. Neither party are willing to comment on the authority's involvement, but Brent admitted his offer was 'conditional upon concluding a transaction' with the council. Council officers introduced Brent to Peter Ridsdale earlier this year. It is understood Ridsdale would become executive chairman under Brent, who would also seek to retain Peter Reid as the club's manager. "Peter Reid has clearly played a critical part in holding the club together," he added. "We are keen that he should continue as team manager and play his part in rebuilding the club. He has indicated that he is keen to stay." Brent also plans to settle all unpaid player and staff wages in full. £2.9million is owed to players, a figure that includes future contract obligations. A consortium fronted by Paul Buttivant had a second bid rejected last week. Administrators say they are yet to prove they have the £5million needed to take over the club. That consortium last night criticised Brent's bid, accusing administrators of applying 'different rules to different bidders', delaying the process. Meanwhile, an Irish group led by a Dublin-based multi-millionaire has proved its funds and is still carrying out 'due diligence' following talks with the council. They have large-scale development plans for land beside Home Park, and are running out of time to forge a partnership with the council. The mystery investors have been working with accountants BCK Wealth Management and recently sent property advisers CB Richard Ellis to the city.
Argyle face 'the most important week in their history' as administrators bid to resolve the financial crisis at the club. James Brent is ready to rescue the club, but can only progress with a purchase if creditors agree a deal offering them just a fraction of their cash back. Businesses and individuals are being offered just 0.77p for every unsecured pound they are owed through a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA). They will vote at a meeting on Friday afternoon, with administrator Brendan Guilfoyle confident of the settlement of the required 75 per cent of debt. A 28-day appeal period will then begin, after which the Football League will be asked to transfer Argyle's 'golden share' in the league system to the new owner. Until then, the club is unable to press ahead with plans for its 2011/12 squad, kit, advertisers, merchandise, season tickets or pre-season training schedule. Peter Ridsdale said: "I actually think this week is the most important in the club's history. If the vote goes the wrong way on Friday, there will be no Plymouth Argyle Football Club. For the next few weeks, literally in football club terms, it is a matter of life or death." Guilfoyle is to hold talks with all parties interested in buying the club this week ahead of the meeting. He said: "If James Brent's is the best offer on Friday I shall roll my sleeves up and we'll work hard to push his offer over the line in that 28-day period. There are stakeholders still to get agreements with but I am confident we will get the CVA approved." HMRC, owed a relatively small £293,000, is likely to reject the proposal. But if creditors totalling more than 25 per cent of the unsecured debt join them, Guilfoyle can call an adjournment of up to 14 days. If an agreement is still not reached after negotiations, he must either wind up the club or exit administration without a CVA. Doing that could see Argyle hit with a further 15-point deduction next season.
Peter Reid has revealed he wants to remain manager of Argyle next season. Reid also admitted his players were 'devastated' at losing their fight to avoid the drop but insisted relegation was not their fault, and they should feel proud of the way they had battled against adversity. He said: "Listen, I don't know if the new owner will want me, or what's going on at the football club. I'm contracted for another year and I would be delighted to stay here, but that might be out of my hands. It's not a question for now because we have still got one game left, and I'm desperate to win it for the supporters, and the players. The players are devastated in there, and they don't need to be. They have given me, as a manager, everything I have asked. Possibly, I could have done with a few more goals but it wasn't for the want of trying." Reid paid tribute to the fans, who have dug deep into their pockets to raise funds to make sure Argyle have stayed alive. "Besides supporting the football club, they have helped keep it going," he said. "That's what it means to them. We are all hurting, but there are worse things that happen at sea. We have just got to get on with it." Argyle were second best to Southampton yesterday, after conceding the first goal of the game on the stroke of half-time. Reid said: "First of all, congratulations to Southampton Football Club. They deserved the victory on the day. On our part, we gave it our best shot. The players are devastated, but they have no need to reproach themselves. What has happened this season, has been really, really difficult for a good set of players. And I have told them they should be proud of what they have done. They have got 52 points, they haven't been paid since January, but they have struggled through. They have given me everything they have got. It wasn't good enough to keep us up, but it wasn't for lack of effort. Everyone at the football club should be proud. The players, the staff and the supporters have been brilliant. We just couldn't climb that last hurdle. We have got to play the game out against Leyton Orient, and then see where we go from there." Ultimately, financial mismanagement has cost Argyle their League One status. Reid said: "We got the 10 points deducted in February, and we hadn't been paid the month before, so it didn't help in lifting these players, but they have done smashing. They have put in some great performances and it's not their fault the club is in this situation. They should hold their heads high." Reid has experienced a lot during his career as a player and manager, but nothing had prepared him for the chaos of this season. He said: "It hasn't been great, but these things happen. It's the way you handle them and, I have got to say, the football club has handled it tremendously well. It has happened to other clubs and they have bounced back. There is no use crying over spilt milk. We have just got to get on with getting a new owner in place and getting this club where it rightly belongs. It doesn't belong in League Two, but we are there now for reasons out of the players' hands and out of my hands. After the Leyton Orient game, we have got to start afresh next season."
Carl Fletcher has been named the Argyle Player of the Season for the second successive year. Curtis Nelson was voted as the club's Young Player of the Season.
Argyle are relegated after losing 3-1 to Southampton at Home Park, the goal scored by Yannick Bolasie after 90 minutes. Argyle: Button, Duguid, Zubar, Nelson, Paterson, Fletcher, Arnason, Walton, Bolasie, Fallon, Patterson. Subs - Mason (not used – Larrieu, Timar, Peterlin, Summerfield, Young, N'Gala). Attendance - 13,118.
Peter Reid blamed Argyle's sloppy passing as one of the main reasons for their defeat at Exeter City on Saturday. He also admitted the pressure of the must-win game could have been behind that. Reid said: "We didn't pass it well enough in the first half. There were numerous occasions when, under no pressure, we gave the ball away. You can't afford to do that at any level, but against a good passing side like Exeter it's absolutely criminal." Asked whether the pressure of the match had told on his players, Reid replied: "Possibly. You could understand it if the pitch wasn't clever, like the one at Dagenham and Redbridge. I'm not sure Lionel Messi could have played on that pitch. But, today, it was on to pass the ball around and we didn't. I'm gutted. Whether the pressure got to them, I don't know. It's alright being brave when you are going into tackles, and things like that, but sometimes you have got to be brave to have the football. We have got to be brave to have the football in these last couple of games." Exeter's winning goal was scored by James Dunne only 23 seconds after half-time, with a fierce shot after a lay-off from Jamie Cureton. Reid, though, was far from pleased with the way Argyle conceded it, though. He thought Curtis Nelson and Stephane Zubar should have dealt with the danger. Reid said: "It was a bad goal from our point of view at the start of the second half. He did strike it well, but we defended really poorly. It was just a straight ball down the side. Centre-halves should be in holes clearing that one, but we haven't dealt with it. To be fair, after they scored at least we showed a bit of resilience and we got them on the back foot. In the first 50 minutes we didn't, and that's why we have got beaten." Argyle had the support of nearly 1,200 fans at St James' Park, but they did not have much to cheer until late on. "I'm disappointed for them," said Reid. "Hopefully, we will put in a better performance against Southampton. They are a great set of supporters and we have just got to try to get these two victories for them. As disappointed as I am today, Monday might be different." Argyle are expected to have the same squad available to them against Southampton as they did at Exeter. That includes Simon Walton, whose reaction to being substituted in the 52nd minute did not impress the boss. Reid said: "I think Simon Walton has hurt his hands because when he was coming off he kept waving them in the air. Hopefully, his hands will be alright. Apart from that, everyone is okay." Argyle must beat Southampton and then Leyton Orient at Home Park on Saturday to stand any escaping relegation. And even that might not be enough, depending on results elsewhere. Reid said: "We need the fans behind us on Monday because we are still in there fighting, even though it has been a disappointing day for us."
David Button thought Argyle deserved some reward after their strong finish at St James' Park on Saturday. He said: "Everyone is massively disappointed. It's a game we were looking to win. Unfortunately, it hasn't happened. We have got to pick ourselves up and go again now. I don't think we deserved to lose. We know we didn't play well in the first half. We aren't stupid in that respect. We know we could have done better, but once we did go behind we created more chances." Argyle were caught cold at the start of the second period and conceded a goal after just 23 seconds. Button said: "We talked in the dressing room at half-time about maybe keeping it solid for another 20 minutes, and then we could get more into the game. So to lose a goal so soon was massively disappointing. But it meant we still had time to create things." There had been an injury scare for Button near the end of the pre-match warm-up when he hurt his right shoulder. Physios Paul Atkinson and Ian Leigh rushed to the scene and Button laid on the pitch for some time. However, the injury was not a serious one and the 'keeper was able to start the game. Button said: "I just came out for a ball, twisted awkwardly and landed on my shoulder. It's a little bit sore, but I managed to shake it off. When I first did it, I was worried, but it did ease off. It's nothing too serious." Button admitted it would be a tough game against Southampton, especially after the disappointment of losing the Devon derby. He added: "We know we are still in there with a chance if we win our last two games. That's our aim and we will be going all-out today. Our fans have been superb all season and I'm sure they will turn out and get behind us as they have done. It's a massive game for everyone linked to Plymouth, and it's one we are all looking forward to."
Rory Fallon has urged Argyle fans to stay positive ahead of tomorrow's game against Southampton. "We've still got a lot to play for," he said. "We've got two games to try and get out of it. It's still possible. We've got two games to play. If we win these two games, it's possible we could stay up. Please keep believing. Keep supporting us, keep getting behind us. We're giving everything. Hopefully we'll get some breaks. As a footballer you get used to losing and you get used to winning. I know the fans are going to take it hard, but you've got to keep striving, keep working for each other. We've got to keep fighting to the very end. We need the fans to get behind us. I really believe the home advantage does help. The Exeter fans got the Exeter boys through this game. We have to ask for help. We need our twelfth man to be there." Fallon won a great deal of possession in the air at St James' Park, especially in the second half, but despite a series of chances in the closing twenty minutes, Argyle could not find an equaliser. Fallon added: "Sometimes in derbies you don't play brilliant football but it was the first minute of the second half that wrecked our game. We should have dealt with that. We started getting more possession. We knew it would happen like that, people get tired. It's difficult when you are under pressure to get that goal. It wasn't to be today. We were so unlucky with some of the things. Yala had one which went past the post, I had one disallowed, Rory was in one on one. We were making chances but it just wasn't to be."
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