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Plymouth calling Kagami, please send cash

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Matt Slater | 16:36 UK time, Friday, 14 January 2011

Three and a half years ago, with the sun shining on a side that had just finished in the top half of the Championship, Plymouth Argyle's directors gathered to talk about what the meeting's "suggested discussion points" described as "additional funding to take the team to the next level".

All agreed a genuine promotion push was unlikely on cash-flow projections and even standing still was going to be difficult unless the club found a lot more money. On that there was no need for debate.

But there was a very real need for debate - proper, honest and transparent debate - about where any new funding might come from and on what terms it would be accepted. Sadly, this exchange of views never took place and Argyle are now paying a huge price for such reticence.

By the end of this month, the club must demonstrate they have enough cash to see out the current campaign. Most of that cash will have to come from the club's majority shareholder, Yasuaki Kagami, the man that 2007 board meeting effectively anointed as the Pilgrims' saviour, a man who has so far done very little saving.

Before I continue with the strange tale of Kagami's missing millions, I should clarify what I mean by "the end of this month" because it is not a formal deadline. The club's had a few of those in recent months and the one most Argyle fans are focused on is 9 February, when the League One side must return to court with proof they have paid the £760,000 "petition debt" owed to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

Plymouth Argyle's Home Park

Talk of a £50m upgrade at Argyle's Home Park has gone quiet as the club's cash crisis has emerged

That sum is five months' worth of taxes left unpaid by the Argyle "group of companies" (of which there are a dizzying number), a sum HMRC had to go to court to obtain. The good news is the club has paid all of that debt and a much smaller amount which was the subject of a second HMRC winding-up petition last week.

The money has been cobbled together by emptying the club coffers, diverting their share of the Football League's broadcast contract direct to the taxman and selling their best players.

That last source of revenue that has been by far the most fruitful: the transfers of Craig Noone (to Brighton & Hove Albion), Reda Johnson (Sheffield Wednesday) and George Donnelly (Fleetwood Town) have brought in over £500,000. This is good business in the current market and the club's "financial consultant" Peter Ridsdale should be (begrudgingly, perhaps?) congratulated for insisting these fees are paid up front.

Ridsdale had also hoped to be banking another £300,000 from Reading in return for Argyle's top scorer, Bradley Wright-Phillips. That would have enabled him to pay off all of the £500,000 in tax debt that has accumulated since HMRC started chasing the last lot.

Unfortunately, Wright-Phillips failed his medical at Reading and if there is one owner in football who isn't going to buy a nice runner with gremlins under the bonnet it is Auto Trader founder John Madejski.

Without BWP's cheque, Ridsdale will only be able to pay half of the new debt next week, although he is confident the rest will be found soon. The former Leeds United, Barnsley and Cardiff City controversialist is also optimistic HMRC can be persuaded to wait for their £250,000 without the formality of issuing another winding-up petition.

What can be done with Wright-Phillips - a luxury item at Home Park who needs a rest, not surgery, but is out of contract this summer - is another headache entirely. Manager Peter Reid may have to get used to playing without his most potent weapon.

But whatever Wright-Phillips does for the next few months, Ridsdale is adamant the immediate HMRC threat has gone. Short-term panic avoided, batten down the hatches for the medium-term storm. Few at Home Park are talking long-term anymore.

Which brings me back to Kagami, the owner of 38% of the Devon team and, erm...a business that imports second-tier US food brands (think Rola-Cola, not Coca-Cola).

OK, that's clearly not the Japanese businessman's entire story - there are a few clippings about investments in Korean technology and Osaka property, and some references to his more successful brother, Toshio - but we are feeding on scraps, a situation not helped by his refusal to speak to the media in Japan or even visit the UK.

What we do know is Argyle was sold to Kagami, and Kagami was sold to Argyle, on the flakiest premise: the Pilgrims would provide a stage for Japanese football talent and that would bring the pleasures of Plymouth to the Far East. Throw in the prospect of Premier League football, a redeveloped Home Park and World Cup matches in 2018, and Yasuaki's yer uncle.

Argyle manager Peter Reid

Argyle manager Peter Reid has been a dignified and steadying presence during a troubled season

This plan was cooked up by Argyle's chief operating officer Tony Campbell, a local businessman and club fan, and an old associate of his called George Synan, a Japanese-based American who is now a Home Park director.

Kagami's eyes, ears and occasional mouthpiece, Synan appears to have sold this pup to his boss in early 2007. Those July meeting discussion points make it clear a "Far Eastern consortium" had been talking to the club for six months, during which time no effort was made to look elsewhere or advertise the club's interest in new investment.

A further eight months passed before Kagami was confirmed as the proud owner of 20% of Argyle. Fifteen months later, he increased that holding and formed a "New World" partnership with Sir Roy Gardner and Keith Todd to take control of the club. What they promised was a 46,000-seat stadium and Premier League football, what they delivered was relegation, record losses and the threat of liquidation.

Throughout this period, Kagami has failed to put a single yen into the business, despite repeated promises to the contrary.

So what's the lesson to this story?

Due diligence is a two-way street and caveat emptor goes both ways, as fans of Portsmouth can readily testify and supporters at Blackburn, Charlton Athletic, Hull City, Liverpool and Sheffield Wednesday (to name recent examples) will be praying the custodians of their clubs remembered.

Ridsdale has told Kagami he must put in £2m to get Argyle to the summer, when a more root-and-branch restructuring can take place. Any less and there is a real risk his shares will be worth even less than the £1 they are effectively worth now. Kagami has communicated he understands this and will provide four £500,000 payments over a four-month period.

The first of those payments was due at the end of December. It did not arrive.

Now really is the time for Argyle to see the colour of Kagami's money - a million by the end of this month or Wright-Phillips' knee will be as inconsequential as David Beckham's blister.

As well as my blogs, you can follow me when I'm out and about at


  • Comment number 1.

    "That last source of revenue that has been by far the most fruitful: the transfers of Craig Noone (to Brighton & Hove Albion), Reda Johnson (Sheffield Wednesday) and George Donnelly (Fleetwood Town) have brought in over £500,000."

    I realise that the quality of the playing squad is probably the least of Argyles problems right now, but can they really not sell their players to clubs placed higher in the league structure than Fleetwood Town?

  • Comment number 2.

    The problem is Matt, although the squad has a minimal number of players now, a lot of Argyle consider a lot of what we've got left as "deadwood". The likes of Larrieu, MacLean (although out on loan), Seip, Fallon (although out on loan)...and many others. Whilst all are decent enough players questionably, their wages rack up so much of a wage bill that no clubs want to pay a fee for them because their demand's are enough as it is.

    It's a vicous cycle that's a problem that needs to be sorted else we will go into 'liquidation' - which itself sounds like some kind of cleaning product.

    How would you sort it Matt?

  • Comment number 3.

    Northernsuperspur (1) - Yep, that's got to hurt a bit but you're right, it's not really what Argyle fans should be worrying about at the moment. It's also worth noting that Donnelly had been on loan at Stockport for some time and it had been expected for them to buy him. Fleetwood, however, are one of a number of non-league teams with a bit of a cash to spend.

    @hris (2) - You've just outlined the dilemma that all clubs in Plymouth's position face, how to get cash neutral (ie stop losing money) ASAP when your most expensive items (the players) are on contracts you can no longer afford (if ever, in many cases) and cannot break. The only thing you can do is sell them or loan them out (Plymouth had eight out on loan before Christmas). Until their contracts run out, you can't even give them away. All that Plymouth can do is realise the assets they can sell (the three already gone, perhaps BWP for a reduced price, maybe Fallon too) and hold on for the summer when the likes of Larrieu are out of contract and can be released.

    When Southend were relegated last season, for example, they released all out-of-contract players and gave free transfers to others who would normally have commanded fees. They started pre-season with half a dozen players and effectively conducted an X Factor process to find a squad. It was very painful but administration was just about avoided. I can Plymouth going through a similar process. I also wonder if Reid will be around next season. He's on a Championship wage. That's just not sustainable at Home Park for the immediate future.

    But to end on a more optimistic note, the Plymouth Argyle Supporters Trust has been officially launched and holds its first meeting in the Guildhall tomorrow. I urge all fans to get behind it as it is times like this that STs can be crucial for the survival of a community asset. Good luck to all involved.

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    Argyle have been my second team since spending my hols there in the 60s and it saddens me to see them in such dire straits. Having seen my own team just survive their dice with liquidation a few short weeks ago, I can only hope and pray that Argyle survive, but I suspect the best they can hope for will be some semblance of a squad left for a long (and probably unsuccessful) fight against relegation.

    It saddened me to see so few supporters there against SWFC this season, but at least we gave them 3 points. However, it would appear to be a familiar deadly cycle: big debts, low revenue, no investment, sell players, struggle on the field.

    I now know what it feels like to have optimistic thoughts now that SWFC can have a stronger squad, but long term I still wonder what the future holds. Sadly Argyle do not have the same potential to attract investment as we did.

    Now for the bad news: my third team is Bristol City and during the summer I commented that they seemed to be trying to buy the dream. Prior to the recent cup tie with SWFC, I read in the local paper that City are £12m in debt. Matt, perhaps City need a bit of investigation?

  • Comment number 6.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 7.

    I really don't see why Peter Ridsdale deserves credit for overseeing the sale of the club's best players. He may have 'insisted' on cash up front but that will have been factored into the sale prices - which were hardly stellar for players of Noone's quality. I understand Ridsdale's usual modus operandi is to speak 'openly' to certain members of the press in exchange for positive coverage. Given the insights about the (lack of) Kagami funding and the fairly sunny assessment of PR in this and at least one of his other blogs, my guess is Matt Slater is one of the privileged few. I shall watch the degree of critical scrutiny to which PR is subjected going forward with interest.

  • Comment number 8.

    firstly i'd like to say romain larrieu wouldn'd leave because he's also gaolkeeping coach aswell which is why crudginton is chief scout...

    i personally think the problems started as soon as paul sturrock returned he had proven that he cannot manage at championship level (where argyle WERE at tat point) as proven at swfc.
    he over spent on players just not good enough for tat level and sld the best players to cheaply in my personal oppinion i go to argyle wenever there home and the players/deadwood thats left from luggy's reign just don't know how to play passing football or be patient with the play.
    although i admit mackie,noone,reda johnson & bwp were good signings.i also think jason puncheon was a good signing but why the hell they let him go i'll never know.

  • Comment number 9.

    I suppose this means that I need to think about ordering a shirt for this season - it could be the last ever. Living so far away (London) and being a referee myself I don't get to see Argyle, just their results. But if I don't get one before the end of the month everything might be over and I'll never get one...

    Still, at least I don't live in Japan, and Argyle do occasionally see some of my money!

  • Comment number 10.

    As a Notts County fan, this is all very familiar. Despite promotion, we had several players on stellar contracts and unfortunately, had to give them free transfers. For example, Kasper Schmeical was given away to leeds when he is clearly worth a lot of cash. All lower league clubs should take note when signing players on big bucks. I fear for Plymouth, as we have similar tales each month, and they don't seem to bee able to come up with an answer to the cash-flow problem.
    I hope they do, but fear for them.

  • Comment number 11.

    Good of you to tell the story to the masses Matt.

    When we were experiencing our good times in the first half of the last decade, the club was run prudently by Mr Stapleton, him having limited resources himself, turning over a small profit, and all was good with the world. The problems began, the timing you pinpoint, when fans became restless at merely consolidating a position in the Championship, and demanding investment to chase the Premier League "dream", and the cash. Mr Stapleton could go no further, and the foreign led team came in with promises galore - for them, gambling on England getting the World Cup and Plymouth the investment that would come with being a host city. We know how that ended, and now they appear simply not interested. All in all, this has proved a complete disaster.

    We basically got above oursleves, mortgaged the clubs future with wage bills beyond our means, and when the investment didn't materialise, and even worse, the relegation meant a slash to TV money, we were screwed financially.

    The TV money and parachute payments are grossly uneven, and for any club chasing this dream its a high risk gamble, and I doubt we will be the last to fail. I just hope we can get to the end of season, avoid another relegation, clear out the high earners and start rebuilding. It's going to be a nervous few months while we see how things pan out...

  • Comment number 12.

    Chasing the dream has put us in the position we are in right now. Having watched Argyle for nearly 30 years now I can tell you that for a City the size of Plymouth, and the fact that a large number of supporters come from Cornwall where there is no League team, the support has always been poor in terms of numbers,fantastic away support even now, and too many apathetic so called fans who only turn up for the bigger games or while the team are doing well.

    Too many fair weather fans who jumped on the bandwagon following back to back promotions were not content with us establishing ourselves in the Championship and making sure we didn't go bankrupt by overspending. They wanted instant success and for the board to pay money we didn't have for better players who obviously command much higher wages.

    Paul Sturrock has been blamed for our current plight when all he was doing was picking up the pieces after Ian Holloway allowed a large number of our best players to leave, albeit for good money. These players like Dan Gosling, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, David Norris and Akos Busacky had to be replaced, but for small transfer fees. Thats why the replacements were signed for nominal fees but offered decent wages. When things went wrong and we started struggling, the attendances dipped and all of a sudden we had a large squad of players on wages we couldn't afford with the gates we were getting. I didn't hear anyone moaning when Sturrock tried to wheel and deal for players like Emile Mpenza on a free transfer but a big wage packet.

    Sturrock picked up players like Noone, Mackie, Damien Johnson and Bradley Wright Phillips for a pittance but now the bubble has burst we have had to offload them to get rid of their wages.

    Kagami isn't interested now that were struggling and in my opinion is never going to invest anything worthwhile and will be looking to dump us as soon as he can.

    We can only hope that Ridsdale isn't the devil he has always been portrayed and can find investment from somewhere, but how attractive a proposition are we now? Thank God for Reidy at the moment, top man who I believe was hoodwinked over the situation when he joined. just hope he stays to get us out of this mess.

  • Comment number 13.

    As a Torquay fan, a small bit of me would like to have the personality to gloat at how the mighty have fallen, but situations like this transcend club boundaries and rivalries. I've seen grown men openly cry on the terraces at (the rare) promotion and (more often) relegation. It's hard for outsiders to football to comprehend the depth of feeling behind teams, particularly (as I'd like to thing Argyle still are) 'local' sides, and it's difficult even for fellow fans to imagine the heartache, the fear implicit in situations where the club's very existence is threatened.

    I know football clubs run as a business, and financially they should operate as such. However, what a football club actually is, is so much more. The sheer amount of passion invested in them, what they mean to the people who support them sets them apart. I'm not sure what I'm getting at here, it just deeply saddens me that these owners can swan in and take apart something so special, so steeped in history - even tiny, non-league clubs have richer histories than most multi-national corporations - in a matter of months.

    I don't know what the solution to the rapidly rising demand for success at all levels of football is, with all the transfer fees and higher wages that they entail, but I'm pretty sure that rich foreign businessmen aren't the one-size-fits-all holy grail that they're made out to be. Supporter-owned clubs have hardly been a roaring success. Maybe the boring, tight-fisted regimes which put money first and performance on-pitch second will have their day?

  • Comment number 14.

    Good to see some real journalism on the BBC Sport page. As someone who grew up in Exeter and seeing how the club there was and now is, this is interesting reading. Thanks Matt.

  • Comment number 15.

    Not sure what may have made the moderators pull my last comment, but if you'd like to edit and cull anything you thought was inappropriate and re-post it, you have my permission.

    Re Matt's detailed and well researched article.

    When Todd went, and then Gardner, a substantial number of Argyle fans let out with a huge "good riddance." This made no sense. Who did these fans think kept the club afloat the past 18 months?

    Gardner, with some bona fide internationally-known business people, and Todd, pumped millions into the club in the last 18 months, apparently, in large part, simply because Kagami did not.

    They're gone now, still directors, apparently, but pushed aside, and it looks like the club's Plan A now includes Kagami coming through as saviour. But why he would pump in cash now with the World Cup off the table when he wouldn't pump in before is anyone's guess.

    Overall, Todd and Gardner out and Kagami and Synan in? That sounds like a bad trade.

  • Comment number 16.

    We have been constantly decieved since the take over from Paul Stapleton.
    Up to that time the club was on a relatively even keel then the great cash cow 'the World Cup,' was floating in front of our directors eyes and the mighty scramble to be in pole position took place when Gardiner ,Todd and Kagami could smell gold.
    However we committed a sad mistake in going back to a previously succesful manager who signed players on exceessive salaries for this {wilderness} poor paying area. So the World Cup came and went and the mighty Gardiner did run up Outland Road with his tale between his legs, the same man who sold out Manchester United to be in debt forever. What a successful Chairman he turned out to be getting to the ground very infrequently as for the Japanese very seldom seen although his photograph is displayed in the Boardroom to remind visitors who he is. I have been very sceptical about Peter Risdale but after today we look a good bet for the Conference and oblivion.

  • Comment number 17.

    btw you do know Matt that kagami means mirror in Japanese?

  • Comment number 18.

    Great to see some scrutiny of events at HP. Am I the only one worried by

    "the Argyle "group of companies" (of which there are a dizzying number)".

    Have we been taken over by a band of property speculators?

  • Comment number 19.

    Why is Ridsdale always there when a club gets into deep deep trouble? Is he an anti-Superman or something?

  • Comment number 20.

    Thanks for a good post keeping me updated with events back home. It's an horrendous situation which seems to stem from exceptionally poor general management - no forward planning or vision, and a scary concept of financial planning and business development. If it takes bringing in a consultant to suggest getting payment up front for player sales so be it, but I'm not going to give Peter Ridsdale a round of applause - it's hardly rocket science.

    People are always keen to lay blame with the first team manager or fans. However, a first team manager will spend what he is allowed. It's not his job to manage the organisation's finances nor are most coaches equipped with the skills to do so. A club will always have a core attendance with additional numbers dependent on performance. This is the nature of the business and financial planning should take this into account.

    If we get to the summer the next step should be to follow other clubs that have found themselves in similar situations and sell/release all players that the club cannot afford to employ. Norwich City started league one pre season a few years ago with barely 11 players. They built a squad of free transfers and low fees and ended up getting promoted.

    The next step should then be to hire a good general manager and review the club's investors.

    I will not be holding my breath though.

  • Comment number 21.

    Curious to see that some Argyle fans still cling to the delusion that all was okay when Stapleton was in charge. Far from letting players go, Holloway was presented at the start of his second season with a lower player budget than he was given at the beginning of his first. He was also told that he had to sell players who he wished to keep such as Dan Gosling. Why? The name of the game was fattening the goose to make it look tastier to some people in Japan. Not such a good metaphor but you know what I mean.

    It would be interesting to know Matt, since you seem to be able to find out things that the Evening Herald and Radio Devon can't get a sniff of, whether any of the money that the Directors received from the sale of their shares was re-invested in the club. Rumour has it that Stapleton immediately spent his proceeds on a new house on the coast. And if anything was invested, was it truly invested? Or were loans extended to Argyle and if so at what sort of interest rates?

    One other thing to note is that not only did the Stapleton crew focus exclusively on Kagami, they are said to have actually turned down an offer of investment from a group of businessmen (all Argyle supporters) that is thought to have been worth about £5 million. If that is true, it wasn't their most shrewd decision.

    Fast forward to where we are now and Ridsdale seems to be doing a sterling job. It's not just the size of the hole that will put people off investing, however, it's the complexity of the structures created so unnecessarily by the present Board. I hazard a guess that our best chance of getting money in involves, among other things, the present Board departing the scene.

  • Comment number 22.

    Bloated wages at Plymouth could be because potential players and their wives or girlfriends see Plymouth as one stop before America.

    If you play for Argyle you have long boring traveling time to contend with,a long time on the road,more than any other club,hence the wages.

  • Comment number 23.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 24.

    Matt: Isn't there something called a "fit and proper persons" test that must be passed before someone can own a team? How do people like this Kagami character manage to pass it? And who is to blame for that?

  • Comment number 25.

    sad to see Plymouth in such a mess but saldy you aren't the first and wont be the last what a pity management teams of football clubs don't learn from History.

    I wonder what Ken Bates and the Leeds fans views are about Peter Risdales management and accountancy style ?

  • Comment number 26.

    Afternoon all, apologies for radio silence over the weekend, I took a break from sport and ended up going for walks and watching things like Zen with the wife. Won't do that again. Some quick replies to your questions/points:

    Jannerbud (4 & 6) - Keep plugging away, the mods will let you through eventually!

    Caistorowl (5) - Good shout re: BCFC...another team caught up in the 2018 debacle.

    Fred76 (7) - You make a fair point, the money raised by Ridsdale's player sales isn't spectacular by any means. But it is pretty good. Don't forget, there isn't much cash out there (although the Darren Bent deal is making me wonder), particularly below the top 30 teams or so. Actually selling a player for a worthwhile fee is quite an achievement. And the thing to remember about Argyle's position is that everybody knows they need the money - their plight couldn't be more obvious - so I would argue £300K up front (and don't forget, most transfer payments are phased over a 12-24 month period) is a pretty good piece of business. Like the Johnson and Donnelly deals. But I appreciate where you are coming re Ridsdale: he's done a reasonable job so far but let's not forget all that has gone before...and trust me, I haven't forgotten that either.

    In regard to the Rids' circle of trust point, all I can say is that I met him for the first time last year when he was in court with Cardiff (I was there covering Pompey) and spoke to him very briefly. He wouldn't have remembered me at all. I then tracked him down a couple of months ago to ask him about Charlton and again he answered my question without any major indication that he knew who I was. Our first proper meeting was in December when I interviewed him for BBC News and I have since spoken to him a couple of times on the phone. I don't know if I'm one of his chosen conduits yet but I'm pretty sure he hasn't told me any fibs yet. I'll remain on my toes.

  • Comment number 27.

    jones (8) - The where it all started to go wrong argument is one I've heard at least a dozen times in the last few weeks and I haven't really got a firm view on it, mainly because I haven't been following the club's fortunes for that long. What I will say is that a number of people who know Sturrock well say he was poorly treated by the club, a situation made worse by his own failing health. I've heard on pretty good authority that some of the big contracts dished out where done over his head and he felt very undermined by the hiring of Mariner.

    Dorfkots (9) - Buy a shirt. It can only help.

    Geoff (10) - Of course, Notts Co, what a remarkable episode that was and a very important lesson for all supporters trusts...even good guys, with great intentions, get hoodwinked sometimes.

    TheRabbi (11) - You make a good point about parachute payments and the overall distribution of TV's grossly unfair and completely skews competition in the Football League. I worry that clubs will continue to make the same mistakes as Argyle for as long as they have to compete with teams recently relegated from the PL.

    greenjock (12) - I'm glad you raised the issue of attendances and the club's fanbase as it's something that keeps coming up when I talk to people connected to the club. I keep hearing about 'potential' and 'the massive catchment area' but then I look at the stats. I think Argyle averaged 16,000 for the 1st year back in the second flight but that number fell every year until your last season when it was more like 13,000. That doesn't suggest the kind of support that could sustain a 46,000-seat stadium to me.

    hadesdaman (13) - Nice to see a bit of ecumenical spirit: after all, what would we do if our favourite team's main rivals weren't around anymore? Who would we boo? I also understand your point about supporter-owned clubs not making a huge breakthrough in this country but there are a couple of good examples out there, one of them is another near neighbour of yours!

  • Comment number 28.

    boils (14 & 17) - Thanks and no I didn't...I might have to attempt some kind of pun about that if I write about Argyle again. And I fear I will be writing about them again in February.

    Jannerbud (15) - Well done! Not sure what you said before to upset the mods but that seems reasonable enough. Very reasonable actually.

    Arthur48 (18) - Good question. I suggest you do a search for Mastpoint, Home Park Properties Ltd, Home Park Services Ltd, Mastpoint Finance etc etc.

    jmhl (19) - Perhaps, although I don't think we can blame him for this one.

    PilgriminAfrica (20) - I think Plymouth will attempt something to the Norwich situation this summer, they'll have to. Clear the decks and start again. This time on (hopefully) a League One budget.

    macgreen (21) - I'm glad you raised the opposing view to the Stapleton era as I've heard similar things before. In fact, some people I've spoken to have laid a considerable amount of blame at his door (whilst acknowledging his hard work and affection for the club). Those people tend to say the rot set in when the likes of Peter Jones, Nic Warren and Michael Foot left the board.

    OK, that's probably enough. Thanks for reading. Matt

  • Comment number 29.

    Lets face it, without Wright-Phillips we are doomed, unless we get some other decent players. With the transfer embargo that's not possible, so to sell our best player is simply preposterous.

    I think we could raise the extra £300k or so by selling a different player that has slightly less impact on a weekly basis. Then, when the debts are paid and the embargo lifted, renew Shaun WP's contract, get some semi decent players on free transfers and Bob's your Uncle! Maybe we could survive in League One!

  • Comment number 30.

    Think you will find its Bradley not Shaun! Typical Argyle fan - Cornish!

    One team in Devon - Up the City

  • Comment number 31.

    Without question the most honest article I've read on Argyle in recent times. I have written to the board stating many of these quandries myself, unsurprisingly without reply I might add.

    Perhaps less surprising is that this lack of response is against the board's customer charter.

    Not only is their due diligence poor, but their adherence to their own corporate governance structure is as weak as the club's financial position!

    Well done for this article, very, very compelling reading and testiment to why the stands (and Argyle coffers consequently...) are empty.


  • Comment number 32.

    CaistorOwl(5) and Matt, as a City fan (all be it, one who is an adopted Yorkshireman long dislocated from Bristol) we do have worries about the £12 million loss that we've alledgedly had to swallow in the last year. However, there are significant differences between us and Plymouth. Firstly, our chairman has put his hand in his pocket- repeatedly- to finance everything from player purchases to legal costs in our long-running stadium saga. While we're under no illusions that Mr Lansdown will do this indefintely, his oft stated goal is to make the club sustainable and the stadium project is all part of that. It's slightly unfair of you Matt to say that we've been 'hit by the world cup debacle' because our stadium project was no way dependant on the world cup. Our failure to win the 2018 world cup simply means we're building a 30000 seater stadium as a pose to a 42000 seater one. However, if you felt the need to write an article on the ridiculous hoops the club are currently having to jump through in order to provide the southwest with with an international-class sports and music venue then that would be much appreciated- much of the aforementioned debt has been incurred as a result of the obstacles thrown up by a small minority of 'NIMBYs' who don't want to see progress in a part of the country which has a tradition of looking gift horses in the mouth.

    On the subject of Plymouth, its very sad to see a club which we have a history of friendly (or sometimes not so friendly!) rivallry with struggling to this extent. I think the current fashion for trying to sell your club to the first foriegn businessman who comes along promising no debt and massive transfer kittys is dangerous- even the empires that Chelsea and Man City are attempting to build are built on shifting sands and the inflated wages paid by these clubs does have a knock on effect in the lower leagues. Plymouth seem to have been another club who shot for the stars and missed by some considerable margin. At some point in the near future a major professional club is going to go the wall, but i sincerely hope that it is not Plymouth

  • Comment number 33.

    Can anyone explain to me how we accrued a further £500,000 debt to HMRC in such short a period of time? Also, how do these newly formed companies(that were formed by two errant and missing directors) find themselves with such large tax bills (surely not all to do with the failed 2018 bid!)

  • Comment number 34.

    Looks like Plymouth's owner has been sending the same smoke and mirrors (and accompanying lack of cash) that Portsmouth's did last season. You will be very lucky if this doesn't end in tears

  • Comment number 35.

    Like Portsmouth's owners last season it sounds like this guy doesn't actually have any money to invest. This could well end in tears

  • Comment number 36.

    As someone who lived in Plymouth between 1972 to 1977 I have always had a soft spot for the club. I really hope this situation resolves itself but this does highlight the perils of getting foreign investors into a club. These people have no links to the community so don't understand what a professional club means to the residents and supporters and as such feel no real obligation to the community.

  • Comment number 37.

    Good luck Argyle from a Leeds (& Celtic) fan. And my sympathies regarding a certain PR, that's not your manager! Though don't rate him overly. But if he can keep you up, it would be a miracle.

    And not wishing to sound patronising, the geographical factor really can't help?

  • Comment number 38.

    Plymouth Argyle - the most westerly club in England - over 110 years of history. Are in terrible trouble, off the pitch (as well as on it). Due to money men, buying shares in the club, in the sole hope of winning the World Cup bid.

    We are due in court next week to hear if we will be liquidated. Our best players have been sold, to help pay running costs and money owed to the taxman. The supporters have contributed to to paying the wages of the non playiing staff, Peter Reid (the Manager) hasnt been paid for month's, but still paid for the heating oil, to keep the office staff warm.

    The players havent been paid for month's, we have a transfer embargo, so players leaving the club, but we cannot replace them. We have a Japanese major share holder (38%) who as promised funds to the club, many times from his office in Japan, but none have arrived!! The situation is critical, I ask ALL football supporters of whichever club you support to click on the following links, to help save my club - Plymouth Argyle. This club means so much to so many people, through generations of families. It could so easily be YOUR club, being taken over by people only interested in property and lining their own pockets, while putting nothing into the club. Please follow these 2 links and please sign the petition, thank you.

  • Comment number 39.

    In the 50's and 60's along with my dad I would take the train from Totnes, walk across the park to Home Park and enjoy watching Argyle. Years later I was there when Plymouth played Santos of Brasil, a team that included the legendary Pele. Argyle won, as I recall 3 - 2.

    Since then I have had to watch from a distance, my Saturday evenings cheer by seeing another Plymouth win. But sadly, these have been few and far between in the past couple of years. And now there is a chance of Plymouth bein relegated or even ceasing to exist.

    One of the reasons for this situation was the setting up a few years ago of the Premier League. Teams outside this league now have little chance of getting anywhere. The money is all heading one way, to the 'big 6.'

    Just look at the past days. Fifty million pounds, thirty-five million etc etc. Then there is the sheer greed of Rooney, a player who is not as good as he thinks he ism and he is on £250,000 a week. Then there are the foreign owners who have no interest in English football. The top teams are full of foreign players and we wonder why our national squad is useless.

    So, goo luck Plymouth. I hope you get out of the hole soon.

  • Comment number 40.

    For those like djg145 and willieeckerslike, I've found a link that describes the various companies that own Argyle, Home Park etc, at
    But it remains a mystery to me how for instance Home Park Properties (which we are told doesn't actually own the ground) has a debt of £260k. And who does own the ground now?


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