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The view from inside the Plymouth squad

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Paul Fletcher | 06:05 UK time, Thursday, 29 September 2011

In September 2008 Plymouth Argyle, then a Championship side, signalled their ambition of pushing towards the Premier League by signing Belgium international striker Emile Mpenza following his release from Manchester City.

While City, bankrolled by their Abu Dhabi owners, have gone on to assemble one of the most expensive squads in history, crippling off-the-field problems at Home Park have left Argyle with a small squad of old heads and willing youngsters scrapping for the club's Football League survival.

"When I think about how we fought and worked so hard to get the club from League Two into the Championship and to see how quickly we have gone right back down, it is very difficult," said French goalkeeper Romain Larrieu, who has been at the club since 2000 and is their longest-serving player at Home Park.

"Considering the size of the hole that apparently exists in our finances, I do not even think that we got to live the dream. I have been through it all and I do not know what happened. Funnily enough, nobody has admitted to me that they made mistakes."

Plymouth is a familiar footballing story of financial mismanagement and a club living beyond its means. There have been winding-up orders and visits to the High Court and the club have been in administration since March.

Plymouth goalkeeper Romain Larrieu has been at the club since 2000

Larrieu has endured the frustration of the club's slide down into League Two. Photo: Getty Images

Every month this year the players have had to accept at least a partial deferment of their wages. There have been months when they have not received any at all.

"I try to detach myself from it but it drives you mad," added Larrieu, who is now acting assistant manager at the club following the dismissal of Peter Reid on 18 September.

"If this had happened when I was younger I would be in very big trouble. Some months we have been given 20% or 30% and if you are on a good contract then that is still a decent wage, but for some of the younger players that does not leave them with enough to pay their rent.

"There have been so many deferred payments that I could honestly not tell you how much I am owed."

Larrieu laughed when asked what had been the lowest point over the last few months, pointing out that there were so many contenders. Eventually he opted for the day he found out the club were preparing to enter administration and had been issued with a 10-point deduction.

It was Monday 21 February and the squad had been at Home Park before heading off to Brighton for a league fixture the following day. At the same time there had been a meeting of the board at the stadium, during which it was decided to serve notice of the club's intention to appoint an administrator.

"Nobody from the board came out to tell us," added Larrieu. "We found out watching the news on the coach. Out of respect, we should have been told directly, we should not have found out that way."

That points deduction left Argyle eight adrift of safety at the bottom of League One. Perhaps not surprisingly, they lost 4-0 at Brighton.

During his time in charge former boss Reid sold his 1986 FA Cup runners-up medal to raise funds that he used to help pay the rent of some of his younger players.

He also paid the club's heating bill. There have been loans from the Professional Footballers' Association, numerous auctions, fund-raising events, bucket collections and donations as supporters of the club rallied to keep them alive.

Larrieu is keen to stress how difficult it has been for the backroom staff, the people who work in the office and have found the months of uncertainty with little or no pay incredibly difficult. He is also keen to emphasise how fantastic the Argyle's supporters have been. It is obvious that he cares deeply about the club and is desperate for it to survive.

"It has been a case of one broken promise after another and it has been very difficult on all the staff," he said. "As players we have never used the situation as an excuse but whoever says it does not play on your mind is an idiot."

Mpenza is long gone and last season ended in the club's second relegation in two seasons. The players that remained thought that a takeover would have been completed by the time they returned from holiday in the summer but the season started and nothing had been done.

Reid, who had to sell or release in the region of 40 players during his 15 months in charge, was left with only three senior players over the summer in Larrieu, Carl Fletcher and Onismor Bhasera. He attempted to bolster his threadbare squad at the end of August by bringing in defender Simon King from Gillingham on loan. King, whose wages are currently being paid by his parent club, was desperate to play regular football again after two injury-ravaged years.

"The first day I had a chat with the gaffer, who told me about the training session we were about to have," said King. "But the next thing I knew I was in a players' meeting discussing whether we would go on strike and not play against Burton the following Saturday. I was like 'what is going on here?' but if I had missed yet another pay day I'm sure I would have felt the same."

Fletcher, now in temporary charge at the club, said at the time: "You would not treat your worst enemy the way we have been treated." It was rumoured that some players were so broke they were considering selling their houses and cars.

The players called off the strike after they were promised 40% of their September salary and, almost two months on, there does appear to be hope for Argyle. A takeover by Devon-based hotelier James Brent has been agreed in principle with the club's joint administrators. Brent has requested a meeting with the players to explain his plans, a move that prompted Larrieu to wryly observe that "we will finally have some first-hand information."

On the pitch, the club won their first league fixture of the season last Saturday, a 2-0 defeat of Macclesfield. The starting XI against Macc had just four players aged 26 or over. Goalscorer Warren Feeney had the distinction of being the only player in his 30s.

Prior to that game the club had taken only one point from their opening nine games. King had noticed that the poor form was starting to affect some of the young players; their heads would drop when Argyle fell behind.

In the dressing after Saturday's victory there was a sense of quiet satisfaction. The players shook hands and congratulated each other. There is much hard work left to be done but for the club's battered and bruised players there is hope that better times lie ahead.

"So many players have been and gone over the last few years and they did not have the time to see what this club can become," added Larrieu.

"But now we have turned a corner. This week is better than last week and each day takes us nearer to being a normal football club again."

You can follow me throughout the season at



  • Comment number 1.

    All respect to Peter Reid for his efforts to help Argyle survive. I think giving leadership of the playing side to the senior players is the right thing to do at this stage, if they get through this they will have a close-knit young squad to build on. And we all want to see that. Go Greens the westcountry is behind you!

  • Comment number 2.

    As an Exeter City fan there is always certain amount of pleasure to be gained from seeing Plymouth suffer but here, perhaps not.
    There does seem to be a genuine effort made by some people (Peter Reid, all of the back room staff and support staff as well as the remaining players for example) to try & dig the club out of the mire which hopefully will suffice.
    If they manage to stay in Div 2 at the end of the season that will be a brilliant result.
    With the furore going on about a certain Argentinian, perhaps Man City could donate his "fine" to the Argyle?? As for his wages, just think what two weeks of that would do for the club's finances. Ho hum

  • Comment number 3.

    Mr Tevez ought to read this, while he refuses to play yet still getting paid £200k a week. Good luck to all at Plymouth, I hope they survive.

  • Comment number 4.

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

  • Comment number 5.

    Agree with 2&3, Mr Tevez should read this and feel ashamed and embarrassed. I hope someone at city reads this article and uses the fine money to pay argyles wages for a month or two....but I doubt it!

    It would be a nice gesture if my team played argyle in a mid week friendly considering we have no European football.

  • Comment number 6.

    This blog really shines a light on the reality of football outside of the Premier League bubble. Its shocking that a company can be run in such a way as to not be able to pay its employees, and yet carry on trading and taking money.

  • Comment number 7.

    Bolton fans may not be having a good time of it at the moment but I've always had a soft spot for Reidy so have been keeping an eye on this situation. I've seen so many clubs that used to give us a pasting go out of existance (Scarborough, Aldershot, Newport County etc) that we have to be thanful for small mercies. I really hope Plymouth don't follow suit and hope the takeover will allow them to stabilise.

    I've seen fourth division football and whilst it may not be pretty it's far better than no football at all. Good luck.

  • Comment number 8.

    Can only hope that Brent can help to stabilise the free-fall we've been in in recent years. There's been some shocking mismanagement behind the scenes and the players have been the ones that have suffered above and beyond the call of duty.

  • Comment number 9.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 10.

    A portion of the TV revenue should be set aside for player salaries in such cases as Plymouth. It is the players that make the game what it is, NOT management. Players have very little input to the direction of management. There must be player representation if the game if it is to survive long term. Not too long ago professional golf was run by ametures and outside agencies to the detrement of the players. The players now run the tour in the USA and are playing for more money than ever before. The fans are happy, the players are happy, TV is happy, the sponsors are happy and more money is given to charity than ever. I realize that the average golf fan might be a little smarter than the football hooligan but change has to start somewhere. Football needs a few bright men such as Beckham to come forward and lead a negotiated movement for the benifit of the players and the game. Players must have input and fans must have input. Players are bought and sold like cattle, it becomes less and less possible to build team loyalty from the fan aspect. "The beautiful game" it was, when Billy Wright and Stanley Matthews played now it is a commodity. Time for a massive change!

  • Comment number 11.

    In the current economic climate I am amazed that a club has yet to go to the wall. They all seem to find a way to go into administration and be given a life line.

    The glaring gap is the lack of any support from the elite clubs in the PL. As businesses financial input maybe out of the question but friendlies etc could relieve the stress for so many clubs.

  • Comment number 12.

    Paul, again an unbelievably refreshing insight.
    As much as I am sorry for the Plymouth fans and players, not sure that the correct solution would be to "bail" out the club by paying the players salaries by someone else. Then each club would be offering wages even if they cannot afford them. And that's what got Argyle in to this situation in the first place. Going to administration is the best solution. Something like a "cleansing" process. Crossing fingers that everything would work out fine, but i guess no need to that seeing the dedication of some people there.

  • Comment number 13.

    If anyone should be supporting the Plymouth players (and other staff) it's not the Premier League clubs, but rather the Premier League Players, as they're the ones who've benefitted from the football financial revolution. Maybe Gordon Taylor should be asking the superstars for more money, a doubling of contributions from PL players to help pay the salaries of those less fortunate than themselves.

  • Comment number 14.

    As a lower league fan myself, I do sympathise with the plight of all Argyle fans in this time of need. I think the fact so many players have stayed shows how close they are all are.

    However, I do object to how clubs handle administration, and use it as an opportunity not to fulfil their financial commitments. Perhaps I would feel differently if it was my team, Colchester, but I do think a couple of clubs have to go to the wall for others to realise that financial mismanagement will REALLY out the clubs future at risk.

    This is in part a different situation, but if clubs cannot pay their bills (including player wages), they should not be able to trade. Administration has become a 'get out' clause for clubs who overextend themselves in the persuit of success.

    Nobody wants to see any club go to the wall, but until one or 2 do, no football administrators will take administration seriously.

  • Comment number 15.

    i love reading mr fletcher's blogs and this is another good one. the club has suffered massively this year, i feel sorry for everyone there esp the staff who are basically earning nothing. i never do understand why the clubs get punished so much. isn't it about time that the people responsible for causing the problem were brought to a head to answer why it happened? shouldn't they also be punished in some sort of way?
    i really hope that plymouth are helped out soon and can get back to concentrating on winning on the pitch rather than wonder where the next penny is coming from.

  • Comment number 16.

    This is a disgraceful situation.

    It's the players who are suffering here, especially those younger ones Paul mentions with small salaries.

    Why people can defend a club for allowing this situation to arise is beyond me. The players should all walk out and find new clubs. Maybe then clubs would think twice before digging this hole for themselves.

  • Comment number 17.

    If I ran a business like this no bank would help me. Why is it not the same here where it is obvious the owners have no idea how to balance the books? While it will be hard on fans & staff alike the time has come for clubs to either sink or swim. Not be given extra time to pay bills, wages etc but to be told pay up now or sell out. And if no buyer who can clear debts & ensure bills & wages are paid on time & regularly comes along then it should be wound up. The time for sympathy for football clubs is long gone. Get your act(s) together or go to the wall like any other type of business.

  • Comment number 18.

    Being Plymouth born and bred and a fan for over 6 decades, it is refreshing and encouraging to read so many of the comments on this site, while the dream of premiership football is one thing, another but much more important is to have a league club at all. We were doing very nicely thank you for nearly 125 years, until the greedy fatcats came along and tried to exploit the possiblity of our ground being used for a world cup venue. Whilst they are willing to come in and milk you, where are they to help you out when wanting. I can recall at least one player on a five figure weekly fee raking in every week for around a year and not playing for more than an hour or two, a few weeks of his salary back to pay some of the current squad would be a decent gesture, but then fat cats and the overpaid prima donnas dont have decent gestures in their vocabulary.

  • Comment number 19.

    Previously I always used to agree with the sentiments of Liam (#17). Why should clubs be allowed to get away with it, surely it would be a wake up call to the whole football world if one or two decent sized clubs went bust? That was until all this happened at Argyle.

    The people responsible for the disgraceful mess that the club is in have now all left. Among them a knight of the realm no less, Sir Roy Gardner, who used to be Chairman of Manchester United. What they have left is a shell of a club, unpaid and demoralised staff and players and a fanbase who simply cannot understand how this was allowed to happen.

    It is not the fault of the players, staff or fans so why should we all suffer by allowing the club to go out of business? It is purely the fault of 7 disgraceful former board members. Surely they should be punished and not the club?

    What really makes it worse is that those 7 former board members will get a substantial amount of their money back as they were major creditors and would only agree to the CVA if such a deal existed. As I understand it, they will get a proportion of future TV money and repayments will increase as and when we go back up the leagues. The whole situation is sickening and will continue to happen at clubs up and down the country until the F.A and Football League get serious about who is allowed to own a football club and introduce proper regulation on how clubs should be run.

  • Comment number 20.

    A recent insurance advert had Paul whitehouse as an Argyle fan who was prepared to follow his team all over the country - "Newcastle away, it's a long ole poke, innit?". Whilst amusing with the "Green Ormy" chants, the ad was closer to the truth than peopel might think.

    My wife has relatives who are Argyle fans and who also follow their team through thin and thin to all ends of the country. And they are not alone. It would be a real shame if fans like these were deprived of a team to support because of appalling financial mamagement.

    Hopefully Mr Brent as a Devon based businessman who apparently wants to be involved at all levels is just what the club need.

    Champions League in 4 seasons time then? GREEN ARMY!!!

  • Comment number 21.

    Much sympathy for the players, little for the club.

    No business outside of football would even be allowed to try and continue with what has gone on there.


  • Comment number 22.

    Isn't Peter Ridsdale (the guy who was accused of misleading fans over season ticket money) still chairman here?

    Home Park was the first football ground I ever visited, back in the days of Bruce Grobellaar, and I'll always have a soft spot for Argyle. Let's hope Mr Brent isn't another shady asset stripper.

  • Comment number 23.

    Now then - thanks for your thoughts so far, all much appreciated.

    The hope is that the players - and the other staff at the club - will eventually get back the money they are owed. I'm not sure whether they think they will actually get it but Romain Larrieu for one has no idea how much he is owed.

    Larrieu went to France for his holidays this year - in part to save money. Even so, it would be very wrong to suggest that he was moaning about his predicament. He was keen to stress others had it far worse than him, particularly the office staff at the club.

  • Comment number 24.

    It's disgraceful in this day and age and with the technology to support transparent financial reporting that this should happen to any club. Plymouth Argyle have as near a monopoly on fans as Carlisle United, Newcastle United and Aberdeen - that is to say one club town/cities where there are a substansial participants of other sports but the football club is the biggest Plymouth's catchment area there's two decent rugby clubs and one other football club (and even that's in Exeter).

    I say as a Geordie, fair play for Peter Reid, for doing what he did especially for those who are certainly more vunerable at the club - it's mad that a manager would have to sell personal belongings and not for their own gain!

    What concerns me is though (and arguably players shouldn't have to worry about these matters) is that players accept salaries without consideration of the business that's supporting such a wage - I mean it might be OK for Plymouth to say they'd pay you as a player £5-6k per week but think how many fans do you know they get through the much money would your prospective club get via TV deals etc. If the club are saying something daft then ask yourself is it too good to be true?

    Sadly I think the issue is that there are too many clubs and not enough cash - I mean the top two division in this country should be 18 teams and then the next two 20 teams at most - after that North/South divisions. I feel sorry for the fans of clubs in adminstration as it's not exactly the fans fault (and I accept that administration is a mechanism for recovering businesses) but clubs should in some cases be allowed to go out of business so that fiscally responsible clubs down the pyramid can benefit - rather than Ridsdale and Bates' debt-driven vehicles.

  • Comment number 25.

    Mixed feelings about Club's in administration. As Herts-Green said it isn't the fault of the players/staff etc that a club goes into administration. It is the fault of the board and in most cases they tend to leave the clubs and just move onto something else without actually losing too much.
    While the Football League/FA are starting to do something about this (wage to revenue ratios), I think more needs to be done - eg introducing a type of Financial Fairplay rule so clubs cannot spend more than they earn. However I would allow investors to spend (donations not loans) what they like on transfers/infrastructure - so long as the club can afford the wages/upkeep costs).
    There should also be stronger rules about the boards. eg
    (i) If the club goes into administration they can be sued/are liable for the debts
    (ii) stronger fit and proper persons rules.
    (iii) Prevention of selling club assets (stadium etc) unless deal is shown to be heavily in clubs favour - I think I remember one where the club got a lump sum for the stadium (which was sold to the owner) but the rent it had to pay on it would have used that money up in something like 3 or 4 years!

    Without something serious being done I think we will continue to see administrations happening until a couple of clubs find they can't find a way out of the situation and actually dissappear forever.

  • Comment number 26.

    As a lifelong Plymouth Fan having seen some wonderful moments at Home Park.....12000 at a reserve match when Bill Nicholson gave Jimmy Greaves a run out after signing him for £99,000...The memorable night playing Pele's Santos and now the club is struggling to survive. I was very sad to see Peter Reid go, he has acted like no other manager would have through all this; I actually wrote to the Football League Managers after his sacking but no acknowledgement from them. It worried me that someone with Peter Risdale's track record could sack him. However we are where we are, and I wish the players and current management team all the very best in their attempts to keep this great club alive.
    Wouldnt it be nice if Argyle were to get back on their feet and become solvent, that they consider buying back Peter Reid's medal and presenting it back to him.

  • Comment number 27.

    the staff that run the club day to day like the tea lady to the receptionist to the office manager are the biggest victims/lossers of this. footballers can always find new clubs to go to but the office staff would struggle in the current job market.

    Best of luck Arygle. I hope Brent can steer the club in the right direction business and foobtall wise.

  • Comment number 28.

    I feel very sorry for the staff, the players and of course the fans of Plymouth. I'm not a Plymouth supporter but, As a football league fan, i would be gutted if Plymouth don't make it through this.

    I truly hope that this is sorted out soon, Best of luck.

  • Comment number 29.

    After writing my initial comment, I saw the item about the Northern Irish side offering Tevez a loan...hmmm...interesting idea?

  • Comment number 30.

    yeah carlos tevez should take a look at plymouth, then take a long, hard look at himself. i really feel for plymouth, as a leicester fan im realising for the first time what its like to be a 'rich' club, leicester have a massive squad we should send plymouth a couple of players on free loans!! i hope the takeover happens, and that the club can make the climb back to the championship again. much respect to all the players/staff there! :)

  • Comment number 31.

    I agree with most of what has been said, but I’d take a little issue with the idea that we spent beyond our means, we didn’t do a Leeds, Southampton, Portsmouth, etc. Our biggest transfer to date, I think, is still £750k. What we did do was to sell a few very good players and replace them with lots of pretty poor players.
    We were 6th in the Championship and playing some really good football, then Holloway left (to be replaced by Sturrock) and we sold around 4 or 5 of our key players within a few months. Sturrock then went and brought in some players that were poor, so he bought some more that were poor and then some more that were poor, etc Our squad ballooned to a stupid size with players on contract that we couldn’t offload and were stuck with. We were playing poor football and losing so fans drifted away but we were still paying lots of players wages. The result went bust!

    If you’re from Plymouth you’ll often hear the phrase typical Plymouth and typical Argo. Well in this case its true Argyle couldn’t even go bust properly! We went bust but never had the good times like Leeds, Southampton, Portsmouth, etc
    Typical Argo!

  • Comment number 32.

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

  • Comment number 33.

    It seems like we (Plymouth) only started spending beyond our means after our peak and in common with a number of other teams we've also suffered from other issues like having our good young players poached by more glamorous clubs, having to compete with parachute-payment funded clubs etc.. Not all of our recent signings were poor for us but a number were and we did seem to lose a lot of invested money when forced to sell off our best players cheaply. No one can really defend what happened but the system does seem to regularly throw up situations like this so perhaps some sort of reforms in governance are urgently needed.

    It's been humbling to consider what some people have been through to keep the club going and hopefully it was heartening for some of them at least to have seen the coachloads of fans from Brighton and other teams who turned up for the Fans Reunited event at our most recent home game.

  • Comment number 34.

    "(Plymouth's) starting XI against Macc had just four players aged 26 or over."

    My team - Crewe Alexandra - only have 3 players aged 26 or over in their entire First Team squad. This is not abnormal down here in League Two. Plymouth may have a high profile because they've been close to the brink recently, but there are plenty of teams hanging on in there by the skin of their teeth.

    What exactly is the point of League Two anyway? Teams plugging away merely to exist, with no hope of ever achieving anything. No-one is going to "do a Wimbledon" again; upward mobility in modern football is purely plutocratic.

    Crewe Alexandra are supposedly a model lower league club: focusing on youth development, playing good football, largely avoiding higher-wage journeyman pros, regularly selling on promising players for large fees. Yet the club has no money to spend on players. We released half a dozen experienced players last summer and filled the gaps with kids to reduce the wage bill. Mid-table mediocrity beckons. Indefinitely. How exciting. Should I just be glad my club are in better shape than poor Plymouth?

    There are too many professional football clubs in England; and when most of them have no ambition beyond simply surviving, doesn't it suggest that the whole set up needs addressing?

  • Comment number 35.

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

  • Comment number 36.

    Bringing in Peter Ridsdale is an indication of just how desperate PA must be. Why is this man allowed anywhere near a football club?

  • Comment number 37.

    It’s sad to see what has happened at Plymouth, but important we contextualise it properly.

    Plymouth are in trouble as they spent money they did not have to be successful. The solution to that problem isn’t to throw more money at the club to enable them to have players they cannot afford. The solution is for clubs to sign their players, enabling them to sign ever cheaper players and end up at the level they can sustain.

    It’s worth remembering that Plymouth are competing against sides who are spending within their means. Quite how they can get away with having a playing squad they cannot pay is beyond me. The rules should be that clubs are deducted 1 point for every day they are late in paying their staff – it might be Plymouth would be guaranteed relegation already, but that’s better than the prospect of them staying up while a side spending wisely go down.

    It is not the responsibility of the FA, Premier League or highly paid players to ensure that Plymouth’s players are paid and getting an injection like that is sending out the wrong message entirely. I would argue the PFA should have a fund set up which gives interest-free loans to players who aren’t being paid, which will prevent the players being penalised but continue the clubs debts effectively.

    The problem with Plymouth is not so much the income inequality in football denying them the funds to survive, but that the inequality has given them the incentive to aim far too high too fast. It’s not the lack of money in League Two which is killing them, but rather the race to get Premiership incomes.

    It cannot be nice for the clubs fans to be in this situation. But similarly we can’t send the message that it is ok to overspend, or prop up a side whose competitors have lived within their means, just because a club has a strong and rich history. Hopefully there is an answer to Plymouth’s problems. But finding a solution for saving this one club is essentially delaying the problem as Plymouth are likely, once saved, to be viewed as a potential Premiership side, with a good ground and wide potential fanbase, and find themselves aiming for the stars again in a decade’s time.

    Good luck to Plymouth and I hope they find a way out of their problems. I hope the Football League can also find a way of preventing these problems happening to clubs in future.

  • Comment number 38.

    Has PR Pete "The Saviour" Risdale had any of his wages deferred like the rest of the staff/players at Plymouth ? I doubt it. A concerned football fan, for any club that has PR "saving" it.

  • Comment number 39.

    There are two sides to ambition (not suggesting PA fans have done this). What about the vitriol dished out to many Chairman and Boards who are trying to run the clubs on shoe strings but the fans demand better players, greater ambition, better facilities and ultimately demand the Board pay out of their own pockets.

    There are far too many clubs and not enough players/managers/coaches who are good enough. Why do these people deserve a living from the game?

    A former manager was quoted the other day saying ' all I want is another chance with a few years stability and some money so I can build my team'. why should he be given money to build a team?! surely a manger with talent gets the best out of a team, thats what management is about, but somehow we believe you have to spend all the time.

    Players in FL2 earning £3000+ a week, Conference clubs spending hand over fist to get back into the FL, Conference players earning six figure incomes, Players below BSN earning 5 figure incomes, Cash strapped clubs being given money from 'helpful' fans of other clubs and the next day taking higher league players on loan! Nottingham Forest Board members paying out millions to balance the books.

    Stupidity has become the accepted norm in Football. Like a few have suggested some serious changes need to be made to the game, the Banks have gone pop, the housing Bubble has burst, when will the Football Bubble burst?

  • Comment number 40.

    Reply to 34 - Here, here....that's common sense talking to me - why should clubs below those regulary going in and out of administration be held back by clubs/owners who are fiscally irresponsible.

    To be honest I stick by the x2 18 team PL + Championship, x1 20 team L1, x2 20 team L2N and L2S (that's ridding us of the Blue Square Premier) and then regional divisions below that - clubs IMHO should be allowed no more than 6 months in adminstration before being withdrawn from the League and everyone the remaining games is a 3-0 win to the opposition and all clubs should open their books at the beginning of the season to a team of auditors to obtain a bond to play in that seasons fixtures - no bond and then immidiate relegation to 6 tiers below where you are currently which for most clubs would be immidiate amatuer status. Harsh but why should a team in Blue Square North or below that even, suffer because of teams like Pompey, Bradford City, Leicester City or in Scotland, Dundee.

  • Comment number 41.

    The problem with football in matters like this is the footballers contract system:

    The club has to keep paying the players wages set in the contract, whilst getting rid of all backroom staff.

    Isn't the problem more to do with a club trying to build on success. Whilst this is the obvious nature in business, a club has to be realistic and have a get out clause (worst case scenario).

    When the change arrives and the team starts to struggle (all lesser teams invaribly go through this) the crowds will start to diminish, however the players contract doesn't, and in all cases the players will carry on playing for the team on the decent wage (larrieu's words), whilst the younger players cannot afford the rent. Hardly all in it together.

    Surely a year on year contract is the obvious way forward for all League 1 & league 2 teams. There are so many players looking for a team that the transfer system in picking up these players is non-existent and at least that way they can't be tied to an contract they have to honour to the detriment of others.

  • Comment number 42.

    The trouble with football can be summed in one simple sentence. Money in hands of prima donna mainly uneducated footballers means trouble trouble and more trouble. The quicker the bubble bursts the better.

  • Comment number 43.

    Dundee FC had a -25 point penelty last season and survived admin and stayed in the same division.
    Here`s hoping Plymouth can do the same!

  • Comment number 44.

    As i was reading this article it felt like it was happening to me. I really do feel for all that it concerns. im a big footy fan myself and a Manchester City fan to. In a perfect world, wouldnt it be a massive gesture from Manchester City. To donate Tevez's 2 weeks wages to Plymouth. That would make me happy. Im not sure if they have the pulled his wages for the his suspension though. Tevez if i had the power, you would be on community service. visiting the people who have nothing apart from the shirt on their backs and the dirt under their finger nails. be ashamed be very ashamed.

  • Comment number 45.

    A compelling well written pathos-inducing story and a privilege to read.

  • Comment number 46.

    The greatest crime here is that the UEFA, FIFA, English FA, the Premier league and the Football league continue to demonstrate their complete lack of backbone and any moral fibre. It makes my blood boil to see the like Ken Bates and others legally abuse administration to feather their own nest at others expense
    1. How difficult would it be to simply apply a rule that a teams annual player salary cannot exceed 60% of the clubs income? Initially the big clubs would benefit but eventually teams who realise the benefits of a decent youth policy would benefit more.
    2. Make all leagues collectively bargain for media payments which are more equally shared. The premiership will be a disaster zone once this last bastion of some type of equality disappears.
    3. Remove preferential treatment for creditors and players. Though I feel sorry for these loyal players I feel more sorry for the admin staff who have also not been paid and have no guarantee of ever recouping that pay.

    The sad fact is that most football clubs are no longer at the centre of their communities except for extracting money and if that is how they want it to be then so be it. Grow up and be prepared to be treated like the money grabbing businesses they've become.

  • Comment number 47.

    i'm not sure of this but i reckon that any income comeing into the club will go to the administrators, they don't work for nothing so if you wonder why the players didn't get paid think guilfoyle, administrators take their fees before anything else and they don't work cheap,and it's about time that those who milked the club should be brought to account the rich shouldn't get away with it,surely what they do can't be totally legal.

  • Comment number 48.

    Unfortunately, this gulf between Premier League and the rest of the football league is widening alarmingly.

    Apparently the average wage of a premiership player is 1.2m (this is according to wikipedia). Worked out per month, that's 100k. Now, if every premiership player (I'm guessing there's 540 of them) pooled 1% of their monthly wage, that's £540,000, enough to help no doubt. Let's face it, 1% of my monthly wage would probably buy me a couple of hot dinners.

    I'm not saying that players should donate their toilet paper money to other teams, but it just goes to show that a miniscule amount could probably give oxygen to a drowning club.

  • Comment number 49.

    I wish Man City could donate Tevez's wages for the next two weeks to argyle. My first ever football match was at home park between Plymouth and Wolves.

  • Comment number 50.

    You obviously have forgotten Torquay United and Exeter are also league clubs in Devon.
    Plymouth are a joke, look at the appointment of Ridsdale, should be banned from football 4 ever, then they treat Peter reid like that!

  • Comment number 51.

    Hi Paul, when I saw this article I thought how long will it take to bring Man City into the story, well you managed it in the first sentence, well done.

    I am a Man City fan but like Plymouth, I hope they survive and it would be great if any wages due a certain Mr Tevez headed to Argyle for the duration of his suspension.

  • Comment number 52.

    The simple solution to the plight of the lower division clubs. And probably a simplification of the problem, but here goes .......

    Each player in each Premier League squad forgoes one weeks wages per season which will go to the FA and constitute a fund to help the clubs in danger of not being able to pay its players. Strict controls on this fund that it would be for players' wages only, not paying a club's tax bill - that's a business problem that the club has to deal with. I know that players' wages are also a business problem but, at least, we're looking at the human aspect of this.

    Premier League squads have 25 players each and there are 20 clubs. Now, we all know that the BIG stars are getting telephone number salaries, so I don't know what the average wage of Premier League players is but, if the average wage of a Premier League player is £40000, that would generate a fund of £20 million, at £30000, a fund of £15 million. Even an average wage of £20000 would give a fund of £10 million.

    The top players get as much as they can from the game and fair play to them for having the ability to play at the top level. But maybe it would be a good thing to give something tangible back to the game, not just show up at a local community soccer school to satisfy their consciences. Playing friendlies to raise cash is fraught with problems of the big clubs not having enough time to fit another fixture in and so they send their 2nd string team. Then the fans of the smaller club feel grateful but, at the same time, let down that they haven't seen the big stars play.

    Simple solution ..... straight cash injection for the players who need the cash most. I know it sounds like old-fashioned socialism, redistribution of wealth and all that, but it's only one weeks salary - I'm sure they can afford it.

    Like I said, a simple solution so ...... call me simple!

  • Comment number 53.

    why cant these big teams with there billionaire owners give a little to help out, if there prepared too pay idiots like tevez millions why not give a team in need some much needed cash!!


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