Plymouth’s Pilgrims Hope For A Brighter Future

by Mike Moore

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

Is Peter Risdale the man to bring Plymouth Argyle out of their slump?

For all you Birmingham and West Ham fans who are finding the thought of playing at a lower level deplorable, that your finances will be stretched and your stature to lower, consider this – at least you’re not a Plymouth Argyle fan.

The tale of Argyle’s last few seasons reads like an absolute nightmare for any diehard fan; financial irregularities, administration, points deductions, successive relegations dropping the team down into League Two with seemingly little chance of holding onto its best players. Recently former Leeds chairman Peter Risdale, as someone with notable prior experience of being associated with clubs with crippling financial issues, has been appointed as a consultant to oversee a summer of rebuilding, which seems to have taken another blow today with rumours that a reported Irish takeover consortium has pulled out of a bid.

Plymouth entered administration three months ago with debts of over £17m, divided between more than 240 creditors, and were forced to withhold wage payments to players and staff simply in order to keep the club afloat. The players eventually offered to waive their payments in favour of the club’s staff being paid first, but they themselves were paid late in November, December, and January. In the end, the squad even suffered the ignominy of receiving a wage loan from the PFA in order to make up for the club’s shortfall – a sad event for any supposedly professional business.

The proposed Irish takeover – details of which are still shrouded in mystery, as their identity will not be revealed until June 14th – had seemed like a godsend for Argyle. As well as settling debts and ploughing investment into the club, the prospective buyers will be responsible for developing the stadium and adjoining land. Plymouth is a significant urban centre, and the city needs the club to prosper in order to bring in away fan and tourist income. The south-west, with the example of Championship side Bristol City, is showing worrying signs of decline, with Swindon and Bristol Rovers joining Plymouth in League Two next season. Only Torquay United, who lost out to Stevenage in the League Two Play-Off final last week, and Exeter, whose team seem to have borrowed some kind of motivation elixir from what their Rugby counterparts  enjoyed in their first Premiership season, have bucked the trend, narrowly missing out on the play-offs. Hopefully this summer will yield a bumper removal down on the English Riviera, and Plymouth and the rest of the region can enjoy a resurgence of fortunes next season.


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