It’s not easy being green!
by Ben James
Times are hard for Plymouth Argyle. The football league’s most southern club are stuck in the middle of a financial crisis and are currently in administration. With players and staff being paid only a small percentage of their wages from the last nine months, Plymouth’s struggle is starting to take its toll.
Players have been forced to move out of their houses because they can’t afford to live there and the communication between the playing staff and the administrators is at an all time low. Things are getting desperate at Home Park and a light at the end of the tunnel is yet to be seen.
Now ordinarily, many football fans would not care for Plymouth Argyle or take an interest in their affairs but in light of recent events people need to take notice. A club has been run into the ground due to an ignorant board of directors who ran a club on hope. They chose to dream and ignored reality. A whole club was being operated and hinged on the hope that England would be awarded the 2018 World Cup. It was careless, it was idiotic and it was reckless, but worst of all it was the first domino to topple.
Since the awarding of the 2018 World Cup to Russia, Plymouth Argyle’s troubles have worsened. The players and staff have not been paid in full since last December and the club entered administration in March. Consequently the club was given a 10 point deduction and were relegated from League One. Ex-Leeds and Cardiff chairman Peter Ridsdale stepped into help the club and he is currently the Chairman of Plymouth Argyle following the purchase of the club for £1.
The clubs survival now hinges on finding a buyer. A consortium called Bishop International Limited are working with Truro City Chairman Kevin Heaney in order to complete a deal for the club but after weeks of missed deadlines and false promises a takeover is still no closer. Brendan Guilfoyle, the administrator working with Argyle has continually re-assured fans that Bishop International Ltd will make the payment of £6million that the club so desperately needs, once it has been given approval by the football league, but all Argyle fans remain sceptical.
This whole situation could have been avoided if Guilfoyle had given James Brent – a local businessman – the chance to purchase the club. Brent has been working with the Argyle Fans Trust to form a contingency plan should the current deal not go through. However with constant delays, time is starting to run out. As things currently stand, Heaney has threatened to pull out of the current deal if things do not speed up, but with strong pressure from the fans against Heaney, nobody is really sure what outcome will be reached. Rumours have recently linked Argyle to ex-Oxford chairman Firoz Kassam who apparently met with Ridsdale earlier this week but whether there is anything concrete in the rumours is yet to be established.
With the clubs current plight being such a desperate one, action is being taken by fans across the football league. Thanks to a group of Brighton supporters, a fans re-united day has been organised. In 1997, Brighton faced financial trouble and called on supporters of all clubs to stand with them to show their disgust at what was happening. “Fans United” was arranged and it was a strong show of solidarity between fans across the football league. Football fans turned out in their droves to watch Brighton beat relegation rivals Hartlepool 5-0 at the Goldstone Ground. A similar event is now being arranged for Plymouth. On September 24th, Plymouth Argyle will play Macclesfield Town in a League Two fixture at Home Park. Fans are being asked to once again show solidarity and help raise awareness to Plymouth’s plight on what will be known as ‘Fans Reunited’ day (@FansReunited). All fans are being asked to turn up to Home Park, wearing whatever colours they wish, to join the Argyle crowd in support in protest against the proposed takeover of Peter Ridsdale and Bishop International Limited. Understandably, a lot of teams will have home fixtures on the same day, but if your team is playing away and you aren’t going, make the journey to Home Park and help the cause.
Brighton fans will also be raising awareness during their televised match against Leeds the night before. The Amex will be littered with Argyle flags and supportive banners whilst many Brighton fans will be wearing green in support of Plymouth.
The fans of Plymouth Argyle have done so much to help their club. Since the start of the financial trouble, over £100,000 has been raised for the unpaid staff via online donations, collection buckets and sponsored events. The fans can raise over £100,000, but wealthy businessman won’t even give a penny.
Plymouth Argyle is my beloved club. I’ve been at Home Park at 3am on a Saturday morning to board a cramped, smelly coach to travel to Newcastle. I travelled to Peterborough at the end of last season only to see us lose 2-1, in the hope we could survive relegation despite a ten point deduction. I was part of an away crowd off 9000+ that filled The Emirates away end when we lost 3-1 to Arsenal nearly three years ago and most recently I was one of the 1207 Argyle fans that filled the Greenhouse Meadow away end at Shrewsbury as against all the odds, Plymouth Argyle managed to field a team on the opening day of the League Two season. We came away with a much deserved point after a 91st minute equaliser from Carl Fletcher. The goal was greeted by scenes of jubilation and ecstasy. It came with so much relief and provided so much hope. Yet 4 weeks later here I am, seeing us bottom of the football league and just praying that this turmoil will come to an end.
I’ve experienced so many highs and lows in my years supporting Plymouth Argyle. Two promotions, two relegations, some fantastic away days and many more Home Park memories. It’s sad to think that there won’t be any more. That one day, when I have children, I won’t be able to take them to support Plymouth Argyle, just like my Dad for me. A city of 250,000 people is set to lose its Football Club, the biggest in the south-west by a distance. I can’t imagine a world without Plymouth Argyle, a club that I have spent so much money and time supporting. A club that unites me and thousands of other people. A club which has brought me closer to friends with whom I have experienced so much.
The situation here in Plymouth is disgraceful. Players, fans and staff are being effectively ridiculed by incompetent businessmen who are killing the club. The time to make a stand is now and we are calling on all of you to help us. Come to Home Park on the 24th and show your support. 124 years of history can not be allowed to die.
‘Rovers are Red,
Brighton are blue,
The FA love twenty clubs,
We love all ninety-two.”