A Round-up of Argyle News
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Also included on the three most recent days, facts from Argyle's history.
An Argyle XI beat Tavistock 3-1 in Andy Meeds' Testimonial Match at Langsford Park last night, the goals coming from trialists Joseph Mendes and Colin Watson, and an own goal. The Argyle side included Romain Larrieu, Curtis Nelson and trialist Joe Holt. The Pilgrims also fielded striker Nicolay Misiuk, a Lithuanian Under-21 international who has previously had a trial with Tranmere. Kevin Hodges said: "We created loads of chances, but we needed to be more clinical in front of goal. We had lots of possession but it was a little slow paced, and the passing wasn't as consistent as it has been lately. Having said that, it was another useful work-out."
Conor Hourihane has become the seventh new recruit to Argyle's squad this summer. He joins on a free transfer from Ipswich Town and has agreed a two-year contract. Hourihane played as a trialist in the victory over Truro City on Wednesday and Peter Reid said: "Conor was exceptional to be fair, and he gives us that attacking option from the middle of the park, which I have been looking for. I thought he was the best player on the pitch, to be perfectly honest, so this is a good boost for us." Meanwhile, the chances of Gerard Kinsella earning a contract with Argyle have ended, for now. He has been training with the squad after his release by Everton, but now requires knee surgery. However, Reid plans to take another look at Kinsella when he has recovered. Reid said: "I think he's going to have a meniscus operation and then we will pick it up when he's fit. He's another one who has good feet and plenty of energy in the middle of the park."
The mystery men bankrolling the proposed takeover of Argyle will be revealed, but only to the Football League. The governing body has been pushing for the names of those financing the deal and reports suggest Football League chiefs have insisted on full disclosure of the backers before they give the go-ahead to Argyle's plans to exit administration. Kevin Heaney has now agreed to reveal their names but it is unclear whether Heaney or the League will make that information public. Peter Ridsdale said: "Kevin has confirmed he will disclose the identities. He's said it's not a problem and, to be honest, everybody might be surprised that there's not as many people as you might think." Ridsdale believes the deal will go through by the end of the month. A legally-binding sale and purchase agreement expires on August 12th, a week later than thought. "It's all moving forward," Ridsdale said. "The only bit I would wait for is, will the cash clear? That's the only question I've got outstanding. It's all on track but, ultimately, the only thing that will tell us we'll get there is getting the money in. We've not had a definitive response from the Football League yet but I and the lawyers are comfortable about where we are."
Argyle's new chief executive-in-waiting David Jones has revealed he is confident the club will make it back to the Championship. The plan is for Jones, formerly finance director at Southampton, to be confirmed in his post when the club exits administration and splits into two companies. Jones has been working at Home Park since December, when he was appointed as a financial consultant to Argyle on a short-term basis. He remained at Home Park after the club entered administration at the start of March, working alongside Peter Ridsdale. He was introduced in his prospective post of chief executive when Argyle announced a shirt sponsorship deal with WH Bond on Wednesday and will be responsible for the financial side of the club, including ticket sales and commercial matters. He said: "I'm really quite excited about it. I have been in football for 13 years with Southampton, where I was finance director. Southampton were in a similar situation, but they were a bit more fortuitous in that we were able to find them a Swiss billionaire and that is not the case here. We haven't got a big sugar-daddy and what happens depends on us running the club in a financially responsible way. When I came here in December, it felt like a club in administration. But I think there's massive potential here and I can't see why Argyle should not have a go at getting back into the Championship." Jones, however, conceded it had been difficult to get the club to the point where they could attract new shirt sponsors. He said: "It has been a long, hard struggle to get to this point and we have only been able to do it because the players and the staff agreed to have their wages deferred. But now we are able to focus 100 per cent on playing football. To get a big company to back us while we are in administration is quite something. I am confident we are going to be able to get out of administration within the next few weeks and I think if we can get a few good results on the park early on, all this bad stuff will go away."
Rory Patterson has completed his season-long loan move to Linfield after a late hitch. The delay stemmed from Patterson's decision not to sign a deed of deferral over his wages for June. Patterson eventually signed the deed of deferral for his June wages, but after a deadline that had been set. So, unlike the rest of the squad who had signed before that date, he did not receive a percentage of the money he was owed for the month. Peter Ridsdale said: "At the time the deeds of deferral for June were signed by the rest of the squad we then distributed all the cash that was available among them. So to sign it six weeks later and say, 'Where's my money?' wasn't particularly helpful." Ridsdale thought Patterson signing on loan for Linfield was the best resolution. He added: "When we come out of administration the new company will have the liability of the football creditor debt owed to him. It has been a disappointing problem, but one that is of a making of the circumstances we find ourselves in. I'm not going to criticise him, anybody here or the administrator."
Brendan Guilfoyle has finally given Argyle the go ahead to register their summer signings with the Football League. Peter Ridsdale believes it is the strongest signal yet that the secretive proposed takeover of the club is close to completion. Although there is still much speculation about the future of the club, he insisted he was 'relaxed' about the current situation. Ridsdale said: "I think we have made tremendous progress. We have got a shirt sponsor and we have got the administrator to sign the players' registrations. I don't think he would do that if he didn't feel we were on the right track, so I think that's a major move forward." Ridsdale admitted more patience might be required before the club finally emerged from administration under his ownership. "We have always said the start of the season was a target date, but on Wednesday we had some questions from the Football League," he said. "It was nothing fundamental, just normal questions on a business plan. I have done this before. You think it's going to be done in a few days and it ends up being done in weeks, but as long as everything is on track I will be relaxed. I think the key thing at the moment is for everybody to keep focused and be patient." Ridsdale was involved in talks with Guilfoyle and Kevin Heaney at Home Park on Wednesday afternoon, before Argyle beat Truro City in a pre-season friendly. He said: "There was no disagreement between any of the parties. It just has that flavour at the moment, and you never know until it's finished, of everybody pulling in the same direction to get this thing completed." Argyle club lawyer David Hinchliffe also attended the meeting on Wednesday. Ridsdale continued: "There is a mutual desire to get things done, and there are no fundamental issues that are outstanding. There is still quite a lot to do. Everybody sits back and from a distance thinks, 'It's simple, what are they doing?' but a lot of work goes into this. It's one of those situations where people think they have got so much time, and when you get towards the end there is a lot to do in a short space of time. But we are all cracking on and I'm looking forward to the start of the new season." Argyle can have a squad of up to 20 professional players while they remain in administration, and at the moment they have 14. Ridsdale said: "I would expect by the time we kick-off we will have most of the vacant spots within the squad number filled. We had some trialists in the team on Wednesday. And we have got some players who will be down in time for the game at Saltash United on Monday." Argyle have been sounding out several Premier League clubs about signing young players on loan from them but Ridsdale admitted it was not proving to be a straightforward process. He said: "One of the issues we are facing with some of the Premier League and Championship clubs we are talking to is that they want to get their squads settled. But I know of a number of Premier League managers who either I, or Peter, or both of us, have spoken to where there is a clear desire to help us. However, they want to get clarity on what their transfer dealings have brought them. That's why, sometimes, you have to play the long game for the last few slots and that's what we are doing."
Joe Holt and Conor Hourihane did their chances of securing a move to Argyle no harm with their performances against Truro City on Wednesday, and both earned praise from Peter Reid. He said: "I thought Conor and Holty did really well. Conor's goal was terrific, he passed it into the net, and I think he has got a really good range of passing. Holty certainly handles the ball well and he gets up and down. He's not bad at all." Overall, Reid was satisfied with the showing from all three of the new trialists. He said: "I was pleased with them. I thought they all acquitted themselves really well." Reid is expected to continue running the rule over Holt, Hourihane and Mendes in the coming days. Meanwhile, Argyle are close to reaching a contract agreement with Andres Gurrieri. Wednesday's friendly was a good work-out for Argyle as Truro put in a determined display. Reid said: "I thought it was a good football match. Overall, I was pleased with the way we passed it, and our work ethic, but we need to improve. There are a lot of young lads out there at the moment and they are learning all the time. Some of our play was really good. We did create chances against a well-organised side, and possibly a more physical side on the day. I was pleased with it in terms of fitness. I thought we shifted the ball well but, on the odd occasion, we just got a little bit anxious, instead of keeping it. That's what we talked about at half-time. When you have got possession you don't have to force it all the time. I will be impressing that on the players but, overall, in terms of the game I thought the lads handled it really well."
Argyle will be sending their first team squad for the friendly at Saltash United on Monday. Peter Reid said: "I will use it as a first team game. And I will most probably have a 11 against 11 at Home Park on the Wednesday." Argyle have had only three first team friendlies this pre-season, all of them at Home Park, and Reid added: "We may not have had many pre-season games, but in terms of minutes on the pitch the players are equating to what they did last year. So I'm really pleased with the way it's going."
Argyle beat Truro City 2-1 at Home Park last night, the goals scored by Carl Fletcher and trialist Conor Hourihane. Also included in the starting line-up were Joseph Mendes, Joe Holt and Andres Gurrieri and the trialists all caught the eye of Peter Reid. "I thought Conor and Holty did well," he said. "Conor's goal was terrific. I think he's got a good range of passing. Holt certainly handles the ball and he gets up and down. He's not bad at all. I thought Mendes was tired. He hasn't done much training, he has only just started with us, and he'll get better with more fitness. They all acquitted themselves all very well. I'll be speaking to relevant people." Gurrieri played at right-back in the absence of injured Durrell Berry and Curtis Nelson, and is close to committing his future to the club. "Andres is not a full-back but he did a great job for us," said Reid. "I wanted to try and play the ball out of defence and I took a couple of chances there. I just thought I'd have a look at him there to try and pass it from the back. He did alright except for the mistake. You can see that he's a good footballer. He got caught with the goal but, overall, I was pleased with the way we passed it and our work ethic, although we need to improve. We shifted the ball well. On the odd occasion, we just got a little bit anxious in terms of keeping the ball and that's what we talked about at half-time. Sometimes, when you have got possession, you don't want to have to force it all the time and that's something we'll be impressing on the players. There are a lot of young lads out there at the moment and they're learning all the time. Some of the stuff was really good, we did create chances against a really organised side and possibly a more physical side on the day. I was pleased with them in terms of fitness. We may not have had many pre-season games but, in terms of minutes on the pitch, players are equating to what they did last year. Durrell and Curtis are expected to be fit on Monday, when Reid will take a full-strength squad to Saltash. Jamie Richards will not be part of that squad as he has been told to rest for a week after suffering a concussion in the match at Bridport on Tuesday. However, Jared Sims may be given another chance to impress. Reid added: "Sims, when he came on, was a different class again; he handles a football. What I like about him is that he gets in a good position to receive the ball. He has got a natural football brain and gets in those areas where he is difficult to pick up. Tom Hitchcock is like that, too. It's good movement." Argyle: Cole, Gurrieri, Zubar, Soukouna, Williams, Daley, Fletcher, Hourihane, Holt, Mendes, Hitchcock. Subs Walton, Copp, Sims (not used - Larrieu, Pearce, Harper-Penman, Young. Attendance - 2,271
Argyle's new shirt sponsors wasted no time in providing practical help to the club. "This time yesterday, we were panicking about whether we'd be running out at Shrewsbury with a kit to play in," Peter Ridsdale said yesterday. "When we spoke to WH Bond & Sons about our predicament, the first thing they did, which I think is an indication of a relationship that is outstanding, is they wrote a cheque so that we will have a kit to play in. Not only against Shrewsbury, but also in home games coming forward before, ultimately, the main kit that we are hoping to play in for the rest of the season will arrive." Ridsdale added: "Today is all about the future, about our relationship with WH Bond & Sons. To have a new partnership is very exciting for us. It's new in the sense that it's a new front of shirt sponsors but, as a company, WH Bond & Sons have been corporate sponsors of the club for some years. This is just ramping it up to the next level. It's an initial 12-month deal with an option to extend. We sincerely hope that we're sitting here this time next year, saying that we've done so well, we're in a happy relationship and extending." Details of the deal are confidential but Ridsdale revealed that the club can cash in on a successful campaign under Peter Reid. He said: "What's been signed is not only a very lucrative up-front payment in terms of guaranteed payment, but we will also be rewarded on the basis of our success during the period of sponsorship. If Peter wasn't motivated enough to do the job on the park, I'm sure he is from a financial point of view! As we succeed, the sponsorship will be rewarded." If Reid felt pressurised by this clause in the deal, he certainly was not showing it. "They are a big local firm who are big supporters of the football club," he said. "This can only enhance the club, and hopefully we will have a good relationship. The most important thing for both of us is to win football matches and that's what we will be trying to do. With the help of the Bond family, hopefully we can see that through. I'm delighted. I'd just like to thank the lads, personally, on behalf of the club."
Argyle's new shirt sponsor will be WH Bond & Sons, an agricultural-based business from South East Cornwall. Peter Ridsdale said: "Given the problems of the last few months, we are delighted that we have managed to secure a new main sponsor for the club. WH Bond are a local company and are clearly as excited as we are about the future of Plymouth Argyle. They have signed a deal which is not only highly lucrative as it stands, but also contains bonus-based elements." Ridsdale also revealed that the relationship between the club and its new backers got off to a flying start, even as the ink was drying on the contract. He said: "As a sign of the good relationship that already exists, yesterday, WH Bond paid for the first-team kit in which we will start the season. This is not something that they had to do as part of their sponsorship deal, but they did it willingly and I am sure that this is an indication of what promises to be a highly mutually beneficial relationship, going forward." The deal with WH Bond sees the end of Ginsters' nine-year stint as shirt sponsors. However, the company will continue to back the club, diverting their sponsorship into other areas. Ridsdale added: "Plymouth Argyle would like to place on record our thanks and gratitude to Ginsters and its employees for the support and investment in the club over the past nine years. The club has held a number of positive meetings with Ginsters in recent weeks and we are delighted that Ginsters have stated their intent to continue our long-standing partnership. The club and Ginsters plan to make an announcement over the next few days regarding exciting new developments in the relationship which will further enhance the regional and national links between our two organisations."
An Argyle XI drew 3-3 at Bridport last night, the goals coming from a Matt Lecointe hat-trick. Kevin Hodges, who took charge of the team, said: "It was a lively game. Our lads showed very good character, and a lot of plusses came out of it. I was very pleased. There were lots of little learning curves which they had to contend with, and it was quite a physical game at some points. All three goals we conceded were poor from our football from our point of view, but, in-between, what we did was very pleasing and the response every time we went behind was great." Argyle: Chenoweth, Walton, Pearce, Richards, Clarvis, Harper-Penman, Hart, Copp, Vassell, Lecointe, Harvey. Subs Allen, Bradley, Elcock, Gallagher.
Peter Reid is looking forward to blooding his young squad against an experienced Truro City side tonight. "It's a great game for us, in terms of pre-season," he said. "Truro are full of ex-pros and experience and we've got some young lads who are gaining experience all the time, it'll be a good football match. That's what you want pre-season. They had a fantastic season last term and deserve lots of credit. The manager has done brilliantly in terms of being inexperienced and still doing a great job." Truro manager Lee Hodges won't be the only ex-Pilgrim on show, with Barry Hayles, Joe Broad and Stewart Yetton expected to be amongst the City squad. Although the opposition are two leagues below Argyle, Reid will be looking for a performance like any other. He said: "It's the same as the other games. Whoever you play against you always try and get your priorities right, which basically is to try and get it down and pass it and when you haven't got it, try and get it back. It's just the same whether you're playing Truro, Queens Park Rangers or Bristol City." Argyle are currently trialing a number of young players, some of whom are expected to get a chance to impress tonight. However, there are a few injuries to deal with first. "We've got a couple of little niggles which I'm not sure will be fit," added Reid. "Curtis Nelson's just hurt his ankle and Durrell Berry has just got a little hip-flexor. Anthony Gerrard has come down but he's hurt his knee again so looks like he's going to be unfortunate and miss out. I won't risk anybody." Meanwhile, Argentinean Andres Guirreri looks as though he's done enough to earn a permanent contact. "I'm tying something up with him, he's done well," said Reid.
Peter Reid has been encouraged by Argyle's pre-season to date, despite the small size of his squad. He said: "The players have done well and worked hard. I think they have enjoyed it. It's different from last year, when we were away for 10 days and we had a lot of players. The players have done smashing, but the first league game of the season is the acid test. Obviously, I would like a couple more players. But I think if you ask any manager at any football club he would say the same thing."
Former Everton midfielder Gerard Kinsella has returned for a second week of training with Argyle but Peter Reid will not pursue any further interest in former Preston North End and Norwich City midfielder Simon Whaley. Whaley had been on trial last week, but was hampered by a hamstring problem.
Peter Reid wants to add Argentine winger Andres Gurrieri to his Argyle squad. He said: "He has shown his ability and we will be trying to pursue that one. The kid has done okay, I have got to say that." Meanwhile, the manager has admitted his top priority is to add more attacking options to his small squad. Reid said: "We are working on getting players in all the time because we are a bit short in the front-man department, as I think everyone knows. That's a priority." Reid is not panicking over the lack of depth in his squad, even though the new season is fast approaching. He added: "You have just got to get on with it. There's no magic wand out there. You have just got to do your homework. We are actively working on it, and that's all you can do."
Plymouth City Council cannot make any deals with the company that is bidding to buy the assets of PAFC, councillors were told yesterday. Council leader Vivien Pengelly told a meeting of the full city council that a team from Bishop International had met council officials, who had explained the kind of development that was allowed under the approved Central Park development framework. She said: "It has been made clear to the preferred bidder that any future development proposals need to sit within that framework and no guarantees can be made with regard to their acceptability, as this is a matter for the planning committee." Pengelly also said that the future of football in Plymouth should be decided by the club's adminstrator, and not through speculation by the media and fans. "There has been much speculation and counter-speculation in the local press," she added. "I firmly believe the future of the club needs to be resolved through the administration process, which has identified a preferred bidder. I believe the administrator has been pursuing the best option for the survival of the club. It is for the administrator to determine the financial ability of the preferred bidder to complete his deal and not for others, fans included, to speculate on that issue." Pengelly went on to tell councillors that, if the Bishop International bid collapsed, the council would do all that it could to support any alternative bid. "Plymouth City Council would do all that it legally could to help save the club if that situation arose. We have no desire to undermine the efforts of the administrator and the preferred bidder," she said.
Three more trialists joined Argyle for training yesterday. They were midfielders Conor Hourihane and Joe Holt, and forward Joseph Mendes. Hourihane is a free agent after being released by Ipswich Town, Holt came through the ranks at Wigan Athletic and Mendes was last with French side Grenoble.
Kevin Heaney is due in the Argyle directors' box on Wednesday as pressure mounts on the Truro City owner to speak out about the proposed takeover deal. Heaney has been unwilling to speak publicly since his involvement was revealed in March but is the only known member of an offshore consortium which has entered a sale and purchase agreement to rescue the club from administration. Peter Ridsdale and Brendan Guilfoyle insist the takeover is on track and Ridsdale, who spoke with Heaney on Saturday, says both parties agreed the terms of the proposed lease of Home Park. "For me, stability and affordability have been my top issues in agreeing this," Ridsdale said. "I just can't believe somebody would be doing all this work to not complete." But supporters are concerned that the money for the deal has not yet arrived in an escrow account. They have teamed up with businessman James Brent to hatch a rescue plan in case the deal fails. Argyle Fans' Trust chair Chris Webb said: "Throughout this process, whether we agree with the answers or not, Peter Ridsdale and Brendan Guilfoyle have always responded to our requests to meet and attend supporters' meetings. We have written to Mr Heaney a number of times and he hasn't replied once. For someone who is playing a prospective role in the future of the club we find that truly disappointing. Now is the time for him to be more forthcoming." Bishop International was originally described as an 'Irish consortium'. Heaney initially denied involvement, then admitted he was an 'adviser'. Since being revealed as a full member, he has variously described his joint venture partners as 'heavyweight' Dublin-based developers and a 'reputable' plc. But reports suggest London-based banker Koichiro Abe, an associate of former Argyle directors, was involved until last month. Heaney is in talks over a proposed multiplex cinema beside Home Park and has been exploring the possibility of a new south stand and student accommodation. Plymouth City Council leader Vivien Pengelly previously ruled out handing over any public land. Webb added: "We've been told time and time again that the identity of those involved in Bishop International is not something we should concern ourselves with. But it is something that concerns Plymouth Argyle fans. If someone is planning to develop in Central Park it is an issue for the whole city. We believe we have a right to know who is involved." Heaney was worth £154million on the Times Rich List in 2007. Cornish Homes (UK) Limited was liquidated with debts of £4.8million in 2009. There was a County Court Judgement against Heaney personally in Exeter on July 14th over an £18,978 debt. As of the beginning of last week, the judgement debt had not been paid. Local reporters made attempts to contact Heaney last week, visiting his home and business with fans' questions. There was no answer at his Truro city centre offices and its letterbox was sealed shut. The property appeared bare, except for a boardroom table and stacks of cardboard boxes. There was also no answer at Heaney's home. Bishop International have paid £300,000 for 11 weeks' exclusivity, with around £700,000 due on completion. The legally-binding agreement expires next Friday and Guilfoyle has now passed financial information to rescue plan members in case help is needed. But he has warned an alternative deal would be 'very challenging' to complete.
Work on adding to the Argyle squad continued over the weekend. Peter Ridsdale explained talks had taken place with a number of Premier League clubs about loan signings and revealed five or six trialists would be training with the squad today. Ridsdale insisted he was not unduly concerned about the small size of the squad, with the new season less than two weeks away, and said: "We know we have got 20 slots and we don't want to fill them for the sake of it and miss people we are interested in. We are talking to a number of Premier League clubs about loan deals and five or six trialists were coming to Plymouth last night to be with us." Ridsdale and Peter Reid are working closely on player recruitment. Reid attended the pre-season friendly between Oldham Athletic and Blackpool on Saturday and Ridsdale added: "We are both aware of what we need to do before the start of the season. Work is going on all the time." One possible addition to the squad could be winger Andres Gurrieri, who has been on trial. Ridsdale said: "I have been in discussions with his agent about personal terms. It's a deal we can do, and Peter will have to decide whether to fill up one of his slots with him." Argyle are also taking another look at former Everton midfielder Gerard Kinsella. He trained with them at the start of last week and was set to play against QPR until he suffered a slight knee injury. Kinsella is now set to play in the first team friendly with Truro City at Home Park on Wednesday. Ridsdale has also been encouraged by the performances of some of Argyle's young players in the senior pre-season games. Jared Sims and Jordan Copp have stood out, in particular. He said: "I want to pay tribute to the young kids who have come in and looked outstanding. That's a testament to the youth system at Home Park and all the people involved."
The closing date for existing season ticket holders to renew their seats for was on Friday and all seats which have not been reclaimed will now go on general sale, starting today. Peter Ridsdale said: "The last I heard we had sold between 2,500 and 3,000. We are hoping people will get behind the season ticket campaign now we are close to the start of the league campaign." Ridsdale also confirmed that new playing and training kit was waiting to be delivered to Argyle by Puma, but it had to be signed off by the club's administrators. The team have been wearing their Adidas strip from last term during the pre-season friendlies to date. "We will have a period where the home and away strip will be off-the-shelf," said Ridsdale. "The actual kit probably won't come in until the end of September. In the meantime, we will have a transitional strip. The home one will be very similar to the actual kit, but the away one will be a different colour."
An Argyle XI won 3-1 against Elburton Villa at Haye Road last night, the goals scored by Matt Lecointe, Isaac Vassell and Tyler Harvey. 16-year-old Harvey and his father, Lee, were both used as 59th minute substitutes by their respective sides. Argyle included trialist Andres Gurrieri in their team and he played for 55 minutes before being substituted. Argyle: Cole, Hart, Bradley, Pearce, Richards, Harper-Penman, Berry, Young, Gurrieri, Vassell, Lecointe. Subs - Clarvis, Allen, Ellercott, Harvey.
Peter Reid was disappointed, but philosophical, about Anthony Elding's decision not to join Argyle. He said: "There's nothing we can do about it. He doesn't want to come down here for personal reasons. I'm just glad I found out now, instead of after the transfer window has closed. It's one of those things. Carlos Tevez can't settle in Manchester and Elding doesn't fancy coming to Plymouth." Elding's decision leaves Reid with only two strikers at his disposal, 18-year-old Blackburn Rovers loanee Tom Hitchcock and apprentice Jared Sims, 17. Reid added: "We need more forwards, and I'm working on it."
Anthony Elding will not be joining Argyle. After sleeping on matters he decided against a move to the West Country and Peter Ridsdale said: "Anthony has compelling personal reasons for his decision, which we fully understand. He has handled himself in a thoroughly professional manner, on and off the field, while he has been with us. We wish him well for the future."
Andres Gurrieri could get another chance to impress when an Argyle XI take on Elburton Villa at Haye Road tonight. Peter Reid said: "He only flew in from Argentina last Friday, but he has done well in training and I thought he did smashing in the game against QPR. We're just having a chat with his agent. To be fair, they flew in on Friday from Argentina, then he's gone in training, he's played and he's gone in and I think he did smashing. There's a game Friday so I might look at one or two then." Gurrieri holds dual Argentine and Italian citizenship so, as an EU passport holder, obtaining a work permit for him would not be a problem, should Reid decide to offer him a contract.
Peter Reid believes that Anthony Elding will be another piece in his jigsaw as the team prepare for the beginning of the 2 season. Elding agreed to become Reid's sixth summer-signing after impressing as a trialist in the defeat to Bristol City last Friday. "Anthony played against Bristol City and I thought he did smashing," said Reid. "His fitness levels weren't up to 100%, he was only 75%, so I think supporters will see a big improvement when he gets into his training. Our back four looks as though it's got power and pace and, in midfield, we've got a bit of experience and strength so up front, we need it as well and I think Anthony fits the bill on that. It's another piece of the jigsaw." At 29 years of age, Elding has played for 11 different clubs, something Reid believes will help the cause. "He's a lad who has always had potential but never really got there even though he was scored goals and he is a threat to defenders," explained Reid. "So, it's another chance for him and I think with the lads we've already got, Hitchcock can play and so can young Sims, he gives you that bit of strength and a bit of power. You want hungry players and lads who have got something to prove. I thought we had too many in the squad last year and that in itself causes you problems but now it's streamlined and I think there's a good spirit amongst them and it's showing on the pitch. There's a lot of energy in the side and I think that Anthony will bring it up front. I'm just looking at a few other people but, without a doubt, I'll be looking to add. I've got my 20 players I can choose and, if I'm not mistaken, I can get a bonus because the youth team lads don't count in that. So Sims and Jordan Copp will be a bonus."
On a memorable evening for Romain Larrieu, Argyle put in a spirited performance and held Premier League newcomers Queen's Park Rangers until the 86th minute last night. Larrieu's testimonial match, in honour of more than ten years of dedicated service, ended in a 1-0 defeat, but there was a lot for Peter Reid to be happy about. Despite the disappointment of the late goal, Argyle offered encouraging signs for the fast approaching season. Larrieu made his first appearance of pre-season, behind a defence that included the returning Stephane Zubar, who played at right-back. Argyle's starting line-up featured one trialist left-sided midfielder Andres Gurrieri. The 22-year-old, who holds dual Argentinian and Italian citizenship, played for Sud America in Uruguay's second division last season. On-loan striker Tom Hitchcock led the Argyle attack with apprentice Jared Sims. QPR's former Plymouth boss Neil Warnock put out a strong side, including new recruits Jay Bothroyd and Kieron Dyer. Argyle: Larrieu, Zubar, Nelson, Soukouna, Williams, Daley, Walton, Fletcher, Gurrieri, Hitchcock, Sims. Subs - Young, Copp, Harper-Penman (not used - Cole, Richards, Pearce). Attendance - 5,021
Despite the defeat to QPR, Le Testimonial was a success for Romain Larrieu. He said: "I went through a lot of emotions which I didn't even think about beforehand. I didn't really sleep well last night at all and I couldn't sleep this afternoon. You want it to be good, you want people to turn up and enjoy the night. I did enjoy it, and I believe the people in the stands did, so that's what I was hoping and I think we managed that thanks to the committee and everyone who's been out there spreading the word for me. It's only the start. It's a great start and we need to build on that, it's quite testing to organise a game and we've come out with plenty of new ideas so we'll have to make the other events as good as that." Argyle took another positive step in their preparations for the season after Friday's encouraging performance against Bristol City. Larrieu added: "Against a very good opposition we had to build on what we showed on Friday, and I think we did that in many respects, we tried to pass it and get into the box and create opportunities. We lost to a set piece, which is not what we want to do, but they changed the whole team and we had the same back five for the whole game. It is only pre-season and it doesn't mean much in terms of what you can do in the league but the intentions are here, the effort is here and I think the quality is here if you look at the players that were on show tonight - some are already signed and some the gaffer wants to sign, but there were some decent players out there and the young lads have come on again and showed great promise." Romain was delighted to pull off a trademark diving save in the second half to deny Danny Shittu. He said: "It was a good reaction, but it was a nice height. Last night I dreamed that I would have one like that, I wanted one like that just to enjoy myself and it came, so I was happy!" On an occasion to mark his past days with Argyle, Larrieu insists there's plenty more to come. "As long as I feel good I will try to get in that team, and I feel good, I feel fit," he said. "I can't wait to start the season which is one of the worst situations to be in, because you go through all the training knowing there is no chance of getting in the team, but with all the promise that we are showing, I do believe that we could still have a team on August 6th, and if we can get off to a great start, who knows?" Larrieu was delighted to welcome his friend and former team-mate David Friio to the game, and he provided the half-time entertainment by recreating his wonder goal at Port Vale from the Second Division title-winning season of 03/04. Larrieu said: "He wanted to come as soon as I asked him and it was just a pleasure for him to be here, and I think he appreciated that flag hanging over the Devonport End in the second half. To see a French flag there for the first time, that was good!"
Peter Reid was upbeat about his side's performance in Le Testimonial last night. "We're getting there," he said. "In terms of the way I want to play, there was an energy about the side, and we created we some chances, just not enough quality in the final ball. But it's against a Premier League side who are big and strong and I thought we shifted the ball very well and caused them problems. I'm disappointed getting done by a dead ball. Helguson's got a history of doing that. He doesn't look the biggest in stature but he's got a great spring. We just tired. We had a lot of young players out there at the end. We're getting there. It's been difficult getting players in, but I think we're getting there in terms of what we want. The encouraging thing is without the ball our shutting down and our fitness looked really good. I've got to say some of our passing looked excellent." Argyle started with a team of familiar faces, youth team graduates, trialists and new additions, and made only three changes to the line up during the game. Reid said: "I was pleased with the fitness level. Neil changed his side an awful lot, as did Bristol City. Our lads have stayed on for the majority of the game, and the big thing is that young players are getting a chance. Sims has done great, he did fantastic. The young lad from Blackburn, Hitchcock, is a very intelligent player. Daley is a threat. The young Argentinean, Andres Gurreiri, did well. There were a lot of plusses out there. All in all I felt it was a very encouraging evening." Gurreiri put in an eyecatching performance, which did not go unnoticed by Reid, who added: "I thought he did alright. He's got body strength, and that was a physically demanding game. They are a big side, and I thought he acquitted himself really well." Aside from the heartening performance, the night belonged to Romain Larrieu, and Reid said: "I'm pleased, but the most important thing is it was Romain's night. I think he made a great save. He'll be disappointed to concede one but it's been a terrific night and the crowd were fantastic for him. It was a very pleasing night for everyone concerned."
Anthony Elding will travel to Plymouth today with a view to joining Argyle. He is expected in Devon for a medical and talks that could see him agree to become Peter Reid's sixth signing of the summer.
Romain Larrieu has said he wants to pursue a career in coaching when he retires as a goalkeeper, although the 34-year-old has no plans to end his playing career. He is determined to be the Pilgrims' first choice 'keeper for the forthcoming 2011/12 season. Larrieu took his Level Two coaching badge earlier this summer, when former Pilgrims' team-mate Lee Hodges was also on the same course. Larrieu said: "I did my coaching badge with Hodgie in Cheltenham. It was good. Level Two is right at the start. It was quite daunting at first, but it went really well." Larrieu's ambition is to eventually become a manager, and is confident he has the attributes that are needed. He said: "I believe I can see what's wrong and what's right. I have got it in the back of my mind to be a manager, but it's about getting the opportunity. I will carry on playing as long as my head wants. My body is fine I feel good. I will work hard and try to show there is still life in me, but I'm not too concerned. I know I can last a while yet." Facing competition from Jake Cole this season, Larrieu added: "I'm not ready to share. I have never been ready to share. That's how I took it and I managed to get quite a few games out of last season. I was pleased with that but, obviously, I would have wanted to play more because the desire to do that is still there."
Romain Larrieu has described his ten years at Plymouth Argyle as an "unforgettable ride". During that time, the Pilgrims won two league titles, and more recently, Argyle have suffered back-to-back relegations after a period of sustained success. Larrieu, who will be 35 at the end of August, has also overcome testicular cancer twice. On top of that, the survival of the club has hung in the balance after debts totalling around £17 million took them to the brink of going bust. It has been a turbulent time, and Argyle remain in administration as a proposed takeover nears completion, but tonight, the Green Army can temporarily put all their worries about the future of the club to one side, and instead pay tribute to the loyal and dedicated service of Larrieu. The Frenchman's testimonial match against Premier League newcomers Queen's Park Rangers at Home Park promises to be a memorable occasion. Larrieu hopes it will be a celebration, not only of his ten years with Argyle but also of all that has been good about the club over a decade. "It has been hard to be an Argyle player, and an Argyle fan, recently because of the situation at the club," he said. "It's still unsettling, even though we are apparently moving in the right way. My testimonial match is a celebration of my ten years at Argyle, but it corresponds with ten years of the history of the club. That's what I want people to take it as, and that's why it should be a celebration," he added. "Personally, it has been an unforgettable ride, and, out of those ten years, eight of them have been pretty good ones. So I wouldn't change anything, apart from the two relegations, and I can't do that, unfortunately. That happens in football, and we need to deal with it now."
Larrieu arrived at Home Park as a trialist in November 2000 with French compatriot David Friio. The pair went on to play an important part in Argyle's rise up the Football League, as two title successes in three seasons saw the Pilgrims move into the Championship. Larrieu and Friio were part of the squad with which Sturrock set about transforming the club. By the end of the following term, Argyle were Third Division champions. Larrieu said: "Sturrock saw the opportunity to build his own team. He signed a few players who became a hit straight away Cocko [Graham Coughlan], David, Mickey [Evans] and Lee Hodges. The fans will remember all those players for a long, long time." Friio, who has travelled from his home in France, Evans, Hodges and Paul Wotton, who now plays for Yeovil Town, will be present tonight among the crowd. Larrieu admitted that he is grateful for the support he has received from the Green Army. "Even from the early days, I felt a good vibe coming from the stands," he said. "That's one of the reasons why you feel good somewhere. When you feel good when you go on the pitch, you want to perform even better. There have been some very good moments." Larrieu has made a total of 306 first-team appearances for Argyle, and he takes a lot of satisfaction from what he has achieved. He said: "I will always keep a special place in my head for Plymouth, because it's where I was given my chance. I have done myself proud as a football player, and that was all I had in mind when I first came. I think, in that respect, I shouldn't have any regrets."
Stephane Zubar returned to training at UCP Marjon yesterday, after agreeing to sign a new two-year contract. There was interest in the centre-back from four other clubs but Zubar insisted that returning to Argyle had always been his preferred option, despite relegation to League Two. He has also been reassured about the future of the club by acting chairman and chief executive Peter Ridsdale. Zubar remains grateful to the Pilgrims for signing him last season, despite three months of inactivity while a contract wrangle with Vaslui, his former club in Romania, was resolved. So he was keen to repay the loyalty they had shown him then by agreeing to re-sign for Argyle. The 24-year-old said: "I spoke with Toronto, Doncaster, Charlton and MK Dons, but it was just talk. It had got to the stage where I wanted to know where I was going to play this season, and for me it was Plymouth. I know that I could play in the Championship or League One, but I've got a good deal and I'm happy here. I have a lot of fun here, and it was the right decision for me. The club did a lot of things for me when I wanted to leave Romania, and I will never forget that. If I can help the club now, it's very important for me." Zubar is glad that the long service of Larrieu to the Pilgrims is being honoured. "I'm happy for Romain," he added. "He has stayed here for ten years and is an example to me for the future. I want to stay in Plymouth for a long time, because in the last four years I have changed teams a lot. When I arrived here, I couldn't speak English and Romain helped me out. He's a good guy."
Peter Ridsdale will be named Plymouth Argyle's new owner by the end of next week, according to the club's lead administrator, Brendan Guilfoyle, who has dismissed fears that the takeover of the club is on the brink. Guilfoyle said: "In view of all this noise around the deal and all these doom-laden predictions, we're just moving along for completion at the end of the month. It's all calm my end. As far as we're concerned, it's all hunky-dory." The £5million-plus deal that will give Ridsdale sole ownership of Argyle has already been agreed. Offshore property company Bishop International Limited is set to buy the club's stadium and land assets, and then sell the football club to Ridsdale for £1. Truro City FC owner Kevin Heaney is involved with the Gibraltar-based consortium. He has not revealed who his joint venture partners are, and it is understood that one partner, Japanese investment banker Koichiro Abe, pulled out of the deal last month. The cash to complete the deal has not yet been sent to an escrow account, and only £300,000 has been paid for ten weeks of exclusivity with Argyle's administrators, but Guilfoyle said: "I don't speak with him [Heaney] on a daily basis, but I'm told he is funded and keen to complete. We've had a lawyer-to-lawyer letter I think it's a solicitor's undertaking that he can complete the transaction." Guilfoyle also denied there is a dispute with Plymouth City Council over Bishop International's development plans. He added: "He [Heaney] has consistently told me that his plans have got a warm welcome from the council. He's very happy with the prospect of developing."
Goalkeeper Jake Cole is the latest to agree a deal with the Pilgrims, following yesterday's news that Luke Daley and Ladji Soukouna will be signing for the club. Cole joins as a free agent having decided to leave Barnet at the end of last season. He appeared in pre-season run outs against Torpoint and Bristol City but will sit out of tonight's Le Testimonial for obvious reasons. The 25-year-old began his career at Queens Park Rangers before loan spells with Hayes, AFC Wimbledon, Farnborough Town, Oxford United and Barnet. Following his release from Loftus Road, Cole signed permanently for Barnet and was awarded with the Player of the Year trophy in his first season.
It looks likely that Argyle will lose out on striker Antony Elding. Elding, who has been told he can leave Rochdale, looks to be favouring a move to Blue Square Conference side Mansfield Town.
Damien Johnson has re-joined de Huddersfield Town, signing a season-long loan at the Galpharm Stadium that will see out his contract with Argyle. Manager Peter Reid was sad to see Johnson leave but admitted that it was something that had to be done. He said: "Damien's been a great pro. In an ideal world, I'd like him here but, financially, it isn't viable so you've got make those decisions. He's a great lad and I wish him all the best; he deserves it." Johnson first joined Huddersfield on a season-long loan on the eve of last season, but he suffered a cruciate ligament injury in December which ruled him out for the remainder of the campaign. Reid said: "He's fought back from injury and, whilst he's been in pre-season, he's done everything we've asked of him and been really bright round the place. So he goes with all of our best wishes."
Peter Reid has spoken of his delight that defender Stephane Zubar has agreed to re-sign for the Pilgrims. The Guadeloupe international was expected to re-join his team-mates in training this morning, having agreed to a two-year deal. Zubar, 24, was the only out-of-contract player to be offered a new deal this summer, having arrived from Romanian side SC Vaslui in the summer of 2010. "He was owed a lot of money in Romania and he wiped his hands with it to come and play here," said Reid. "I thought, at right-back, he was great and then, at centre-half, he was even better, so it's a big bonus and I'm delighted that he wants to come back. It shows what the club means to him and I think the fans will be pleased to see him back, too."
Argentine winger Andres Gurrieri was one of four new trialists when Argyle trained at UCP Marjon yesterday. The 22-year-old played for Uruguayan second division side Sud America last season. Gurrieri had previously been with Ternama in Italy, during which time he had a loan spell with Colligiana. Also starting trials with Argyle yesterday were midfielder Gerard Kinsella, versatile attacking player Simon Whaley and winger Shane Williams. Centre midfielder Kinsella, 19, was released by Everton earlier this summer. Whaley, who can play in midfield or attack, is hoping for a chance to rebuild his once promising career. He was sold by Preston North End to Norwich City for £250,000 in the summer of July 2009, but his contract was cancelled the following February. He has since had short spells at Chesterfield, Doncaster Rovers and Burton Albion. Williams, 19, is a left-sided winger who graduated from Birmingham City's youth academy. He was on trial at Yeovil Town earlier this month.
Newspaper reports suggest that Argyle will take striker Tom Hitchcock on a three-month loan from Premier League club Blackburn Rovers. The 18-year-old grabbed the second goal for Argyle against Bristol City, which capped a good all-round display from him. Reid first spotted Hitchcock playing for Blackburn reserves in a match last season and was impressed with what he saw then. His opinion of the striker has not altered after his run-out against Bristol City. Reid said: "I just think he's a really good footballer. He gets in holes and he has got an eye for a goal. It was the manner of his goal against Bristol City which I liked. He was on the move in the box and he was clinical. And his work ethic off the ball was excellent. He shut down their defenders on numerous occasions and he won the ball back for us high up the pitch. It was the whole package."
Deals have been agreed with trialists Luke Daley and Ladji Soukouna as Peter Reid rebuilds his Argyle squad, and the manager is retaining an interest in goalkeeper Jake Cole and striker Anthony Elding. But striker Kiernan Hughes-Mason, who scored Argyle's first goal in the 3-2 defeat last Friday, will not be offered terms.
The proposed friendly between Callington Town and an Argyle XI planned for this evening has been cancelled due to a misunderstanding over arrangements.
Argyle are on the verge of re-signing Stephane Zubar and expect to add trialists Luke Daley and Ladji Soukouna to the squad for the start of the season. All three are close to agreeing deals, and there's likely to be further movement this week with midfielder Damien Johnson ready to resume his career at Huddersfield Town, probably on a season-long loan. Meanwhile, more trialists are lined up to join the team in training at Marjon in the coming days, including at least one overseas player.
Rory Patterson has left Argyle to join Irish club Linfield on a one-year loan.
A young Argyle side drew 4-4 against Barnstaple Town at the Royal Marines' sports ground at Chivenor yesterday. The goals were scored by Matt Lecointe (2), Tyler Harvey and Ben Clarvis. Argyle: Walton, Hart, Bradley, Pearce, Richards, Harper-Penman, Elcock, Berry, Clarvis, Lecointe, Harvey. Subs - Ord, Bentley, Jewell, Purrington, Vassell, Young, Wheatley, Sims.
Argyle lost 3-2 to Bristol City at Home Park last night, the goals scored by Kiernan Hughes-Mason after 28 minutes and Tom Hitchcock (78). Five of the starting 11 were trialists - goalkeeper Jake Cole, French defender Ladjie Soukouna, Norwich winger Luke Daley, former Millwall forward Keirnan Hughes-Mason, and Rochdale striker Anthony Elding. Peter Reid said: "I thought it was a good match: two good teams in terms of passing and movement, plenty of good football. It was a really good run-out. I thought Hitchcock played well. There were a lot of plusses out there. The trialists did well and we are looking to take it further. Daley was brilliant. I think he got a bit tired and we couldn't get the ball out to him as much as we wanted to. One of the reasons for that was that Durrell Berry went off, because the little partnership they had was really good. Elding hadn't trained and, for an hour, he put everything in but you could see he was missing a yard - I've seen him, and he's stronger and better than that. The left-sider, Hughes-Mason, is usually a right-sider and he got in a good position for his goal. He's another one who needs work. There's plenty out there for me to think about, which is a positive, a lot of plusses. It was a good day. Hopefully we can build on it." Nicky Maynard opened the scoring for City, before Mason-Hughes' headed equaliser. City went ahead again when Neil Kilkenny fouled Cole before firing home. Maynard made it 3-1 to the visitors ten minutes after half-time, but Hitchcock made a game of it with a good finish midway through the second half. "I am disappointed the referee didn't see the knock on the 'keeper's hands that their lad admitted that he did for their second goal," said Reid. "The other two goals we conceded were bad goals, from our point of view. The centre-half, Soukouna, lost his position for the first one, for once in the game, but otherwise was outstanding. Cole couldn't do anything about the goals, he was positive, his positional sense was good, so there were positives there, as well." The Argyle side did not include Damien Johnson, for whom a move to Huddersfield is still a possibility. "Damien had a reaction after training, a slight groin problem," said Reid. "It was no use risking him. He is one of those players who is a really good professional and knows how his body reacts, so he'll get himself fit." Reid was helped in Friday night's preparations by his brother Shaun, whose usefulness does not extend just to football. "He's just come down to help us out," added Reid. "He costs nothing and stays in digs...and does my cooking." Argyle: Cole, Berry, Nelson, Soukouna, Williams, Daley, Walton, Fletcher, Hughes-Mason, Hitchcock, Elding. Subs - Pearce, Richards, Copp, Young, Harper-Penman, Sims (not used - Larrieu). Attendance - 1,978.
Plymouth City Council leader Vivien Pengelly has accused Argyle of 'pricing out' young football fans. The club has axed cut-price season tickets for under-23s and is also closing four popular blocks of seating in the Lyndhurst Stand. Pengelly has urged a rethink, accusing bosses of ignoring the city's student population. She said: "I think it is absolutely shocking that the new Argyle regime are not taking into consideration that we are a student city. We have 30,000 students at the university." But Peter Ridsdale said few students were attracted by season tickets. "There are very, very few people in that category," he said. "One of the reasons we're bust is that we weren't charging some people enough to come and watch us. We consulted with the supporters groups in advance and believe we offer great value."
A 'rescue plan' has been launched aimed at saving Argyle, if the drawn-out takeover of the club collapses. James Brent, Vivien Pengelly and supporters' groups formed a united front during talks in the city yesterday. They are preparing a rescue package that could see the council buy back Home Park in case a deal with property firm Bishop International Limited falls through. Brent stressed the plan was not aimed at derailing the current deal, but he said: "If the need arises, I would be delighted to play my part. There is certainly a will to see something happen, although there would be support required from a number of other people. I have no doubt that if the current bid didn't happen a lot of people would work very hard and conscientiously to make a rescue happen." The plan would see the council buy Home Park as part of a deal that promises to be favourable for Argyle's staff, barely paid this year. Pengelly is understood to have vowed, if necessary, to try and push the decision through before Argyle kick off their season on August 6th. "We will look at all the options open to us," she said. "It is inconceivable that a city of Plymouth's stature will be without a club playing in the Football League". Argyle Fans' Trust chair Chris Webb added: "I am more confident than ever that we can have a viable plan in place, if needed, that would save this football club. Our rescue plan involves the fans, the council and a reputable businessman working in unity. No other bid has that." Kevin Heaney has been unwilling to speak openly about the deal but it is understood an original joint venture partner pulled out of the deal, now said to be backed by a stock-exchange-listed Irish developer. Ridsdale met bosses from the PFA and Football League yesterday to discuss how the club can claim back its 'golden share' in the league. The Football League told him more work is needed before they discuss the proposals further. The club issued a statement last night claiming the governing body had given the takeover the 'green light' then retracted it. But Ridsdale said the proposed ownership structure had been approved in principle during the talks in Preston. "We know what we need to do," he said. "I'm now even more convinced that with the time left open to us the only plan that can get this club the share back in time is this plan. I think if this deal disappears then the support of the Football League and PFA will disappear with it." A Football League spokesman said: "The club have been provided with what they need to achieve in order to continue the process." The retracted Argyle statement read: The Football League and PFA have responded positively to Argyle's plans to exit administration. Acting chairman Peter Ridsdale attended meetings on Friday with the Football League at their Preston headquarters, and, later, with the PFA - the players' union. "They were excellent meetings," said Peter, after emerging from the twin rounds of discussions and before travelling to Plymouth for Friday's pre-season friendly against Bristol City. We achieved a real clarity of purpose - both meetings confirmed what now needs to be done. There was a real unity, and a mutual desire to ensure the club achieves its aims. I am happy that I know what issues we have to resolve, and confident we can do this in a timely manner. I would like to thank the Football League and PFA for the way they handled today's meeting."
Trialists Tom Hitchcock and Anthony Elding are set to lead the attack for Argyle in the pre-season friendly against Bristol City tonight. The club are in talks about signing Hitchcock on loan from Blackburn Rovers and he arrived in Devon yesterday, in time to meet the Argyle squad for the first time this morning. Elding has 12 months remaining on his contract at Rochdale but spent the second part of last season on loan to Stockport County. At least three more, possibly four, trialists will line up for Argyle against City. They include Jake Cole and Luke Daley. There will also be first run-outs for new recruits Durrell Berry and Robbie Williams. Meanwhile, Argyle have made an improved offer to Stephane Zubar as they try to keep him at Home Park. Zubar's previous contract ended on June 30th, and he is now a free agent.
Durrell Berry will step onto the Home Park pitch for the first time when Argyle play Bristol City tonight and is expected to play at right-back despite having sat out some of the training sessions this week with a sore hip. Berry said: "I have had a little niggle on my hip, and I have only trained once this week, but I should be fit for the game. It will be a tough test for us. They have got some good players, but so have we. We will give it our best shot and, hopefully, we can get the result. I haven't really been around the ground properly. But I have had a quick glimpse of the pitch and it does look very nice." Berry hopes to get a taste of regular first team football as Argyle try to rebuild after two successive relegations. He added: "Plymouth are a big club. It's a shame they have gone down two seasons on the trot but, hopefully, we can push for promotion this year." The uncertainty which still surrounds the future of Argyle did not put off Berry from deciding to make the move to the south-west. He said: "To be honest, I don't really know much about that side of it, only coming in a couple of weeks ago. It didn't put me off. I'm just here to play football and do the best I can. I can do a job at right midfield but right-back is my favourite position. I want to get as many games under my belt as I can and take it from there." Berry also believes he can learn a lot from Peter Reid. "A few people have told me he's a great manager, so it's good to work under him," he added.
Peter Reid is searching for a new striker following Liam Dickinson's exit. He said: "It's a shame, but these things happen. We've just got to get on with it. We're short all through the squad and actively looking every minute of every day for players, especially in those forward positions." Meanwhile, Reid continues to await an answer from Stephane Zubar, who Argyle have offered a new contract. He added: "There is no update on Stephane at this minute. I've just put the phone down on his agent and it's an on-going situation. I haven't got a timeline. I'm going to speak to the boy in the next couple of days and try and get the deal done."
Under-10s will be admitted free to all areas of Home Park this season, if accompanied by an adult season-ticket holder. Previously it had been decided to admit under-10s free only to the family Area. Peter Ridsdale said: "We have carried out a thorough review of our season-ticket pricing and we have listened to what our fans are telling us. As a result, we are going to re-introduce the free Under-10s season-ticket for any area of Home Park for people who are renewing their season-tickets. Fans should be pleased that we are now one of a very small minority of clubs to offer free seating to under-10s anywhere in their ground. The initiative was the brainchild of the Football League, who intended it to be adopted by clubs in their Family Areas to boost those sections of grounds. We are very proud of our Herald Family Area and, in the fullness of time, intend to make further improvements to it, making it even more of a friendly and fun environment for children. When that time comes, the free under-10 season ticket will apply only to the Family Area. In the meantime, we hope fans will respond positively to our rethink and buy their tickets for the new season so that we can plan for a bright future." Ridsdale is not expecting to make any further concessions to season-ticket pricing for the new season. He said: "Our review looked again at the decision to mothball sections 15-18, and the financial reasons for doing so remain compelling. The savings we make on policing, stewarding and other associated costs are considerable."
Liam Dickinson has been released by Argyle, leaving Home Park just days after agreeing a contract, citing personal reasons for his departure. Peter Ridsdale said: "Regrettably, we have agreed to a request from Liam to be released. We fully understand the reasons why. Liam has been a thorough professional in the short time he has been with us, and we hope that things will work out for him."
A young Argyle side won 2-1 at Torpoint Athletic last night, both goals scored by Jed Harper-Penman. Adam Sadler was pleased with his side's victory, and was equally impressed with the opposition, too. He said: "I was really pleased with Torpoint and we'll definitely be coming back during the season if we can get a game at the same high quality as that. It was a brilliant start and I was really pleased with the quality of opponent that we got tonight because it meant that we were going to have a real good competitive game for our young players in their first outing of the pre-season. The physicality of it is good because that's the kind of test that the young players don't tend to get in the under-18 alliance on a Saturday so it's a different type of game, something they won't be used to, but if they want to make that transition from youth to senior football then they're going to have to get used to it." Whilst it was Harper-Penman amongst the goals, a special mention went to Luke Young whose accuracy set up both goals. Sadler added: "We know Youngy has got that in his locker, he's got a range of passes and he is, as I'm sure I've said before, a very good technical player. I'm really pleased with Jed because he probably doesn't get as many goals as he should do and what we saw tonight were two outstanding finishes, especially the first one." And as for the trialists? "I think it's always difficult for any trialist so I don't want to speak too soon on that," said Sadler. "They key is that they've got a game under their belt, they've had an opportunity to play with some team mates and will have hopefully built up some kind of rapport with the other lads to get them ready for the next game. The lads that have played tonight will have a recovery session tomorrow whilst the other more senior players have a normal session. And then of course we're working towards the game on Friday night, against Bristol City, which should be a really big test." Argyle: Cole, Pearce, Nelson, Trialist, Richards, Daley, Young, Copp, Harper-Penman, Sims, Vassell. Subs Ord, Bray-Evans, Hart, Clarvis, Berry.J, Lecointe, Harvey.
Onismor Bhasera is ahead of schedule in his recovery from a a cruciate knee ligament injury. He has spent a lot of time in South Africa, where he is based, since suffering the injury in March but returned to Plymouth last week and had his progress assessed by Paul Atkinson. Bhasera also travelled to London where he saw the specialist who carried out the operation to repair his torn anterior cruciate. Peter Reid said: "He was over here last week doing rehab. We monitored his progress and where he's up to, and he was ahead of schedule. We had a chat with the boy and we have allowed him to go back to South Africa. He's very conscientious, so he will be doing his rehab over there, and then we will call him back in a month when he's due to see the specialist again."
Peter Reid has confirmed his interest in signing Blackburn Rovers striker Tom Hitchcock on loan but insisted no deal had been struck yet. He told said: "We are having a chat with Blackburn about him. That's all I can say at the moment."
Rory Patterson has made a formal complaint to the Football League and the PFA over his treatment by Argyle. Patterson refused to sign a deed of deferral over his wages for June and was threatened with being sacked by the club's administrators. But the Football League and PFA have made it clear they will not accept Patterson being dismissed because he comes under the football creditors' rule. The same applies to Kari Arnason, who also refused to sign a deed of deferral in June. Peter Ridsdale has given Arnason permission to find another club and he recently had a trial with Hearts but was not offered a contract. Patterson has not taken part in any pre-season training with Argyle, which started on July 4th. He is, instead, at home in Northern Ireland because he cannot afford to return to Plymouth. Ridsdale said: "As we speak at the moment, I have got a responsibility for his contract until next June. If he doesn't turn up for pre-season training, I will try to do a compromise deal with him. If he gets himself a club in Northern Ireland, for example, which is a possibility, I would pay him the difference in his wages." Had they signed their deeds of deferral for their wages in June, both would have received 50 per cent of their money, according to Ridsdale. He explained the club's players and staff will now get a slice of their salaries for July, after being asked to defer 100 per cent of their money for the month. That follows the transfer of Joe Mason to Cardiff City over the weekend.
Peter Ridsdale is trying to reach an agreement with Huddersfield Town over Damien Johnson. He confirmed that was with the full knowledge and approval of Johnson and his agent. Huddersfield want to sign Johnson on a permanent transfer and are prepared to pay part of the wages he is owed for 2011/12, with Argyle coming up with the rest. Now it is a case of the two clubs trying to reach a compromise on the amounts involved. Ridsdale said: "What Huddersfield have done is make a proposal about how much they are prepared to subsidise his wages. Their initial offer didn't make it work for us, but they have come back with more money. Hopefully, there is a deal to be done."
The following statement was issued today: 'Brendan Guilfoyle, partner at the P&A Partnership, confirmed today (July 12th) that negotiations are underway with the Football League to get their consent for a transfer of Plymouth Argyle Football Company Limited's 'golden share' to Peter Ridsdale's new company, Plymouth Argyle (125) Limited, before the start of the new season. Season tickets are now on sale at the club following last week's deal signed with Bishop International Limited and Plymouth Argyle (125) Limited, and confirmation of funding in place.' Guilfoyle said: "This deal is critical to the survival of the club as it prepares for the new season. While we can understand why fans are still looking at other options, it is important that everyone appreciates that the sale of the club to Plymouth Argyle (125) Limited and the sale of the stadium and surrounding land to Bishop International Limited must go through to secure the football club's future. There will be no other 'rescue plan' in the tight timescale we have. I want to thank fans and staff for their continued support through this difficult period and would ask them to back both Plymouth Argyle (125) Limited and Bishop International Limited. The club will need their support as they prepare for the new season, including seeking sponsors and finding new players."
Peter Reid has tipped Joe Mason to be a success at Cardiff City. He said: "I know Malky Mackay likes his teams to get it down and play the ball into people's feet, so that should be absolutely ideal for the boy. This move is a chance for him." Mason made 34 appearances for Argyle last season and scored seven times, two of which came in a 3-2 defeat at Huddersfield Town in January. Reid said: "Towards the end of the season, I thought he struggled in games, but I can remember him playing up front at Huddersfield when we were down to ten players, and then nine, and he was absolutely magnificent, so he has got the ability. He's a smashing lad and he has got this opportunity now. We couldn't stand in his way. He turned down the chance to sign for Swindon Town in January, to try to help the football club. Joe Mason doesn't owe anybody anything, and good luck to the boy."
Peter Reid has decided not to pursue any interest in trialist Andy Crompton. He said: "He's a good technical player, but he just wasn't what I was looking for in terms of strength." Luke Daley is still on trial and Reid added: "He had a good first week. He's a quick wide man, and we had a little 11 against 11 practice match and he got a nice goal. We're having a prolonged look at him."
Peter Reid is refusing to concede defeat in his attempts to bring Stephane Zubar back to Home Park. Zubar's brother, Ronald, plays for Wolves and has arranged for him to train with them while he decides on his future. Reid said: "Stephane is still mulling things over." Zubar was in Plymouth last Monday but did not take part in training, instead, confirming to Reid that he was still considering a new offer from the club. Reid added: "He came down for a chat, and it was good to see him. I think, genuinely, he likes Plymouth Argyle and the supporters, but there is interest from other clubs." Reid also confirmed that one of his targets was former Preston North End defender Neal Trotman.
Two more trialists have joined the Argyle squad for pre-season training. Former Barnet goalkeeper Jake Cole and French midfielder Ladjie Soukouna will both spend a period of time with the side at UCP Marjon ahead of Friday's game with Bristol City at Home Park. Cole began his career at QPR before loan spells with Hayes, AFC Wimbledon, Farnborough Town, Oxford United and Barnet. Following his release from Loftus Road, Cole signed permanently for Barnet. Soukouna is a 20-year-old midfielder from French club US Creteil-Lusitanos. He previously had a trial with Brighton & Hove Albion in April and has been highly recommended to Peter Reid by a French contact.
Joe Mason today completed his transfer to Cardiff City, for an undisclosed fee thought to be around £250,000.
Joe Mason looks set to join Cardiff City and was in Wales yesterday discussing personal terms and taking a medical ahead of what is expected to be a three-year deal. Peter Ridsdale would not comment on reports that a fee, thought to be £250,000, was agreed on Thursday but said: "Regrettably, if we have players of value, we are using that to get from where we are now to getting the new company formed. This football club has not had any money to fund the administration process and ensure we make the last leap to getting the Football League share. We need to make sure we have cash for staff, and to get new players in. When I spoke to Joe, he made it absolutely clear he wanted to pursue this opportunity." Season tickets went on sale yesterday and regarding that Ridsdale said: "I think, given what the club has been through the last six months, it's clear for all of us interested in Argyle's future to show commitment to the club and get behind us by buying season-tickets. There's no risk to the money, it will be ring-fenced. This is a chance for fans to show their faith and confidence in the new regime. The importance of buying season-tickets cannot be overstressed. In our current financial position, season-ticket sales represent a large proportion of our income."
Luke Young and Jamie Richards have both signed their first professional contracts. Young and Richards put pen-to-paper on their one-year and three-year deals respectively yesterday. "I'm absolutely delighted." said Young. "Considering that I've been at the club since I was nine, then to get the two-year scholarship and then at the end of that to get the first professional contract that I've been working towards for all these years, is really special. Obviously, Argyle are the biggest club in the area so, being local, it means even more. It's good to not have to move, too. I can live at home with my family and just concentrate on my football." Young made his debut last February and has since made several first-team appearances. It was a promotion that took him by surprise, and he added: "It was bit of a shock. I missed a lot of the pre-season through injury so I was hoping to get a regular start in the youth team and an occasional start in the reserves. So, when I got my first call-up to the first team, it was a really good feeling. This season, I'd love to become a regular in the starting line-up. If not, I'll continue to get my head down and keep working hard in training and hope the gaffer picks me." Richards has had less exposure than his older team-mate but was equally delighted to join the professional ranks. "Like Luke, I've been at the club a long time and it has always been my goal to become a professional footballer ever since I was a little boy," he said. "Over the years, it's got closer, getting an apprenticeship and now the professional contract. It's great to be still with the club that I developed at so I can pay them back for what they've done for me. I win my tackles and I win my headers. I don't try and do anything fancy, just do my job and give the ball to the midfielders. I'll keep working hard in the hope of impressing the gaffer and getting a chance in the first-team."
Representatives from supporters' groups challenged chairman Peter Ridsdale and lead administrator Brendan Guilfoyle at a meeting at the club yesterday, having heard that staff have once again been asked to defer their wages. Ridsdale pledged to work with fan groups to help workers, and Guilfoyle stressed his commitment to pushing the takeover deal "across the finishing line". Ridsdale stressed: "All of us are trying to save this football club. When I arrived in November it was bust. The people trying to save it are the staff, us and the supporters. We are trying to make sure that when the season starts we can all look back on this horrific period and put it behind us. If all goes to plan, in the next few weeks this football club will be in different hands, with staff in secure employment and with a real chance of moving forward again from the depths of despair. Everyone needs to be in it together." After the meeting, Argyle Fans' Trust chairman Chris Webb said: "It was a positive meeting, emotional to start with, but we put across the concerns of the fans and we feel that Peter Ridsdale and Brendan Guilfoyle took it on board. We think they are starting to realise the necessity to look after the staff prior to fans and supporters buying into the season ticket sales. We hope to see some movement with staff pay in coming days and weeks. We all want to start thinking about football as opposed to finances and administration." Mark Russell, secretary of the Green Taverners, who have led a hardship fund for long-suffering staff, said supporters had raised around £80,000 in recent months for employees. He said: "I think it's important that the focus on the upcoming events is for as much money as possible to be raised for the staff."
Argyle have announced their season ticket prices for the new campaign. An adult ticket, anywhere in Home Park, will cost £340 and there are concessions for the over 65s (£250) and 10-17 year-olds (£120). Instalment payments are again available, with supporters able to spread payment over either four or eight instalments. All season-ticket money will be 'ring-fenced' and held by the Administrator until the club is officially out of administration. In the event that the sale does not complete, season-ticket monies will be returned to customers. In a newsletter sent out to existing season-ticket holders, Peter said: "By buying a season-ticket, you can make a significant contribution to our progress, off and - most importantly - on the field. We can only succeed in that if we move forward together: the club, the Green Army, the city and the entire Argyle community. You have been magnificent in your support during our troubles, and I know you will continue to back your team."
The BBC are reporting that Argyle have agreed a £250,000 deal with Cardiff City for Joe Mason.
Peter Reid has revealed that Robbie Fowler has given serious thought to a role as player-coach at Argyle for the 2011-12 season, but his goal-scoring achievements and international fame have dashed Argyle's hopes, with the 36-year-old taking up an offer to extend his playing career in Thailand. Reid said: "It's a great pity Robbie has changed his mind. He was serious about joining me at Argyle. Robbie's goal-scoring record speaks for itself. He remains a famous footballer, and that's why the Thai side went for him. When I spoke to him, he said: 'I'm sorry, I've had an offer from Thailand and it's too good to turn down'."
Bishop International, the offshore property company behind the takeover of Plymouth Argyle, signed its side of a sale and purchase agreement yesterday, and is now legally bound to complete the deal. The move locks the Gibraltar-based firm into completing the £5 million-plus deal if the Football League gives it the green light. However, it is believed that no money has yet changed hands, and rival bidders are still taking an interest. Devon investor James Brent last night promised not to stand in the way of the current deal, but declared fans' concerns 'justified'. The Argyle Fans' Trust has led calls for Bishop International to reveal the figures behind the firm and pay Home Park staff their wages in full. The staff, barely paid this year, are expecting to be asked to defer their July wages and to settle for a slice of what they are owed, rather than take their full backdated pay over a period of time. Under company law in the tax haven, there is no obligation to reveal the firm's true shareholders or directors, but Kevin Heaney, whose firm, Cornish Homes (UK) Limited, was liquidated with debts of £4.8 million in 2008, is understood to have launched the company as a joint venture with anonymous Dublin-based property developers. It will take control of Argyle's stadium and other land assets, becoming the club's landlord on a lease of at least 25 years and bankrolling part of the upcoming League Two campaign. Peter Ridsdale will buy the football club from the company for £1 and install current finance director David Jones as chief executive. A club statement said: "All parties will now move forward to undertake the work required for completion of the sale."
Speaking during a House of Commons debate secured by Labour MP for Plymouth Moor View Alison Seabeck, Oliver Colvile, Tory MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, said: "Plymothians are very proud of Argyle but are less enthusiastic about the directors who have caused so much angst. The then directors behaved, in my opinion, in an irresponsible manner. Perhaps someone could explain to me why normally sensible businessmen leave their business brains at the turnstiles when they get involved in football clubs?" Mr Colvile also raised the issue of how investors in the club's property stood to make money from Argyle's TV rights. He added: "Why are owners of football clubs allowed to play loose and free with monies which should be used to settle debts?" Despite a deal being signed over the future of the club, Ms Seabeck said: "While we know they have signed on the dotted line, it's still not clear if this is the end of the story. We may also never know who the mystery shareholders and directors from this Gibraltar-based company are. This lack of transparency is something that's hugely concerning." She also pointed to the "cloak and dagger stuff" surrounding the talks between the administrator and would-be bidders. Minister for Tourism John Penrose warned unless the football authorities got its "house in order" the Government would take action.
Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers Association, has criticised Argyle for sacking Kari Arnason. "The PFA are disappointed at the unjustified actions of the Administrators on behalf of Plymouth Argyle FC," Taylor said in a statement. "Such an action is a clear breach of Football League Regulations and also the Football League Insolvency Policy. The Football League support their regulations and also their insolvency policy and therefore players' contracts must be adhered to by clubs and administrators, and players must be reinstated or compromises agreed to settle the outstanding debt to the player or potentially the full value of the contract."
In a statement issued on the club's website last night, Brendan Guilfoyle confirmed that the preferred bidder, the administrator and Peter Ridsdale have agreed the terms of the Sale and Purchase Agreement regarding the assets of Plymouth Argyle Football Company Limited. The agreement has been signed by Guilfoyle and Ridsdale, and has been sent to Bishop International (the preferred bidder) for formal signature following agreement to the terms by their legal representatives. All parties will now move forward to undertake the work required for completion of the sale and the return of The Football League Share. The statement added that whilst an exact date for completion cannot be certain, the club will attempt to complete as close to the start of the new season as possible. Argyle Fans Trust chairman Chris Webb gave his reaction: "If the sale and purchase agreement has been signed, we need to see the money. Some of it has to go into running costs and paying players." The Trust are also calling for more openness around how the bid is being funded and how much money will be put into the club. Webb added: "When we met at the CVA meeting we were informed that an exclusivity deal had been signed which would bring upwards of £1m into the club. That money hasn't materialised. We've just been through a period where the club lived beyond it's means, where the club was run into the ground and went into administration and we don't want to see that happen again. This time it seems the saviour of the club has been the land and the football ground which development corporations and businesses have been able to look at and been able to eye for themselves and see profit. If we go down this route again, having sold off those assets this time, then God only knows where the football club's going to be." The Argyle Fans' Trust are set to meet Peter Ridsdale and Brendan Guilfoyle tomorrow.
It is reported today that private detectives have begun an investigation into the administration process at Home Park, on behalf of the group led by businessman Paul Buttivant. A bid from Mr Buttivant's consortium was snubbed in April when Brendan Guilfoyle said they had failed to prove their funds. Buttivant said: "For reasons given to us as to why our offer was not accepted at any stage, we have decided to engage the services on an investigative organisation to get to the bottom of it. We cannot justify why we were shut out so we have appointed a consultant to investigate the administration process. We are very disgruntled with the whole process and the continued charade of 'will they or won't they complete'. We remain interested and we are ready to do our due diligence but time has passed and we now don't know what sort of mess the club is in."
Liam Dickinson has become Peter Reid's third new signing of the summer and was introduced to his Argyle team-mates at pre-season training at UCP Marjon yesterday. The former Derby County, Barnsley and Stockport County striker joined fellow free agents, full-backs Robbie Williams and Durrell Berry, and trialists striker Andy Crompton and winger Luke Daley. But Reid cannot make any signings official until Argyle's takeover by prospective new owners is confirmed. But Dickinson is not fazed by the Pilgrims' plight and is keen to justify the manager's faith in him, and is confident enough to set himself a goal-scoring target. He said: "I like to think I've got everything that a striker needs. I'm tall 6ft 4in and I am quite mobile, can run the channels, and can compete. Everyone's got a target and as a striker I'm no different I'll want to make double figures this season. So, that's the target of 10 set in stone and I want to kick on from there." Dickinson feels his experience of helping Stockport to promotion via the League Two play-offs three years ago will be invaluable. "I played in this league for Stockport for a good two-and-half-years and we did well," he said. "It's a tough, scrappy league where everyone wants to win and any team can beat any other. But the gaffer wants us to do well playing football which is fine by me." Dickinson is relishing the chance to play football again and, when reminded, admitted he would be satisfied if he could reproduce the goalscoring form of his last visit to Home Park. Coming on as a late substitute, Dickinson scored two late goals which won a Championship clash 2-1 for Blackpool in November 2008, after Paul Gallagher had given Argyle the lead. He said: "I've been down here a couple of times and yes, last time scored a couple of goals for Blackpool, where I was on loan. Hopefully, I will be scoring in the opponents' net for Plymouth this time. But you need a couple of matches under your belt in order to get match-fit." Dickinson is hopeful that the move to Plymouth will be mutually beneficial for both him and the club. The Mancunian had enjoyed a meteoric rise, joining Derby from Stockport for £750,000 in 2008, before his career faltered and he ended up out on loan at a number of clubs, before Barnsley released him in the summer. He said: "Obviously, everyone knows I didn't have the best of seasons last year through injury and my performances weren't up to scratch. But I'm looking to revitalise my career, score goals and help Plymouth win promotion. The gaffer has seen me play before and knows what I'm all about. Clearly, the off-field situation has not been the best, but I've been assured that it's getting sorted and I believe it will be."
Argyle have announced more pre-season friendlies, including their first: a match against Torpoint Athletic at The Mill next Tuesday evening (7.30 kick-off).
Peter Reid is hoping that Stephane Zubar will accept a new contract offer and re-join the club. Zubar, whose contract with Argyle ran out on July 1st, was with Reid and a much-diminished Pilgrims' squad for the first day of pre-season training yesterday, although he did not take part. Reid made it plain that he views the 24-year-old as very much part of his Argyle rebuilding programme. "Obviously Stephane has finished his contract, but I'm desperate to get him back," he said. "I had a chat with him last night and he's now spending some time thinking over the offer. I'm hopeful he will rejoin us."
Speaking of Bondz N'Gala's sudden departure yesterday, the manager explained: "Bondz came to see me at the end of last season and said he was finding it difficult and wanted to find a club nearer home (London). I didn't have a problem with that. I'm just happy for Bondz that he's got himself fixed up and I wish him good luck."
Former Derby County and Barnsley striker Liam Dickinson is set to join Argyle's pre-season training, with a view to a permanent move if the 25-year-old free agent impresses Reid sufficiently this week.
Argyle and The University Plymouth St Mark & St John have announced a partnership that will see the Pilgrims use UCP Marjon as their pre-season training facility. The new arrangement will give Argyle shared access to a state-of-the-art £12.3m Sports Centre for their pre-season build-up, and further discussions could follow to develop a lasting relationship, making UCP Marjon the permanent training centre for the club. In addition to the professional facilities on offer, UCP Marjon staff are widely recognised as experts in their field, with a highly regarded sports therapy clinic and sports laboratory. UCP Marjon's Principal, Professor Margaret Noble, said: "We are very excited about building this partnership. UCP Marjon is widely recognised for its expertise in sport. Engaging with the City's professional sports teams further strengthens our profile, but, more importantly, the research opportunities gained by working with elite athletes directly enhances the knowledge of our expert academic staff, and, in turn, is of direct benefit to our students and our sport development work in the community." UCP Marjon recently invested £12.3 million into its new Sports Centre and facilities including: a state-of-the-art 25m swimming pool; full sized sand-dressed Astroturf; a 90-station fitness suite; a 12-court sports hall; grass pitches; a gymnasium; a sports therapy clinic; a sports science lab; a climbing wall; and a cafe. At the press conference to announce the arrangement, Peter Ridsdale said: "This season sees a fresh dawn for Plymouth Argyle Football Club. Our future success will be built on our partnership with the local community - and this starts today by working with UCP Marjon. UCP Marjon is a recognised Centre of Excellence in Sport, and Plymouth Argyle are delighted to be working with them. We are extremely grateful for their assistance and support at this point in our history. With their backing, I am confident, as well as excited, about the future development and performance of our football team. For me, this partnership makes perfect sense - for the team, for UCP Marjon, for the city of Plymouth, and for the continued development of sport in this region."
The training announcement came on the day that Argyle's wafer-thin squad returned for pre-season training. There were four news faces among the 11 Pilgrims who turned out at UCP Marjon: defenders Robbie Williams and Durrell Berry, and forwards Luke Daley and Andy Crompton. Williams, formerly with Barnsley, Huddersfield, Stockport and Rochdale, and ex-Aston Villa youth-team's Berry are set to join as soon as the club's Sale and Purchase agreement is resolved, while Norwich City winger Luke and ex-Oldham Athletic teenager Andrew are on trial. Also there was midfielder Damien Johnson, whose season-long loan at Huddersfield Town last season was cruelly interrupted when he ruptured the cruciate ligaments in his left knee. Stιphane Zubar, who is in talks with the club about a new contract, checked in to speak to acting chairman Peter Ridsdale but did not take part in any of the first-day sessions.
Missing from the first day back was Bondz N'Gala, who has joined Yeovil Town on a free transfer, even though he had a year left on his Argyle contract. N'Gala leaves Home Park after 37 appearances in just over a year with the club.
Argyle look set to complete their first signings of the summer. They are former Barnsley, Huddersfield Town and Rochdale left-back Robbie Williams and Durrell Berry, who is available after leaving Aston Villa. They have both agreed one-year contracts with Argyle, with club options for a further 12 months and will sign once the takeover of the club has been finalised, which is expected to be Monday. Argyle have also made an offer to a striker who has played in the Championship and a centre-back, and are waiting on word back from them. Argyle start pre-season training at UCP Marjon in Derriford on Monday and two trialists will be attending, Norwich City forward Luke Daley and former Oldham Athletic striker Andy Crompton.
A deal to sell off Home Park to property developers was set to be signed this morning but the Football League's chairman has promised the governing body will 'rigorously enforce' its regulations before giving the takeover the green light. Greg Clarke was speaking as city MPs joined supporters' groups in voicing their concerns over the deal. Bishop International Limited, an offshore company based in Gibraltar, was chosen as the preferred bidder for the club in May. The firm is a joint venture led by Kevin Heaney and a mystery Irish developer, who have plans to build a new south stand and cinema. As part of the £5million deal they would take control of the club's land, including Home Park, becoming Argyle's landlord. Ownership of the football club itself would be wholly assumed by Peter Ridsdal, who said: "The lawyers are cracking on but we agreed on everything and it appears to be coming together. The only thing it is conditional on is getting the Football League share back." The governing body must be fully satisfied the proposed takeover will put the club on a stable footing before transferring the share to Ridsdale. They must also be sure Heaney, despite being Argyle's landlord and initial financier under the proposed deal, will not be able to influence the running of the club. Clarke said: "You can be assured the League will rigorously enforce our regulations and our team is reviewing the information provided. I cannot comment further as this is a 'live' discussion." But he added: "The operations team in Preston handle this and will take as long as necessary to get this right. I am not personally involved but our board will review their recommendations as and when they have completed their analysis, which is an interative process with the administrator and potential owners." Ridsdale, who has previously owned Barnsley as part of a similar structure, said he was relaxed about the deal getting the go-ahead and is hoping the sale will be completed before the start of the season on August 6th. "I am absolutely adamant that nobody will have any external influence," he added. "This is a land transaction only."
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