A Round-up of Argyle News
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Also included on the three most recent days, facts from Argyle's history.
A deal to sell off Argyle's ground and stadium could go through by the end of this week, Peter Ridsdale said yesterday. Bishop International Limited, an offshore company, is the preferred bidder for the ground in a reported £5 million deal. Ridsdale, who would take control of the football club, said: "Our objective is to have it go through by the end of this week." The consortium bidding to buy the ground is being represented by Kevin Heaney and Brendan Guilfoyle, the lead administrator, said fears the Football League could veto the latest sale plan were wide of the mark. He said the latest deal would see the consortium of property developers buy the stadium and land at Home Park but the club itself would be owned outright by Ridsdale, who added: "Mr Heaney would only be the landlord of the property and would have nothing to do with Plymouth Argyle Football Club. As long as the club is independently owned and financed, there is no reason why the Football League should complain." Guilfoyle, speaking after a meeting with fans on Monday night, said: "It was a good meeting. The support and desire of everyone in the city is a big positive." He said that separate ownership of football club and ground was not unusual. "Without the stadium development I haven't found anybody who is willing to buy a loss-making business," he added. "Losses next year are predicted to be £1-2 million." And he praised the fans for 'outing' Heaney, who finally admitted his involvement when confronted at a secret meeting in Plymouth earlier this month. "They confronted him in Plymouth and he acknowledged his involvement with the consortium, which released me from a confidentiality agreement," Guilfoyle said.
Simon Walton is counting down the days to the start of pre-season training. He said: "I'm really looking forward to coming back for pre-season. Getting relegated was a downer for everyone but, personally, I was pleased with the way it went for me. My knee was fine, I just seemed to injure every other part of my body. I think playing in those games will stand me in good stead. Had I gone a full season without playing, I'm sure it would have taken me a bit longer to catch up. But I had seven pretty intense games in a short space of time, so I think I'm on a level playing field with everyone else." Walton will be one of a small group of senior players who report for the start of pre-season training, but turning up for the first day with so few players is not a new experience for him, having witnessed it when he was at Leeds United. He said: "There were six first team players on the first day of pre-season training that summer. So it's not quite as bad as that now. They were Gary Kelly, Michael Duberry, Matt Kilgallon, Frazer Richardson, Aaron Lennon and me. There was quite an influx of players after that, though." There has continued to be much uncertainty and speculation, about the future of Argyle over the summer and Walton admitted he was not sure what to expect when he reports for the start of pre-season training. He said: "The only formal contact I have had from the club was an email which asked me to sign a wage deferral. When we were in training last season, even though the communication wasn't great, we had an idea of what was happening. But when you aren't around the place it's a bit more frustrating. I don't think any of us have got a clue about what's going on. I dare say when something needs to be said we will be told." he added. Walton has 12 months left on a lucrative contract and Argyle are expected to try to do deals with players who are on Championship-level wages, such as Walton, Carl Fletcher and Damien Johnson. "I haven't spoken to anyone at the club, so I can't really comment on speculation about contracts," said Walton. "I have got a year left on mine, but I understand the situation. There are a few of us on wages which probably aren't sustainable in League Two. But, at the end of the day, we were offered those contracts by the club. I'm just looking forward to coming back and getting a nice, settled pre-season under my belt and, hopefully, being a part of the team this year."
Argyle expect a decision soon from Stephane Zubar about whether he will extend his stay at Home Park. Peter Ridsdale held talks with Zubar's agent on Friday and has been told to expect a decision on the contract offer imminently. He said: "There are two clubs in for him, one in the Championship and the other in League One, but he particularly likes playing for Argyle. We are still hopeful he will accept our offer, even though it's within our new wage structure." Peter Reid added: "I spoke to him on Sunday. He played over in America and apparently it went well for the boy. He has got a couple of other offers, but I'm still hopeful I can persuade him to come back. I thought he did smashing for us last season, considering what he went through."
Onismor Bhasera is scheduled to see a specialist today as he continues his recovery from a cruciate knee ligament operation. Peter Reid said: "He's due back to see the specialist today and, hopefully, it will all be positive. He has spoken to the physio and told him the knee is feeling okay."
Jamie Richards will step up to Argyle's professional ranks on July 1st, joining Luke Young as a first-year professional in the senior squad.
Damien Johnson is preparing to resume his career with Argyle following a successful and speedy recovery from a cruciate knee ligament operation. He said: "The rehab went really well. If we were still in the season now, I would be training and, hopefully, playing. I could have started training at the beginning of June, so I have had a few extra weeks to get myself ready. I don't see there being any problem with starting pre-season training. That's what I will be doing." Johnson is in a difficult situation because he is about to start the last year of a lucrative contract which is now a massive burden for Argyle. Johnson's loan deal at Huddersfield last season included a clause, which would have seen them sign him on a permanent transfer had they been promoted and he played 50 per cent of their games. Huddersfield are still interested in signing Johnson but his wages could be prohibitive, unless a compromise can be found. Johnson said: "A move to Huddersfield was dependent on them getting promoted and, obviously, that didn't happen. It just means I'm a Plymouth player again. That's how it is at the moment. I haven't had much dialogue with people at either club, to be honest. I intend to report back to Plymouth unless I'm told otherwise, and I have sorted out a flat from July 1st." Johnson has stayed in touch with Argyle physio Paul Atkinson during his recovery from surgery and, according to the midfielder, it went as well as he could have expected. Johnson added: "They always says it takes six to nine months to come back from injuries like this. But I was ready to start training after five-and-a-half months. It has gone really well."
Argyle are ready to launch a signing spree of players should the sale of the club be agreed, as expected, by the end of this week. Peter Ridsdale and Peter Reid have been involved in a series of negotiations over the past couple of days and Ridsdale is optimistic that, provided the buy-out is confirmed, the squad should be bolstered considerably by the start of pre-season training next Monday. He said: "I met the agent of two players on Friday and Peter and I were together on Saturday to talk to players and agents. There were further meetings yesterday. We are lining up players. Hopefully, with events that unfold with the sale and purchase agreement this week, we can bring them in for the start of pre-season training. You will probably find there will be an influx of six or seven players almost on the same day once we get the go ahead." Ridsdale also confirmed he had not received any bids for Curtis Nelson yet, but expects there to be some when clubs start to return for pre-season training. He said: "I'm a little surprised that haven't been any offers for Curtis. But I would have thought the sort of move he is likely to make would be at a fairly high level, and those clubs will be concentrating on bringing in multi-million pound players now. By the start of pre-season training I would expect to hear from people about Curtis. One Premier League club have spoken to me and while they didn't make an offer they said they would be back." However, Ridsdale has not ruled out the possibility of Nelson still being at Home Park come the start of the season. He said: "We haven't had any offers for him and unless that changes he will remain an Argyle player."
Peter Ridsdale has opened talks with the agent of Damien Johnson over the terms of his contract with the club. He said: "I have started talks with Damien Johnson's agent. I have had three sessions with him over the last 48 hours and we will continue to speak. We have got to get the wage bill to a level which we can afford. I would say we understand each other's problems without having found a solution." Ridsdale has not yet held similar talks with two of Argyle's other high-earners, Carl Fletcher and Simon Walton, but is planning to do so.
Rory Fallon has criticised the sacking of Kari Arnason and claimed Argyle's future remains bleak. Fallon labelled his dismissal as 'disappointing', particularly, he added, given the playing staff had not received wages for several months. The striker was unequivocal and pointed the finger of blame at administrator Brendan Guilfoyle, saying 'you've got people in there who don't care about people, just about saving money'. Fallon did not question the legality of the administrator's course of action but said: "The administrator has been giving us deferrals to sign each month... and one of the lads didn't sign his deferral and that gave them the option to release him. It's really bad times at Plymouth Argyle at the moment. The club's £17million in debt and the ownership issue hasn't been resolved yet. They don't even having a training kit yet. Unfortunately, or maybe it's a blessing in disguise, I'll be looking for pastures new."
Peter Ridsdale released the following statement today: "This morning, June 25, 2011, the Plymouth Herald attributes opinions regarding Paul Buttivant and his assertion with regard to my role in the administration process and the selection of the preferred bidder. I have met Mr Buttivant once. On that occasion, he asked what my aspirations were regarding any ongoing role at Plymouth Argyle. I told him that my only desire was to see Argyle saved and that I had no desire for any ongoing role, post administration. I said I was prepared to consider one, if offered, but was equally happy to walk away if the new owners had their own management. This remains the case. For Mr Buttivant to suggest otherwise and to use this as a reason why his supposed bid has not been successful with the administrator is absolutely false. I suggest that he and any others who are attempting to give his bid credibility need to concentrate on the bid itself and not some false sideshow of the status of my role. Argyle's future is currently on a knife-edge. The responsibility for completing a sale of the business remains with the administrator. My focus has always been, and remains, on trying to ensure that the football club is in a position to start the new season and to get the Football League share back. This is by no means a foregone conclusion. Alongside the hard-working and dedicated staff and with the continued help and support of Argyle fans, there is a chance for success to come out of the debacle of the historic mismanagement of the football club. When one writes down the work that still needs to be done to start the new season, it is a daunting, if not impossible, task. I urge everyone who cares about the future of the club to work together and leave the task of successfully completing the buy out to the administrator."
Kevin Heaney is part of the consortium poised to do a deal for Argyle, according to sources, it was reported today. An offshore company called Bishop International Limited is said to be the preferred bidder for the club and insiders claim the firm, based in Gibraltar, is a joint venture between Heaney and business associates. Administrators described the mystery backers as Irish property developers, led by a Dublin-based multi-millionaire. But it is understood Bishop International, which under Gibraltan company law is under no obligation to reveal its true shareholders or directors, is the firm to have agreed the terms of a sale. Administrator Brendan Guilfoyle declined to comment, saying he was bound by a confidentiality agreement. Speaking earlier this week, Heaney denied he was part of the consortium. "I'm not involved in the financial side," he said. "Although I'm a developer, I'm a big football fan and I'm a good ally for the consortium with my links down here. I'm a happy Truro City chairman and I can't own two football clubs anyway. The reality is I've got a great friendship with Paul Stapleton, who I think has been treated abysmally, and I feel for the Plymouth supporters and I want to help." The report also stated that Lombard, who have a £2.1million mortgage on Home Park, are to be offered at least a 90 per cent return by the consortium. Former club directors are understood to have personally guaranteed that debt, fuelling speculation they could be involved in the secretive deal. The proposed takeover will also offer Mastpoint more cash back than other bidders. Peter Ridsdale would assume 100 per cent ownership of the club if the sale goes through and Bishop International would buy all land assets, become the clubs landlords and aim to bring their building plans to life. They would bankroll the first season, but Argyle must then survive on their own. The Football League are likely to seek identification of the deal's financiers. They will get the final say on whether the takeover goes ahead, but will not comment on the matter until they have seen the final proposal. But it is understood they and the PFA are insisting the consortium pays 100 per cent of the club's unresolved 'football creditor' debt, currently £3.2million and rising. However, it is understood Heaney has indicated the full amount, which includes staff and players' unpaid wages, will be paid in full, though potentially over a period of several years. Staff at Home Park, who have been told to expect just 30 per cent of their pay-packets this month, will get 50 per cent if a £100,000 'instalment' from the consortium, due yesterday, arrives. Guilfoyle said he wanted to have takeover contracts signed by the end of next week, with the sale going through by August 6th. "To do the deal with other parties would be incredibly difficult at this stage," he said. James Brent and Paul Buttivant also tabled bids. Buttivant's was rejected by administrators, who said his consortium failed to prove it had the cash. He believes he was shunned in favour of a solution involving Ridsdale, who would have been disposed of as chairman under Buttivant. He said: "Whilst we are disappointed, and we remain interested, we are more concerned for the fans, the club and the community. We hope that history doesn't present itself again. We're concerned that there seems to be a fragmented approach to this deal, with different groups taking different assets. That does not provide any stability for the community or the club." Brent added: "I am keeping my fingers crossed that the preferred bidders perform next week and that Plymouth Argyle starts the next chapter of its history as a sustainable and successful football club."
Kari Arnason is starting a pre-season trial with Hearts after his sacking by Argyle. The club dispensed with the services of the midfielder for refusing to sign a deed of deferral over his wages for June. Brendan Guilfoyle took the action because, otherwise, he would have had to assume personal liability for the money. Rory Patterson is also facing a similar situation to Arnason, after failing to sign a deed of deferral for this month. But, according to a source, he has received 'no confirmation, either written or verbal' that he will be dismissed. Guilfoyle insisted he had no option but to take the action he had done against Arnason. However, despite his dismissal, Argyle are, for the time being, holding onto Arnason's registration as a player. Guilfoyle said: "He refused to sign the deferral form and that put him at risk. He has been dismissed, but we have given consent for him to find another club. He knew what the implications of what he has done would be, if by the 14th day he hadn't signed the deferral he would be dismissed. He has walked into this knowing what he was doing. We had no alternative." A third Argyle player, Ryan Leonard, has not signed a deed of deferral for June, but is set to be released by the club at the end of this month anyway.
Following the announcement that Kari Arnason had been given a free transfer, the midfielder spoke to a national newspaper to confirm that in actual fact he had been sacked by Argyle for refusing to sign another wage deferral. He said: "You do a club a favour by playing without wages for seven months and then get sacked. I wasn't expecting goodwill as football is a business. But you don't expect to be fired for not signing a document saying you will not get paid in June. I could have given the club 14 days' notice as soon as my wages stopped but I carried on. We were not paid in November but we were not too worried. No one knew about the financial situation of the club. They started selling everyone in January and we heard the club owed £1m to the taxman. At one stage we were offered a percentage of our wages but we decided to give it to the office staff. Then the administrator came in in March and we signed the deferrals. A lot of the boys were struggling. One player has five kids - another one lived with me due to his financial situation. After another month not being paid, I decided I would not agree to defer my wages and told them that on June 10. My agent then received an email from the administrator saying I had been sacked. Maybe I'll get my money - maybe I'll be reinstated - but it's a strange situation." Arnason added: "It's a short professional life. An average footballer plays until he's 32. Most of the guys don't have any education. I was lucky enough to do my business degree, so maybe I can get a decent job. But most are focused on football because in England you play from when you are a little kid. Wages wise, we are not talking about the Premier League. We do not all bank millions. I'm talking about the Championship, League One, League Two and Conference. It is a brilliant job but if you're not getting paid you have to ask some serious questions. At the moment, though, I am looking for another club."
Argyle have introduced a special badge for next season, marking the 125th anniversary of the clubs foundation in 1886. The crest reverts to the popular Mayflower insignia inside a shield with a couple of exclusive anniversary twists. As well as the standard scroll under the shield, containing the initials 'PAFC', there is an additional matching scroll above, emblazoned with '125 Years'. As a final touch, the whole crest is edged, not with the traditional white, but with an anniversary special gold. The design has been planned and executed in partnership with new kit manufacturers Puma and replaces the ship-within-a-circle motif introduced by the club's previous 'New World' board. As well as the anniversary crest, the club are also re-introducing the green-with-white-border Mayflower insignia inside a shield for non-anniversary products.
Kari Arnason has been told he can leave Argyle on a free transfer and he could be followed out of Home Park by Rory Patterson. Peter Ridsdale said: "We have given Arnason permission to go on a free transfer. He's looking for a club in Iceland to the best of my knowledge. I have told him he can do pre-season training elsewhere." Peter Reid added: "Kari worked hard for the team and good luck to him for the future." Patterson joined Argyle last summer on a two-year contract. Ridsdale said: "We have given him permission to find a club if he can. If he doesn't do that by July 4th then I assume he will turn up for the start of pre-season training, but I don't expect to see Arnason come back." Arnason and Patterson have not signed deeds of deferral on their wages for June. Reid added: "We need some players in anyway, but if we lose those two the squad is looking really threadbare. Hopefully, we can get some work done on that in the next few days."
Argyle 'will not be blackmailed' by the mystery property developers leading the takeover of the club. Council leader Vivien Pengelly has ruled out selling public land to the consortium and said: "They know loud and clear that whatever happens in Central Park has to stay within the Local Development Framework. We all want to see a new stadium there but we won't have any old monstrosity built in Central Park. One thing I want to make clear is we are not selling them any land." The LDF and Central Park Area Action Plan rule out large-scale retail units but allow for new sports and leisure facilities, an arena and a hotel, on club or council land. But Pengelly has been writing to concerned residents to reassure them the council will not be pressured into a land deal. "Nobody is holding a gun to our head," she said. "There is no way we would sell an inch of land to them. If that means Plymouth Argyle having to start again at the bottom then so be it. I'm a Plymouth Argyle supporter and I want to be able to buy a season ticket for next season but I will not be blackmailed." Kevin Heaney is working with the group, said to be led by a Dublin-based multi-millionaire. He has been labelled an 'adviser' and denies any part in the deal itself, but held a second round of talks with council planning officers last week. A third meeting has been set for the end of next week. It is understood that Chris Lowe, of Gloucestershire-based Rose Project Services, has been confirmed as project manager. He had the same role in a proposed scheme for Central Park led by Keith Todd last year. Heaney tried to buy the club in March through a company in his Russian girlfriend's name, registered at Paul Stapleton's accountancy practice. He is not allowed to own two clubs under Football League rules, though the governing body will not comment on whether it will be scrutinising the deal's financiers. Speaking earlier this week, Heaney said: "It's up to the consortium whether they take it to the next stage. I'm waiting to find out what they want me to do next. If the council isn't supportive of Plymouth Argyle then where does that leave Plymouth Argyle?" Meanwhile, former Argyle chiefs have been seeking a return to the Home Park boardroom, it has emerged. At least two former directors have sounded out Peter Ridsdale about the possibility of joining his new board. But Ridsdale said he was yet to consider who he would appoint, adding: "It will be as small a number as possible and it will only be people who can contribute to this club's rehabilitation."
Argyle fans are insisting the mystery consortium poised to take over at Home Park reveal themselves, before the deal is signed. Argyle Fans' Trust chairman Chris Webb said: "It's come to the point where they're on the brink, it seems, of purchasing the club yet not a single supporter knows who they are. We want and we deserve answers, not just for Plymouth Argyle fans but for the residents of the city. They should know who has what plans for Central Park. What have they got to hide?" Brenda Guilfoyle said he was unable to reveal any more information and Peter Ridsdale said: "What I can't do at this stage is start going through the finer details. These negotiations are complex and confidential at the moment. They don't want individual names to come out but I've been given cast-iron assurances and reassurances that the bid doesn't involve anybody previously involved in the club. What people need to realise is there is no other viable deal in town." Unresolved 'football creditor' debts of around £3.2million, including unpaid wages, must be settled before Argyle can exit administration. A deal must also be struck with Lombard over a £2.1million mortgage, understood to involve personal guarantees with ex-directors. Some have already had to shell out six-figure sums to Ticketus, which lent to the club against future season ticket sales, after the firm called in personal guarantees earlier this month. Home Park staff have already been told not to expect 100 per cent of the cash they are owed and the consortium are believed to have discussed whether they can deduct the amount fans have donated from that figure. Mark Russell, of fundraising group the Green Taverners, said that would be a 'stab in the back' for staff, many of whom had spent their hardship loans of food, rent and bills. Supporters have donated around £60,000 since the end of last year, enabling the Taverners to hand workers £100 a week. "Failing to pay the staff 100 per cent would be totally out of order and a stab in the back for the people who have kept the club running," Russell said. "They have stayed there on the promise that they will get their wages paid. It would show the preferred bidders are not interested in the staff and also raises questions about the money they have actually got. There is quite a strong campaign now for people to not buy season tickets." Webb added: "It would be a travesty if the former directors' liabilities are protected by way of short-changing the staff."
Argyle have yet to receive any offers for Curtis Nelson or Joe Mason. Peter Reid confirmed there had been an inquiry about Nelson but, so far, that interest has not been followed up. Reid said: "We have had one inquiry for Curtis from a Premier League club, but I haven't heard anything for Joe at this moment in time." Jack Stephens, Dan Barrow and Lloyd Jones have all left the club lately and Reid admitted the loss of such talented youngsters was inevitable given the clubs financial situation. He said: "I think sometimes it's needs must. You have got to look at it that way. The supporters certainly like homegrown players coming through, and so do I. I gave debuts to some last season. But the most important thing is the football club keeps going. That's the priority. You have also got to bear in mind that when a big club comes calling it's very difficult to keep young players."
A deal to buy Argyle out of administration has been agreed at talks in London. Administrator Brendan Guilfoyle gave the go-ahead to a mystery consortium of property developers late last night and the plans will now be sent to the Football League, who will have the final say on the takeover. Guilfoyle said: "I have agreed the terms of the contract and the structure of how the deal will be done. In effect, we have now agreed the sale of the football club to the preferred bidder. It is conditional on Football League approval but in essence we've moved on now and are ready to put the deal in place." A payment deadline of yesterday was missed, Guilfoyle said, but the £100,000 instalment has been sent by the consortium's solicitors and is expected to arrive by the end of the week. The deal will see Argyle's land separated from the football club itself. The backers want to buy Home Park and other land assets, with Peter Ridsdale purchasing the club itself for a nominal fee. The property developers would then agree a fixed-fee lease of at least 25 years for Home Park. They would also provide cash for Ridsdale to settle unresolved debts and cover next season's expected shortfall. The deal was agreed during four hours of talks at a London location last night. Ridsdale, Guilfoyle and lawyer David Hinchliffe were there, joined by a representative for the consortium, which is working with Truro City owner Kevin Heaney. He has been labelled as an 'adviser' for the group, who are understood to be looking to build a cinema and student housing beside Home Park. Guilfoyle added: "There has been a desire from everybody to get this deal done and a recognition that time is ticking and we need to get on with it. The backers are ready to do it. It is a conditional contract but I'm delighted to say it's all been agreed." Ridsdale said: "The amount that needs to be done is just unbelievable. I have no kit at the moment, I haven't sold any advertising and we don't have any sponsors. We haven't got season tickets on sale yet so at the moment there is no cashflow for next year. I've spoken to Reidy and he needs a team. We need 20 players and at the moment we've got 12-14 and a season to start." Ridsdale is also in talks with other clubs in a bid to offload high-earning players who are still under contract at Home Park. "The work I need to do in two weeks you would normally do in two months," he added. "We have to try and bridge the funding gap with player sales. We are talking to them and we're talking to other clubs." Heaney tried to buy the club in March but was told by the Football League that he was not allowed to have a financial interest in two clubs. He denies being part of the consortium but the Football League are understood to be seeking assurances that he will not be involved. A spokesman for the governing body would only say: "We are continuing to work with the administrator to achieve a successful outcome."
Peter Reid has stepped up his search for new signings for Argyle, despite the continuing uncertainty over the future of the club. Reid revealed he and Peter Ridsdale were busy working on player recruitment. The pair met one of their targets over the weekend, and they are set to hold talks with the agents of a couple of others. Reid admitted some players who he had been interested in had already been snapped up, but he still has many others in mind. It is likely that several trialists will be invited by Reid to pre-season training, which starts on July 4th. He said: "I do hope to have some players signed by then, I have got to say that. There are a lot of footballers who are out of contract, and there are a few I had on my list who have already got themselves sorted out. But there are still people out there I would like to get in as well. Whether that's possible, I don't know, but I'm working on that as we speak. Peter Ridsdale is working with me on this. We met one player at the weekend and will be chatting with the agents of one or two players over the next couple of days. I would hope to have one or two signed before we start pre-season training, but it's a case of wait and see at the moment." Ridsdale added: "I have spent quite a lot of time with Peter over the last couple of weeks talking about players we would like to bring in. We are just waiting to get the green light to do it." Reid confirmed he was not in discussions about bringing back any of the players who were released by Argyle at the end of last season. In addition to recruiting free agents, Reid will also explore his options when it comes to loan signings from clubs in higher divisions. He added: "I have had initial talks with some managers about taking on players. It was not about specific names, but just flagging it up in general. I had a favourable response."
Huddersfield Town are interested in signing Damien Johnson, but accept it will be difficult to complete a deal. Argyle would not stand in his way, but they would probably need to reach a financial agreement with Johnson first for that to happen. Huddersfield chief executive Nigel Clibbens said: "We have held initial talks with Plymouth and we are continuing to monitor Damien's situation. He did very well for us last season and is one of a number of names on our list of potential signings, but it's fair to say the financial position Plymouth are in, combined with the new salary cap regulations, will make it very difficult for any club to sign him."
Argyle have received a bye in the first round of the Devon St Luke's Bowl next season. They will enter the competition in the second round, where they have been drawn away to Dartmouth. No date has been set for the game, but the fixture must be played before the end of November.
Damien Johnson is expected to be fit for the start of pre-season training after making a successful recovery from the cruciate knee ligament injury which he suffered last December while on loan to Huddersfield Town. Argyle will begin pre-season training on July 4th with a series of fitness tests. Peter Reid had scheduled to start pre-season on June 28th but has put that back a week because of the continuing uncertainty over the future of the club. Johnson is one of only 11 players who are currently under contract to Argyle for next season. Reports suggest that Kari Arnason wants to leave Argyle, possibly to return to his homeland and club officials have not been able to make contact with Onismor Bhasera, who returned to Africa after suffering a cruciate knee ligament injury in March. Johnson signed on a season-long loan for Huddersfield last August and played regularly until tearing his anterior cruciate ligament. That brought his loan spell to a premature end, and saw him commence the rehabilitation process, which is now nearing completion. Reid said: "I have been told his fitness levels are really good. He looks likely to start pre-season training." Johnson has another 12 months on his contract with Argyle and his wages will pose a serious problem for the club, who will be operating under a salary cap next season. Huddersfield were ready to sign Johnson on a permanent transfer this summer had they been promoted and he played more than 50 per cent of their matches. Huddersfield manager Lee Clark is not thought to now have an interest in re-signing Johnson.
Peter Ridsdale believes Argyle have a 50-50 chance of re-signing Stephane Zubar. According to Ridsdale, Zubar is keen on a return to Home Park, despite all the problems at the club. Ridsdale said: "We are still in negotiations with him, but he has interest from two other clubs at a higher level. I think he wants to stay with us and we are debating what we can afford to pay him against his options elsewhere. I would say there is a 50-50 chance of sorting out a deal with him." One of the clubs thought to be interested in Zubar is Preston North End and the other interested party is believed to be a Championship side. Peter Reid said: "I was delighted with Stephane last season. I'm speaking to his agent and it's an ongoing situation at the moment."
Argyle staff have been that told they may never receive some of their unpaid wages. Some members of staff have been forced to quit after getting into debt and those who remain have been offered just half of their June salaries. They held a meeting with Peter Ridsdale yesterday to raise their concerns, and he said: "The mood at the moment is one of worry, because I've been honest with them. I can't guarantee at this stage that they will be given 100 per cent of the money they are owed." Football clubs are supposed to settle all footballing debts, including those to its staff, before they can exit administration. However, none of the bidders for the club appear willing to pay the £3.2 million bill in full. "All I'm trying to do is keep staff as up-to-date as possible," Ridsdale added. "This problem is not of our current making, it was created by the previous ownership."
Kevin Heaney has finally admitted his role in the consortium leading the race to take over Argyle. The property tycoon admitted the link when he was confronted by fans during a secret breakfast meeting with architects yesterday. Heaney held the talks at a Plymouth hotel, and was spotted poring over drawings of proposed developments for Central Park ahead of a meeting with City Council planners. Last night he admitted he was working as an adviser to the 'heavyweight' consortium, said to be Irish property developers. But Heaney, who is prevented from owing two clubs under Football League rules, insisted he was only interested in development opportunities. Argyle Fans' Trust chair Chris Webb spotted Heaney and, when confronted, he admitted his involvement. That triggered a flurry of activity behind the scenes which saw Peter Ridsdale issue a statement confirming Heaney's role. Heaney insisted he was working solely as an adviser to the group, whose names he would not reveal. But he insisted none of the club's previous directors were involved. He said: "They are talking to a number of developers and approached me to see if I would be interested. They came back to me to say: 'Would you, for our benefit, talk to the Council to find out what the potential is,' so I've been asked to come in as an adviser to the football club on how it can go forward. That's the only capacity I'm here in. I feel proud and privileged to be asked, but I'm a football club chairman and I'm extremely happy and love Truro City Football Club." Heaney also confirmed that cinema operator Cineworld was looking to build a multiplex beside Home Park. "That is one of the ideas," he admitted. "It's all discussion at this stage."
Argyle kick off next season with an away fixture at Shrewsbury Town on August 6th. The Football League fixtures were published yesterday and highlights include a trip to Sussex to meet newly-promoted Crawley on October 1st, while AFC Wimbledon visit Home Park on August 16th. Peter Reid believes if Argyle can attract and harness the 'fantastic support' of the Green Army, then they will be a match for anyone. He said: "Shrewsbury did fantastic last year and as an opener going up there is a tough one. But we've got a number of home matches in the first month and if we can get that fantastic support the fans gave us last season, despite all the adversity on and off the pitch, then we'll be playing with an extra man on the pitch in every match."
The following statement was released on behalf of Argyle today: There has been much speculation with regard to the identity and structure of 'The Irish Consortium' who are the preferred bidders for 'Plymouth Argyle Football Company Limited'( in Administration). Recent speculation has linked specific individuals to the proposed transaction. In light of the speculation it has now been agreed that the following statement can be released to assist in this process. The proposed purchase of the assets of Plymouth Argyle Football Club will be structured in two parts. As a part of the purchase, the land assets including the football stadium will be bought and placed in a property company. As the Property consortium have no direct interest in owning a football club they have asked Peter Ridsdale to assist in the process. If the Irish Consortium successfully conclude this deal, the football club will be purchased simultaneously by a new company which will be 100% owned by Peter Ridsdale. The property company will have no direct relationship with the football club other than as landlord. The football club will have long term security of tenure on the Football Stadium on a legally pre agreed rental basis and will comply with Football League regulations. There has been speculation that Kevin Heaney, a property developer from Cornwall may or may not have an interest or involvement in this deal. Kevin has now confirmed that he has been approached to participate in the property transaction as an advisor. As Kevin is already involved in professional football he cannot have any involvement in the ownership or running of a second club. Kevin has confirmed that his interest is property related only and that he will have no financial interest in Plymouth Argyle Football Club.
The property developers leading the race to buy Argyle were set for talks with the city council today. A representative of the consortium was due in the city to meet planning officers following an initial meeting with council planning officers last month. Council leader Vivien Pengelly said earlier this week that development restrictions on Central Park would not be relaxed. The preferred bidders agreed a £1million-plus 'exclusivity' deal with administrators that locks rival bidders out of the talks. But their first instalment was two weeks late and the next, thought to be around £200,000, is due on Tuesday. If it fails to arrive, administrator Brendan Guilfoyle will have to listen to other offers. But he remains confident of completing the sale, saying: "Nothing I'm doing is dependent on planning consent." James Brent is willing to return to the negotiating table if the deal collapses, it is understood. A consortium fronted by Paul Buttivant also remains keen and Peter Ridsdale met American investors in New York this week. "I'm still confident that everything will go alright with our preferred bidder," he said. "We have got other options in the background."
Peter Reid has forecast a 'good early test' for his Argyle side when they meet Millwall in the Carling Cup at Home Park in August. Reid also welcomed the home tie and said: "You're always glad to be at home at any time, especially in the cup. Millwall will provide a really good test for us, without doubt, and I'm already looking forward to playing them. Although the League Cup always comes early in the season, it does give a team the chance of going on a good cup run. And a good cup run at any stage is always welcome, as it can have a favourable impact on league form, too, with players gaining in confidence. So I really think this is a good home draw for us. The Home Park pitch is absolutely fantastic and it will give our fans a chance to see us against different opposition. Millwall have done incredibly well over the past couple of years and had a great year in the Championship last season. Kenny Jackett and Richard Shaw have built a decent team and so it will be a good test early on." With the Cup draw out of the way, attention turned to the League 2 fixtures. "It's always that part of the year when the enthusiasm starts to creep back in again." added Reid. "I've watched a lot of games this summer with the all the finals and the internationals so I've got the itch and I'm looking forward to getting back to pre-season training. Ideally I'd like us to be home on the first day of the season. Last year we had a difficult away game at Southampton that we handled well but I'd much rather be at home on the first day."
Argyle have been drawn to face Millwall at home in the first round of the Carling Cup. The tie will take place during the week of August 8th.
Stephane Zubar played for Guadeloupe in their 1-0 CONCACAF Gold Cup defeat to the United States yesterday, the result meaning that Guadeloupe were eliminated from the competition.
Peter Reid has expressed his relief that fixtures rather than ownership issues will come to the fore this week. He said: "Like everyone involved in football or who just love the game, a week after the previous season has finished I'm ready for the next campaign. So, I'm looking forward to see who we'll be getting in next season's league fixtures as well as the Carling Cup. It's a reminder to us all that the new football season is not very far away, as if we could forget. I'm going to have a small squad of players to manage this season, which isn't a problem for me. And so knowing who we will get in the league first and then in the Carling Cup is always an exciting time in the football year. Even though it's still officially the summer and today will be the first day of the third Test in Hampshire, the fact we'll have two sets of fixtures coming up one after another, just emphasises the fact that the close season in football is very small indeed. You only have to look at the number of international competitions that are going on at the moment, most notably the European under-21 tournament in Denmark in which England are involved, proves that. So, yes, I'm going to be very interested in seeing both sets of fixtures."
Peter Ridsdale has confirmed that Argyle will be compensated after losing two youth team players to Premier League clubs. Lloyd Jones and Dan Barrow have attracted the attention of Liverpool and West Bromwich Albion, respectively. Ridsdale confirmed that Barrow's WBA move had gone through, but the Jones deal has still not been completed. "I can confirm that our two centre of excellence youngsters, Barrow and Jones will be leaving us," said Ridsdale. "But I can also confirm that Plymouth Argyle will be well compensated, although everything on the financial side at the moment goes through the lead administrator. While we do not want to lose good young players, realistically and morally, you cannot stand in their way, once they've been allowed to speak to bigger clubs, like Liverpool and West Brom. Barrow's move to the Hawthorns has gone through and we have protected ourselves, so that we'll get compensation for him and that any future advancements by him, we will get money then as well. The lad's parents were persistent in pleading with us to let him go to West Brom and we couldn't in all conscience refuse them, and we wish him good luck in the future. As for the Jones' deal, that has still to be completed but we've agreed to the move in principle and again will not stand in his way. But we'll make sure that whatever happens, it'll mean good business for Argyle."
An off-shore company is behind the proposed takeover of Argyle, Brendan Guilfoyle has revealed. Concerns are rising about the consortium after it emerged they are using a Gibraltar-based firm to do the deal and speculation continues to mount over the possible involvement of Japanese banker Koichiro Abe and Truro City chairman Kevin Heaney, who has denied being part of the consortium. Guilfoyle revealed the investors were using an offshore account during a meeting with the Argyle Fans' Trust. Acting Trust chairman Chris Webb said: "All this does is add to the growing uncertainty, and re-emphasises the fact that the people trying to buy the club are trying everything to avoid being identified. Why? It's time they stepped forward." Guilfoyle has no concerns over the group using a tax haven, but admitted it was a way of them maintaining their anonymity. "I don't care who they are as long as they buy the club," he said. "I'd love to deal with an open and transparent group, but that's not the reality. I'm taking the same attitude as the Football League, they will need to know who is financing the deal before transferring the share." The group agreed to pay £1 million for exclusivity in the takeover talks last month, locking out other bidders. But their first instalment was late and the next, thought to be in the region of £200,000, is due next Tuesday. A final payment is due at the end of the month, when Guilfoyle is hopeful of completing the sale. "I am fully confident this group are going to complete once I get the next payment," he added. However, it is reported that there are three other potential backers, should the deal collapse. Peter Ridsdale is in New York meeting prospective investors. Bradley Rangell, a sports finance director at banking firm Citibank, represented a US consortium which was eyeing the club during talks earlier this year. Those discussions ended last month and Ridsdale would not comment on whether they had resumed. But he said: "Option A may or may not complete, but we need to make sure we at least have an option B, C, D, and so on. We are rapidly running out of time in saving this football club. I keep saying it, but this club is on such a knife-edge. Do I think it will be ready to start next season? I'm not sure at the moment."
Peter Reid will prioritise getting a solid backbone in his side once he has been given the go-ahead to start recruiting for next season. He has identified and already spoken to 'suitable targets' whom he can bring in to strengthen the team. Reid said: "I had a meeting with Peter Ridsdale over the weekend and we discussed mainly what the way forward was now for the club. Obviously, my priority is to strengthen the team, but the present situation regarding the non-payment of wages and the ownership mean mine and Peter's interests overlap. So, it's an interesting situation which we're hopeful will come to a conclusion at the end of the month or beginning of July. That's what I'm led to believe and although it's not perfect, I'm working towards that. The players report back for pre-season training on June 28, but we're thin in certain areas of the team. I want to have a spine firmly in place in my team running from the goalkeeper, through central midfield and then up front in the striker department. We've lost a number of first-team players, who were not offered new contracts after last season and consequently I'm looking at bringing my own choices in. It's going to be difficult, not least because I don't know when the wages situation is going to be sorted out. It will be, of course, and to that end I'm working hard on likely recruits. I've only one goalkeeper which will not be enough and I also believe in a strong central defence. We've got central midfield options, with Carl Fletcher, Kari Arnason and Simon Walton and Damien Johnson. But up front we're a bit short on options, so that's something I'd want to address. I've been told that I can have a maximum of 20 players in the squad while the club is in administration. That's more than enough for me to work with, but I'll need a strong spine – that's a must."
Liverpool have signed Argyle schoolboy centre-half Lloyd Jones. Reports suggest the clubs have agreed a compensation fee valued at between £80,000 and £100,000, with further payments based on appearances.
Stephane Zubar made his international debut for Guadeloupe on Saturday, as they were beaten 1-0 by Canada in the CONCACAF Gold Cup in Florida.
Peter Ridsdale is confident Argyle can meet the challenge of competing in League Two after being given the green light for next season from the Football League yesterday. Ridsdale said he received confirmation of backing for the business plan for next season from Brendan Guilfoyle and Carole Rowntree, who are both in Cyprus for the Football League AGM. Ridsdale said: "Obviously, knowing Argyle have been given the go-ahead to start the season is a major obstacle out of the way. Like the fans, I'll be excited to know who we've got next season when the fixtures come out on Friday. It's always an exciting moment in a football club's year. Knowing that is out of the way will allow me to press on with our business plan, which will include getting shirt sponsors, kit suppliers and also publishing season ticket details. It's good news, that's for sure. There is plenty of work to be done yet, but at least we know we're in business for the season ahead." One other factor which will affect Argyle in the upcoming is the Football League's plan, in principle, to adopt UEFA's financial fair play system. UEFA has introduced rules to try and ensure clubs balance their books and, hopefully, break even and now the 72 league sides have agreed to comply. Basically, the ruling is a salary cap and clubs are only able to spend a fixed proportion of their turnover on player wages. The Salary Cost Management Protocol (SCMP) in League Two will drop from 60 per cent to 55 per cent this summer. A problem for Argyle is that they have Simon Walton and Damien Johnson on lucrative contracts until June 2012. Ridsdale insisted Argyle will be able to abide by the new rules and live within their means. He added: "Yes, it'll be difficult because we've got players who are on very good salaries and we still have to bring new ones in. But our crowds I'm sure will be as good as any in League Two and we can operate for a season in administration if necessary, although I hope that's not the case. We can have a squad of 20 players while in administration, but again we have a few hoops to jump through yet. I'm sure we can meet the challenge."
Peter Ridsdale sees the Football League's backing of his rescue package as 'another step along the way to recovery' for Argyle. Ridsdale is confident League chiefs will give the thumbs up to his business plan at their AGM in Cyprus today. If the vote goes their way, Argyle will be playing in League Two next season and will be on the fixtures which are published next Friday. Having passed Wednesday's deadline when Argyle's creditors had their last chance to appeal against the Company Voluntary Arrangement, Ridsdale admitted there 'was light at the end of the tunnel'. He said: "I'm confident the vote in Cyprus by the Football League will go our way, and that puts the club on the paving stone to recovery. And the CVA appeal procedure is now over, so that's another step in the right direction. To be able to publish our season-ticket details for the new season will be a big relief both for us at the club and also the supporters. The bottom line is we'll be on the fixture list for 2011/12 which all football fans look forward to. They come out next week, but the important date for Argyle will be when the club's ownership is resolved and we can get everything on an even keel and start bringing in some cash. That's been the big problem for Argyle – their cash-flow problem. There are difficult times ahead yet but at least we seem to be on the road to recovery."
Peter Reid has been spending recent weeks busily pencilling in names to fill the gaps in Argyle's depleted squad of players. He said: "It's difficult at the moment, to say the least, but that doesn't mean I've been idle behind the scenes. Far from it. I can assure the fans that, like everyone else at the club, we just want to be given the green light to what Peter has put in place for the Football League meeting. Once that is ratified, then we can look at our options and not least, what we're going to do in terms of players and pre-season matches. But everything is waiting on today and the decision from that meeting." Reid has just 11 players under contract ahead of pre-season training and among those are Simon Walton, Damien Johnson and Kari Arnason, whose deals are worth more than the club can afford. Reid added: "Whatever happens, we're doing our best to be ready to face it. We know that we have players here on very good contracts and we need to do something about that before we can do anything about making the squad bigger. Nevertheless there are players out there who I'm looking at with a view to the future. For now it's just about waiting for the news about the season tickets. And it won't be too difficult to arrange some more pre-season matches. But for now it's just about waiting until we get the green light."
Peter Ridsdale is confident of providing Argyle fans with details of season tickets as soon as next week. He said he is awaiting the green light at the end of this week's Football League summer conference and annual general meeting. Although the club remain in administration and are awaiting new owners, Ridsdale said there is provision to plan ahead for the new campaign. These include giving fans the details of the season ticket prices and structure, although everything will be handled by the administrator on the clubs behalf. Brendan Guilfoyle will represent Argyle at the Football League meetings, which start today in Cyprus. Ridsdale said: "I think by Friday we'll be in a position to press forward with details of season tickets for 2011/12. I've put together a plan for the Football League to look at and I'm confident they will pass it. Everything will have to go through the administrator, Brendan Guilfoyle, but I don't envisage any problems. It's not an unusual situation for clubs in Plymouth's position. I cannot give details of the prices as yet, but hopefully by next week we'll be in a position where we can, via the administrator, be able to let fans know more." Ridsdale is also thought to be poised to sign a deal with Puma and has already chosen the colour and design of Argyle's 2011/12 strips. "I've been cracking on and I am confident of getting deals with potential shirt sponsors," he added. "I've been talking to shirt and short suppliers, who have offered to work with us once everything is clear. I don't want to be left having to play catch-up, so I have key deals in place."
Yannick Bolasie completed his transfer to Bristol City yesterday. Peter Reid was sad to see Bolasie leave but admitted, in the circumstances, Argyle had no choice but to take the action they had. He said: "The boy has got pace and can get behind people. But, like everyone else, he has got things to work on in his game. I was trying to get him to concentrate on his final ball, whether it was a cross or a shot, because I thought he wasted too many of them and gave it away in good positions. It's all right beating people, but you have got to have an end product to it. Also, when we got into goal-scoring positions he slashed at things too many times. But he's a boy who's willing to learn and it's just a matter of him working on things. If he gets that into his game, he has got all the attributes to be a successful player."
A representative of the consortium leading the race to buy Argyle has insisted they remain on track to compete a takeover. A representative of the group met with Peter Ridsdale yesterday afternoon amid concerns they could be falling short of the required cash. Ridsdale said he was given reassurances over their ability to fund the deal, which would see him handed the club for a nominal fee and the consortium gain control of Home Park. Ridsdale said: "They wanted to convey that they are totally committed and they have got the funding they promised.The representative that I met reassured me that, as far as he is concerned, everything is on track." The consortium insisted on a confidentiality agreement as part of a £1 million exclusivity deal with administrators that would hide their identities. The group signed the agreement, complete with the first of three six-figure fees, more than a fortnight late. But administrator Brendan Guilfoyle said neither of the two remaining milestone-based payments were yet due. He is now hoping to complete the sale by the end of this month, when exclusivity runs out. Legal issues have pushed the date back from June 14th, but Guilfoyle said: "There are no concerns from my end. They have demonstrated an ability to complete and they are all on course." Ridsdale is, however, preparing to operate the club in administration for up to a year, should it be necessary. The Football League is expected to decide by the end of next week whether the club can take its place in League Two next season. It will seek further details about the bid from Guilfoyle, who will travel to the governing body's annual general meeting in Cyprus next week, before deciding to hand back Argyle's 'golden share' in the League. The club can operate in the transfer market while the administration process is ongoing, but would not be allowed to begin successive seasons in administration. Neither Guilfoyle nor Ridsdale have yet been told who the figures behind the consortium are, or their motives for seeking anonymity. Even so, Ridsdale has been pressing ahead with plans for season-tickets, playing squad budgets, catering services and sponsorship. He is understood to be on the verge of signing a deal with Puma, having chosen the colour and design of the home and away kits for the 2011-2012 season. A deal for shirt sponsorship is also understood to be on the table. "My only objective is to make sure the club is playing in the Football League next season," Ridsdale said. He added that the retention of some high-earners meant next year's wage bill would be likely to fall at around £2 million, which would need to be slashed to nearer £1.5million to become sustainable.
Peter Reid has promised Argyle will not adopt long ball tactics next season. Reid wants his side to adopt a passing style, and will try to bring players to Home Park who are suited to that. He also intends to add more athleticism to his squad before the start of the campaign. "I want to get some legs into the team, and players who can get the ball down and pass it," he said. "Our pitch is conducive to that, so we have got to try to get players in who can do that for us."
Peter believes Argyle fans will rally around Romain Larrieu during his testimonial season, including supporting the pre-season game against Neil Warnock's QPR. Reid said: "Neil has been brilliant agreeing to do this for Romain. It should be a fantastic occasion, and it's something Ro thoroughly deserves." Larrieu vied for selection with David Button for all of last season and Reid added: "I left Romain out of games and played David instead but his attitude was always tremendous. It sums him up as a person. He's terrific in the dressing room, a real big personality, and I'm sure his testimonial season will be a success."
Peter Reid expects to have only a small group of players when Argyle start pre-season training. With the club still in administration, and the ownership of the club far from certain, Reid cannot make any new recruits. He said: "It doesn't bother me in the least. When I first came to the club last year there were too many players. We had players all over the place, and I knew I had to reduce the wage bill. This year we are going to have to get players in, but it's easier to do that than it is to get them out when they are under contract." Reid has been away from Plymouth since the end of the season but he has been in regular contact with Peter Ridsdale over the last four weeks. Reid said: "I speak to Peter every day, to be perfectly honest, which is only right. We have got players who we have identified as possible signings and who we have been in touch with. But, with the situation as it is at the club, it's a case of wait and see."
Administrator Brendan Guilfoyle is waiting for the 28-day appeal period for Plymouth Argyle's Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) to draw to a close. Unsecured voted in favour of the CVA at a meeting on May 6 but the creditors' report was not filed until four days later, meaning the appeal period does not end until June 7th. Guilfoyle said: "There is no indication of any appeals but we will wait and see. By their nature, they tend to come in last minute and unannounced."
Romain Larrieu said he wants his testimonial year to be above all else a celebration. Le Testimonial kicked off in Plymouth yesterday and among the many highlights is a pre-season friendly with Queens Park Rangers. Neil Warnock will bring his Championship title winning side, including Jamie Mackie and Akos Buzsaky, to Home Park on July 20th. As a curtain-raiser to that game at 6.30pm, Argyle ladies will play an exhibition match. In addition to the QPR friendly, Larrieu's testimonial year will include a Guest Speaker Evening, a gala ball and a celebrity golf day, with three local charities – the Mustard Tree Appeal, Jeremiah's Journey and Community Action Through Sport, being among the beneficiaries of the season-long activities. Michael Dunford, chairman of Larrieu's testimonial campaign, said: "We have an interesting and entertaining year to help Romain and the Green Army celebrate this considerable achievement. We thank Argyle and in particular Peter Ridsdale and Peter Reid for their unreserved support of Romain's testimonial year. Le Testimonial offers fans the chance to show their appreciation to Romain for his 10 seasons at Home Park. We're obviously delighted that we've been able to secure Premier League opposition in Queens Park Rangers and also having the Argyle ladies team ahead of that game. That should be a really memorable night and kick-off the testimonial year in style. No-one is more deserving than Romain. I doubt very much that in the years ahead I'll see another player equal what Romain has done at Home Park. As we've seen in football today, players at clubs like Plymouth are sought by richer teams. Romain might be the last of his kind – a very good player who likes where he lives and puts that ahead of a chance to be a better-paid pro on the bench at another side. He's married to a Plymouth girl and loves the club and the area. If I was to sum up Romain, I'd say he's a really good man, first and foremost, and a good goalkeeper to have on your books at any time." Larrieu said he wanted everyone involved with Plymouth to celebrate his time at Home Park, and equally wants the ups to outstrip the downs for the club. "Above all else I want my testimonial to be a celebration, reflecting my time and regard for the city," he said. "Hopefully, it will raise money for locally-based charities – that is what I want for everything to stay local. I'm proud to be a Plymouth Argyle player and remain so, and also really proud that I have a great rapport with the fans. All that is important to me."
Yannick Bolasie's transfer from Argyle to Bristol City has been delayed. Bolasie was expected to complete his transfer yesterday but a City spokesman said: "The secretary responsible for ratifying the transfer is away on holiday. Everything will now have to wait until Friday. But Bolasie has agreed terms and passed his medical. There is no question the deal will go through."
Romain Larrieu is looking forward to the good times returning to Argyle but is realistic about the seriousness of the dire financial position. He said: "The bottom line is we kick-off in League Two in August, and that's where Argyle were when I joined them all that time ago. So, we've been here before maybe not in this kind of financial condition, it is true. But, hopefully, once all this is sorted out, we can get back to concentrating on football and rebuilding. Looking back as I sometimes do at my 10 years at Argyle a lot of things have changed, but not mine or the fans' regard for the club. All I can tell everyone, there is nobody who is more desperate for Argyle to do well, than me. If we can draw on the same spirit, off and on the pitch, that we had when we were in the bottom league before, and make it a real club for the people of Plymouth again, then I'm sure we will progress. It will be hard going and we must make use of pre-season to try and get some confidence back into the squad. Yes, it's my testimonial year and I'm proud to have been associated with Argyle and to have lived in Plymouth for as long as I have. But I want to build new memories to add to the ones that I am sure all Argyle fans look back on."
Yannick Bolasie is close to completing a transfer to Bristol City for an undisclosed fee. Bolasie held talks with the Robins yesterday and had a medical and the deal is expected to be concluded today. Reports suggest Argyle have moved to sell Bolasie as soon as possible because he put in a 14-day notice of termination of his contract following non-payment of wages. At the end of that 14-day period, Bolasie could have quit and gone elsewhere on a free transfer, despite having signed a deed of deferral on the money he was owed. Argyle have also fully paid up the wages of Curtis Nelson and Joe Mason to avoid a similar situation with either of them.
Pauk Stapleton has apologised to Argyle's staff and supporters for his role in the club's financial crisis. He said he had 'done everything' to stave off administration as the true scale of the problems emerged last year, but also revealed his £50,000-a-year pay-packet and hopes of cashing in on his shares. Argyle avoiding administration depended on selling Home Park and obtaining a £2million cash injection promised by Yasuaki Kagami and George Synan. Stapleton said: "During January and February I was talking to Japan every day. I spoke to Kagami direct and he was asking questions about what had happened, which made me feel he wasn't in tune with everything. I'm not sure George Synan told Kagami everything." Argyle sold players in January, offloading Craig Noone and Bradley Wright-Phillips but turning down an offer from Millwall to take Marcel Seip on a free. Trustees of the Plymouth Argyle Supporters Training and Development Trust also voted to approve handing Argyle a £330,000 mortgage, allowing the club to tackle a crucial tax bill. Stapleton, himself a trustee, did not vote on the matter but did address others beforehand. Government watchdog the Charity Commission is still investigating. Stapleton said: "We'd heard the revenue were looking to cause problems but we thought we had enough time for the Japan money to come through and to do the property sale." Stapleton sparked anger by flying to Dubai to join his family in a five-star hotel, while Peter Ridsdale told club staff there was no money for their wages. However, he defended his decision to go on holiday and revealed he had met with a Dubai-based Bahraini investor with a view to doing a last-ditch deal. "I stand by it," he added. "The holiday was arranged when I was vice-chairman, not in control of the club. We had an executive director as well as a chairman then. Little did I know I would have to step back up to try to save the club." A full board meeting was called for March 4th, where directors had to decide whether to put the club into administration or risk asking for more time in court. Stapleton said: "It was a hard thing to come to terms with. I'd been on the board for 13 years, then all of a sudden March 4 comes and the administrator comes in and you can't even go to the games anymore. The revenue challenging our notice just crystallised our decision. But even that day I had an email from Japan saying the money would be with us in two weeks." But Stapleton refused to point the finger of blame towards Japan. "When they first came in, they wanted to sell shirts, they wanted players," Stapleton said. "They were interested in the commercial opportunities, and that was great. They didn't run the club, but they shouldn't have promised £2million when they did. Not only did they promise it but they kept promising it every day." Stapleton, who said he also believes directors were wrong to replace chief executive Michael Dunford, an experienced football administrator, with Todd, added: "I have no regrets until the New World. We'd never forward-sold any income, never forward-sold any season ticket income. We never in my time had not paid the staff or the creditors. We didn't have the wherewithal to take the club on. We took the club as far as we could and just look at their CVs." When quizzed on his own payments, Stapleton admitted he was given a five-year contract as an unofficial consultant to the club worth £50,000 a year. The money was to be paid to city accountancy practice Parkhurst Hill, where he is senior partner, as part of a deal arranged with the club's Japan-based directors. Stapleton said: "The Japanese had insisted that I would have an annual retainer for all the time taken up by me, especially as I would not now have control. I was surprised this was offered but was willing to do anything going forward to help the club, like dealing with agents, players, representing at league meetings, whatever." Much of that was never paid, Stapleton said, and Parkhurst Hill was owed more than £65,000 when the club went into administration. Stapleton also had personal guarantees with financial institutions and unsecured loans of at least £125,000 in the club. Despite laying much of the blame with the New World, he said all seven directors should take responsibility for the club's downfall. Stapleton added: "We were all on the board and we were all responsible. I understand that, and I feel for the staff and fans of the club. I am a fan of the club and I'm sorry things turned out like this. It's very sad because it's something you love and that's been very successful that's turned sour. All I know is I've done everything to try to help this club. I spent every day trying to save it. I couldn't have walked away. I'm just hopeful it's going to come through the other end."
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