A Round-up of Argyle News
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Greens on Screen's Daily Diary is a compilation of Argyle news, with help from these and other Argyle-related sites.
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Also included on the three most recent days, facts from Argyle's history.
Craig Noone has agreed terms with Brighton and Hove Albion, and will complete his move when the transfer window opens tomorrow.
Peter Reid has admitted he could be powerless to prevent Bradley Wright-Phillips from leaving Home Park. He said: "We have had no offers for Bradley. But, if and when, we have got to look at the financial situation. Listen, I'm a manager and I want to keep my best players, simple as, but the most important thing is the survival of Argyle. Sometimes certain circumstances dictate you have to do things you don't want to do." Rory Fallon seems certain to be among the players who leave in January. Fallon is currently on loan to Ipswich Town but reports suggest a bid has been made by Sheffield Wednesday. There has also been strong interest shown in Onismor Bhasera, Reda Johnson and George Donnelly. The aim is to sell players as speedily as possible, not only so the club can clear their debts to HMRC, but also to get their transfer embargo lifted. That would then give Reid an opportunity to make some loan signings to bolster his depleted squad. Reid said: "I have got some decent players here, who have done well recently. If I have got to sell players to get the transfer embargo lifted, it gives me a chance to bring some people in. I don't want to leave the club short of options. That's, obviously, a major consideration." One of Reid's other tasks is to make sure his players remain focused on their football, and not on possible moves. Reid added: "It's my job, and the players' jobs, to concentrate on the games. There is a worry about the club carrying on, but we must remember football matches are there to be enjoyed. I know there is pressure to get results, but getting out on there on a Saturday and when the referee blows the whistle, that's what it's all about. It's about us trying to win games. That's what we have got to focus on, and that's what the players and I love doing."
Peter Ridsdale pulled no punches yesterday, as he publicly addressed Argyle's financial problems for the first time. He said: "This is a race against time. One of the things that I don't think has been fully explained to the public in Plymouth is this football club is not facing administration: if the football club cannot raise enough cash, there is a view that it could well disappear completely. I can't even find the words to put into context how bad it is without depressing everybody. All I can say, if it is of hope to anybody, is that I wouldn't be here if didn't think there was a chance of succeeding. Is there chance? Absolutely, that's why we're all here. Is it bad? Absolutely - it's probably worse than you can imagine. However, we have assets, and we have friends, and we have people we are talking to. Together, pulling in the same direction, without people playing politics but everybody having the right end objective, which is the future of Plymouth Argyle Football Club, we can succeed. This football club needs a lot of things going its way if it is to come out the other end and be a successful football club, going forward." Ridsdale and the club's directors have already held lengthy discussions and he continued: "The debt here is not a problem in itself; the problem is the cash required to continue running the football club until the end of the season. Therefore, we have sat down and plotted our way through January, plotted our way through February, and then to the end of the season, and said that, if we achieve certain milestones, the club will be fine. The most immediate milestone is to pay off pressing creditors and, of course, HMRC. That is required by the end of January. If we haven't solved our problems with pressing creditors and HMRC by that date, I don't think there'll be anybody sitting here, talking to you."
The resignation of Roy Gardner as chairman; the standing down as executive director of Keith Todd; and the arrival of Peter Ridsdale as football consultant have seen major changes at Home Park over Christmas. However, Ridsdale yesterday insisted that the new order was together in striving to end the clubs plight. He said: "The whole board, no matter which element of the shareholding they represent, is at one with the direction we are going in and the desire to see the proper outcome for this football club. This is a single board with the common objective of succeeding on behalf of this football club, and nobody is siding with anybody. Everybody is totally aware of their responsibilities to be successful, because, if we're not, it is unthinkable. Keith is fully committed to ensuring that Plymouth Argyle gets out of this crisis and moves forward. He's got two or three other jobs, and the short term needs somebody here all the time. With due respect, Keith said he did not have the opportunity to do that. I wouldn't be here if the board as a whole, the shareholders as a whole, were not totally committed to the future of this football club, and the steps that are being taken." With regards to directors paying more money into the club, Ridsdale said: "We are talking to our existing shareholders, who are certainly saying they are going to be supportive, and we are talking to many other people, but this situation is dire."
Paul Stapleton has paid tribute to the Home Park office staff for pulling together during the club's financial crisis. The club's employees, and playing squad, have suffered payment problems over Christmas, and Stapleton said: "The staff have been absolutely fantastic. I know it's difficult when you don't get your pay on time, but we're doing what we can to make sure that situation is put right as soon as we can and then continues to be right from now on. We're hoping it's a short-term blip. We do appreciate that you have had to bear with us. We have got ourselves into a financial situation that we didn't want to get ourselves in, but - these things happen - what we have got to concentrate on is getting out of it. It needs everybody's help. You feel guilty that players haven't had their total wages, and we're working on that. All these things are on our agenda to work through. Now we have got the expertise in-house to make that happen." That expertise comes in the form of Peter Ridsdale. "Peter has agreed to be here full-time, which is what I think this football club needs," said Stapleton. "It needs someone in the offices, working with the staff, working with the manager; someone who knows football as well as Peter does. It's a new step in our history, an important step. When you look at what has happened to Cardiff, you can see what can happen to a club when it's in the right hands, going forward together with everybody's support."
Argyle have turned to Peter Ridsdale to help them solve what was described for the first time in the public arena as a 'crisis' yesterday. "The most important thing, in my view is that everyone needs to be frank, blunt and honest about the crisis that we face," said Ridsdale. "It is not a crisis that is insurmountable; otherwise, frankly, I would not be wasting my time here. But it is a crisis that requires focused management, and some very hard-nosed decisions which will allow the club to regroup and be stronger at the end of it. I have been asked if I will come in on a more permanent basis in the foreseeable future to try to steer the club through what is going to be a very challenging few weeks between now and the next scheduled appearance in the High Court with Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs. There has been some conjecture as to what my title should be, and what I should be doing, and I am certainly mindful that, certainly in the climate that I arrive here, I am not, at this stage, going to take a position as a director, nor a position with any formal title within the club. However, what I have agreed to do is to work on a full-time basis with Paul Stapleton, who is deputy chairman, and with Peter Reid to try to steer a path through to make sure we have a football club playing professional football here, and a football club with a stable financial situation. Until everybody is clear on the way forward, I will remain as consultant to the board. If the fog lifts, that might change, but, as it stands, the board of directors will have the responsibility of saying 'yes' or 'no' to what I suggest is available to them as a means of moving forwards. I've been a long-term friend of Paul, and Peter and I have worked together in the past. I am a football person. I feel strongly that, in the short term I do have the time to assist, and assist I will, to the best of my ability." Ridsdale revealed that he had initially made contact with Argyle with the intention of buying into the club. "I had been working with a group who were seeking to invest in football in this country and who had, indeed, made at least one offer for a Championship football club which was unsuccessful," he said. "Sadly, the financial position that I was initially introduced to here was not quite what it seemed and the challenge was going to be more difficult than had been initially suggested. Therefore, at this stage, traditional methods of investment are off the table. What we need to do is get the club into a position where any investor might feel it is the right route to go, and that is going to mean we are going to have to take some very harsh decisions between now and February 9. I'd like to thank Paul, Tony and the rest of the board for their confidence in asking me to work with them. Everything we are doing is with full board approval and the manager's approval. We are not doing anything without this being a team working together. I can't stress enough that this is not an easy challenge and I want everybody here in Plymouth - the business community, the politicians, anybody who cares about the future of this football club, our creditors - to work with us. Football clubs are part of the community, they are owned by the community - whoever has got the share certificate is just passing through. The most important part of any football club is the supporters. The supporters here have shown over the last few weeks have been outstanding through very difficult times, and everybody owes the supporters the chance for us to succeed - we have got a responsibility to deliver a successful football club for the supporters, but, at the moment, the most important thing is to survive. It won't be easy, and I'm not pretending that I have any magic wand, but we will do our best. I'm here until February 8 - the day before our court appearance. I'm hoping that is because we have succeeded in the first challenge, which is raising enough cash to see off the immediate threat to the future of the football club. If we are successful and I am asked to stay beyond that date, that will be a separate conversation. For those supporters who are asking 'What's in it for Peter Ridsdale?' or 'How much is it costing us to going through the pain of having Peter in Plymouth?', I am doing this for no remuneration because, frankly, the club isn't in any position to pay me anything."
Craig Noone's imminent departure for Brighton & Hove Albion will not be the only exit in the January transfer-window. That was the message from Peter Ridsdale as Argyle's new consultant confirmed that the club had received and accepted an offer from the Seagulls yesterday. Ridsdale said: "In this situation in football, sadly, one of the easiest things to do is to raise money through the asset-base you have got and the only asset-base this club currently has is the football team. Therefore we will, if offers come in, have to listen to those offers and our challenge will be to get as much cash in the short term to give the club the right financial platform to come out the other side, and to make sure that Plymouth Argyle Football Club is playing professional football in League 1 at the end of this season. We - initially - are going to have to sell and take offers for players but, if we do that quickly enough, it will allow us to get the transfer embargo lifted and to bring players in before the end of the transfer-window in January. In the ideal world, you sell players in the order that you'd like to lose them; the fact of the matter is that you end up selling the players that have the most value. It is not the first time Brighton have been into this football club for Craig Noone. They have eventually reached a price that the manager and the directors feel that, in the current financial climate, they have no option but to accept, and Craig has been given the opportunity to talk to Brighton." The number of players following Noone out of the Home Park will be affected by Argyle's ability to raise money for alternative streams. "It depends on what other source of income we can attract to the football club," added Ridsdale. "What we know is that there is a cash requirement for this football club to get to the end of the season. The cash requirement can come from a number of sources. Regrettably the most immediate source that is obviously available is the playing squad. The degree to which we can bring in revenue from elsewhere will negate the requirement for us to sell players. We know how much cash we need and we know the potential sources of that cash coming in, and, unfortunately - and I hope our supporters will bear with us - selling players is the most likely to bring the most cash, the most quickly. The other problem the club faces in the short term is that it has a number of players out of contract in the summer and when you have a transfer embargo you can't improve or extend existing contracts. Therefore we have had to take into account players having little or no value after the end of January. We have had an indicative bid for one player who is not currently playing but is out on loan, and we have interest in three other players, but no bids as yet." Peter Reid took the loss of Noone on the chin. "I didn't want to lose him," he said, "but when you look through football, these things happen. Alex Ferguson didn't want to lose Cristiano Ronaldo; Everton didn't want lose Wayne Rooney. The most important thing is this football club carrying on and we will try to get as many points as we can. That's what I'm focused on. It's up to my staff and, most importantly, the players, to get it right on match-days, and that's what I'll be focusing on. I can't affect anything else." Despite Noone's fine form this season, Reid admitted he and the winger had not always seen eye to eye. "He's a fellow Scouser and a bubbly boy," said Reid. "He has done brilliant for us. I had a couple of rucks with him on the training pitch early on, when I came in as the manager, but he's such a character. I have had great banter with him, and if he agrees personal terms he will be sadly missed. He makes things happen for you as a player." Noone's 62nd and probably last appearance for Argyle came in the draw against Notts County on Tuesday. Reid added: "I don't think he was great in that game, but he put in the free-kick from which Zubar scored his goal. He also put in a lovely little ball later in the first half where he picked out Joe Mason, who hit the post. And if you look at his assists for the goals Bradley Wright-Phillips has scored, the lad has done really well. He wasn't involved that much before this season, but he fought his way in, so we are hoping someone else comes to the party if Craig goes." Reid's stoicism was welcomed by Ridsdale, who said: "Often in football, you get managers who bemoan the fact that they haven't got this player; they haven't got that player; they haven't got a chequebook big enough to strengthen the squad; and everything else. Peter's challenge has been just the opposite. Peter is expected to perform miracles with a team that is doing an outstanding job on the field. In an ideal world, everybody likes to strengthen, but he is going to face the opposite in January." Reports suggest that the 'undisclosed fee' for Noone will be £300,000, after an offer of £250,000 was rejected earlier this month. The money will also be paid up front, rather than in instalments, as is often the case in transfers.
Paul Mariner today left Argyle, with the club releasing the following statement: Paul Mariner has today asked the club if he can be released from his contract of employment as he has another opportunity that he wishes to pursue. Given the outstanding relationship that Paul has with this football club, we have therefore agreed to release him from his contract and wish him all the very best for the future. Peter Reid said. "I have known Paul for a long time and working with him has been fantastic. I'm sure he will be successful in everything he does in the future. He's a great personality and someone who is a legend with the fans at this football club."
Craig Noone has travelled to Brighton & Hove Albion for talks about a move to the Withdean Stadium, with Argyle reported to have agreed an undisclosed fee for the winger. Peter Ridsdale said: "Brighton have had an offer accepted for Craig Noone but we are not currently disclosing the fee. Let's just say that in the current climate for a player who would be out of contract in the summer it is acceptable to us and to Brighton. In the current situation that we find ourselves in cash is king, and therefore we need the cash in to pay our creditors."
Further to the announcement that Roy Gardner has stepped down as Chairman, and that Keith Todd is relinquishing his executive responsibilities, Argyle today announced that Peter Ridsdale will work as Football Consultant to the Board, initially until February 8th. Ridsdale commented: "It is a privilege to be asked to work with the Directors of Plymouth Argyle at this difficult time in the club's history. From what I have seen, the financial situation is precarious and no one should underestimate the challenge that faces this club in surviving the short-term financial pressures. The supporters, staff, manager and players have been magnificent during these difficult times and we will do all that we can to give the club the chance to avoid administration and to rebuild for the future. I ask everyone connected with Plymouth Argyle, the political and business communities in Plymouth, our creditors, and anyone else who feels that they can contribute, to work with us to find a positive outcome. I initially came to talk to Argyle regarding investment but, frankly, the true financial position that became apparent was significantly worse than had been volunteered. It therefore requires a different focus before traditional investment can be considered. Everyone will be working together to produce a positive outcome."
Rory Patterson has vowed to put the team's needs ahead of his own. He said: "The most important thing for the club at the moment is to win matches and if I can play a part in that, I'll be happy. Everyone knows about the financial problems with Argyle, but there's nothing we, the players, can do about that. What we can do, though, is to be positive on the pitch, play for ourselves, the club and the fans and, hopefully, that's exactly what we are doing. I thought we were unlucky in the end not to have made it three wins in a row against Notts County. I think the two postponements before Tuesday's game didn't help us, and in the circumstances a 1-1 draw wasn't a bad result. Although I think we did enough to win the game and, hopefully, we can keep the run going against Yeovil Town this coming Saturday. Obviously, I'm hoping to play in that match and also in as many others that I can, really. Earlier in the season, I didn't get too many opportunities, as the gaffer was playing a different system with one striker up front. That format seems to have changed now and I'm getting more time in the first team, which is great. Although, I don't have a personal tally of goals in mind. If I got to double figures for the season, I'd be more than happy. But, with Brad in good form right now and with all the other lads chipping in, I'm confident we can score goals from just about any position in the team. We're a tight-knit team and we all work to help one another. The important thing is that the team, not any individual, can keep improving, although I'd like to play a part in doing that by scoring goals."
Peter Reid had sympathy for his players after the draw with Notts County, admitting less than ideal preparation did not help their cause. He said: "The lads haven't had much training on grass but they stuck at it. Paterson came up with two great blocks at the end and I think that just shows you the spirit of the players - that pleases me. Possibly early in the season we might have got beat in that game, and I think that's a plus." Argyle have been troubled so far this season by set pieces, and Reid paid tribute to his defence for dealing with a number of dangerous deliveries from County midfielder Ben Davies. He said: "The boy Davies does put quality in there and one of the things I said is 'don't give stupid free-kicks away' and we gave too many away. We know from other games that he has got quality and I think Button made some really good decisions. Both goalkeepers did well on the day. I thought Reda Johnson did well, and Nelson. And Joe Mason's chance - it's a great build up, great touch, Joe just needs a goal. Joe's a good player, just needs a bit of confidence and strength, which we're trying to get into him. It was lovely play. I just think once or twice he tried to force it. He's a clever player and he just needs to stay on the ball a bit more. We want him on the ball. He's a nice lad, an introverted lad, we just need to get it out of him." Reid will continue to juggle the training and match situation over the coming days, admitting the weather will continue to influence his plans. He added: "They're going to have a day off tomorrow, with the number of games coming up I think it's important when to rest them and when to work them. When we train them on Thursday, is the ground going to be heavy? You can't keep them out there long. We've got to save them for the games."
Stephane Zubar gave Argyle an early lead against Notts County yesterday, and went on to produce a fine performance which earned him praise from Peter Reid. He said: "Besides his goal, I thought the right-back looked a really good player. I was pleased with his performance, and I have got to say Rory Patterson has been showing us what he's made of lately. So I was delighted with a couple of things, but I thought we fell asleep for their goal. We talked before the game about Lee Hughes being a wily campaigner. One of the things we always say to the players is follow-up at both ends, so I was disappointed about the way we conceded the goal. But the spirit and endeavour of the players was great." Reid had no doubts, however, that Lee Hughes had been in an offside position when he scored. He said: "You can't legislate for the linesman, can you? Besides being offside, they took the throw-in about 30 yards further on than it should have been. But, hey, we had a chance to get there and clear it, and we didn't. The linesman hasn't done his job, but we can't affect it. I'm not like Ricky Ponting – I'm not going to have a go at him. I'm not going to get fined 40 per cent of my wages when I'm not getting paid!" Reid revealed Zubar had been struggling with a stomach injury near the end of the match, but played on until full-time. Onismor Bhasera and Curtis Nelson both had to be substituted. Bhasera was replaced at half-time by Jim Paterson as he was suffering from flu and Bondz N'Gala was sent on for Nelson in the 79th minute because of a sore knee and calf muscle. Kari Arnason was also suffering from flu, but still played the whole game.
Keith Todd has insisted that he has no intention of quitting as a director of Argyle. He admitted the club faced a 'huge challenge' and vowed to continue to work to attract new, desperately needed investment. Todd said: "I'm not walking away from anything. We have got a huge challenge on our hands, and have had for the last 18 months. We need to solve the problem now, without getting sidetracked. I strongly disagreed with the timing of the announcement on Christmas Eve. I fail to see why there was a necessity to make it public then. The idea of my stepping down as executive director has never been an issue. I was only going to do it for six months initially. But, because of the challenges the club have faced, it has gone on for a lot longer than that. I wanted to make sure the handover of the day-to-day co-ordination at the club was done in an orderly way, and at the right time. Someone else will have to explain the motivation behind the timing of the announcement." Paul Stapleton has assumed the role of executive director on an interim basis, but Peter Ridsdale is waiting in the wings. Todd added: "I must stress I'm not leaving the board of directors. I totally respect the decision of the board to decide on who is the CEO, but I'm just bewildered about the manner in which it was handled." Todd and Roy Gardner hold their shares in Argyle's holding company in a firm they set up called Mastpoint. Wealthy business associates of theirs have also loaned the club money through Mastpoint. Todd said: "Mastpoint, and other people related to Mastpoint, have been the biggest investors in the club, by far, over the last 18 months. Mastpoint are also the biggest creditor the club have. I have had two priorities over the past few weeks. One has been to support Peter Reid in moving the team forward and I think he has done a great job. My other priority has been to bring funding into the club. Everything else is irrelevant. Funding is the most important issue we are facing. I would hope it's where everybody's focus is. It's still mine." Gardner's sudden resignation leaves Argyle without a chairman for the time being. Todd said: "I have got nothing to add on behalf of Sir Roy, but he will say more later." Ridsdale was at Home Park for the game against Notts County.
Stephane Zubar's debut Argyle goal was payback to Peter Reid and Argyle for sticking by him during his protracted transfer saga. "I am very happy to score for the club," said Zubar. "I think the club and the gaffer have been working really well for me and now I feel good. I am very, very happy. I must play well every game."
Argyle drew 1-1 with Notts County at Home Park, the goal scored by Stephane Zubar after 4 minutes. Argyle: Button, Zubar, Nelson, Johnson, Bhasera, Noone, Arnason, Fletcher, Patterson, Wright-Phillips, Mason. Subs - Paterson, Bolasie, N'Gala (not used – Larrieu, Clark, Duguid, Stephens). Attendance - 9,822.
Spirits are high among the Argyle squad, according to Peter Reid. The players trained at Ivybridge Community College yesterday and Reid had been hoping to stage the session on their synthetic pitch, but that was out of action after the recent freezing temperatures. Reid was still able to put his players through their paces, though, in the sports hall, where they played a small-sided tournament, with the team captained by Carl Fletcher coming out on top. "You want to keep the players bright and bubbly and keep them sharp," said Reid. "You want them to enjoy it. We had a little competition yesterday, which was won by Fletch's team, and we had a laugh. The most important thing is what we do on a matchday, we know that, but you have got to keep spirits high. The players were remarkably lively yesterday. I was really pleased with them. Sometimes when you are struggling for training facilities, as we have done over the last couple of weeks, it can work out better for you. I think we played some of our best football of the season against Exeter so, hopefully, it will be the same against Notts County." Reid has been thrilled at being able to use the facilities at Ivybridge during the bad weather. Sean McCarthy oversees a football academy at the college, and watched the training session yesterday. Reid said: "I have got to thank Sean McCarthy and everyone at Ivybridge Community College again. They have been terrific to us. We couldn't get on their synthetic pitch yesterday, but it was great in the sports hall. It was like a throwback to my days at school. There is nothing wrong with that, and professional footballers getting back to basics. I do think there is a good spirit among the players at the moment. Everyone knows what we have been through and I don't want to hark on about it, but the players have responded really well. We have had two decent results, albeit a long time apart, and we have just got to keep on going and keep our spirits up. Hopefully, we can show what we are capable of on the football pitch because that's our main consideration." Reid also had words of praise for Argyle's groundstaff, led by Colin Wheatcroft, for the work they have been putting in over recent weeks. The Home Park pitch was covered for an extended period before and after Christmas to try to protect it from the freezing temperatures. The sheets were finally removed yesterday morning, and heavy rain in the afternoon assisted in softening up the playing surface. Reid said: "The groundstaff have done a good job, I have got to say that. All credit to them, and it will be good to get on the pitch again."
Rory Patterson will want to continue his recent good form when Argyle face Notts County today. Peter Reid believes it all stems from Patterson scoring his first international goal for Northern Ireland on November 17th. "I thought Rory was fantastic against Exeter, I have got to say that," said Reid. "But he has looked really good in training as well. That could be because of his first international goal and the confidence he has taken from it. So that has been a plus for us even though we are going through a tough time off the pitch."
Carl Fletcher will take over from Conor Clifford in the centre of midfield against Notts County but Peter Reid has hinted that might not be the only change he makes to the team today. "What I can say, without naming the team, is that I will be looking to go out and attack," he said. Argyle have already played Notts County twice this season, and been beaten both times. Reid added: "We know it's going to be hard. Paul Ince has got some good players. Lee Hughes caused us problems the last time we played them, so we are going to have to contend with that. But I think we are quite capable of winning this game. We have had a couple of disappointing results against them this season but, hopefully, we can get a result today. They have got a few new players in. Paul has got his lad in, and I think Darby is a good prospect. So he has added some quality, but we are at home, we have had a couple of good results and we will go out there in a positive frame of mind."
Peter Reid has paid tribute to the supporters of Argyle for rallying round the club in their time of need. He said: "I have been at a lot of football clubs in my career and they are the lifeblood of the local community. I don't mean to be dramatic when I say that, but it's a fact. Argyle are no different. The response from the supporters to our problems off the pitch has been brilliant. We need it again today against Notts County and also when we play Yeovil. They are going to be a couple of tough games." Reid has called on the fans to turn up at Home Park today and get behind the team as they aim for a third successive win. "I asked for that against Exeter and I got a fantastic response," he said. "I honestly thought the support we got was a massive help to the players. Hopefully, we will get that again today because the players do respond to it. I thought our performance against Exeter was our best of the season, in terms of looking strong as a team and some of the football we played. My message to the fans would be 'come along and get behind the team' because the future of the football club is the most important thing for all of us." Reid worked closely with Keith Todd, but is determined to keep out of club politics and focus only on preparing the players to the best of his ability. He said: "I had a healthy relationship with Keith, but we have just got to get on with the situation as it is at the moment." For the time being, Reid is unsure who he would have to report to. "I haven't been told the nuts and bolts of that," he said. "Hopefully I will be after these couple of games." Reid, who was appointed as Leeds manager by Peter Ridsdale in 2003, was expecting further moves behind the scenes at the club. He said: "I think it's important the manager is kept in the loop. I know the situation the club is in, and things have got to change. The most important thing is this football club and it keeps on going. There will have to be some tough decisions made, but we have got to get on with it." It has not been an easy first six months as Argyle manager for Reid, but he is not afraid of the challenge ahead. He added: "It has been difficult but everyone has been so upbeat. The players, the staff and the supporters have been terrific."
Argyle and Bournemouth have re-arranged their cancelled Boxing Day match for Saturday, January 8th. Both clubs have the date free as they are no longer competing in the FA Cup.
Roy Gardner has resigned in protest at the latest boardroom reshuffle at Argyle. It was announced on Christmas Eve that executive director Keith Todd would relinquish his role from January 1st. In a statement Gardner said: "I have not been adequately consulted by the board on this matter - and have not given my agreement to the announcement. I have no alternative but to resign as chairman with immediate effect. I take this step with great regret and will make a further statement in due course."
Argyle staff will not receive their December wages until the new year, the club have said. "We had hoped to receive the next piece of funding prior to Christmas," the club said in a statement. "Funding has been committed to be received by December 31, but has not been able to be brought forward. As a result, we expect to process the December payroll on December 31. As the precise timing of the funding arrival on December 31 cannot be certain, it may be that your December pay does not arrive in your bank accounts until January 4 or 5. As you are aware, the staff's November payroll has all been paid. The players have received partial payments and we have been working with the PFA to provide loan finance to help address the short-term shortfall in the November pay. It has not been possible to complete these arrangements prior to Christmas, because of the Christmas break affecting the availability of key people outside of the club. As an interim measure, the PFA is making available loans directly to the players covering some of the outstanding amounts. We are working on completing the formal loan arrangements with the PFA. The club expect to be fully up to date with payroll for all employees in January. And the board is working with its advisors to permanently resolve the financial issues and to put the club on a stable base."
Hopes are high that Argyle's game against Notts County at Home Park tomorrow will go ahead as the cold weather starts to relent. Argyle's head of communications, Rick Cowdery said: "There is nothing to suggest the game against Notts County is in any doubt whatsoever. The pitch has been covered and the temperatures are forecast to rise rapidly. Without wishing to pre-empt anything, it looks as though there is an extremely good chance of the game going ahead. People have been starved of sporting action over the holiday period, so we are hoping for a big walk-up of fans with lots of people in Plymouth visiting family and friends."
The Boxing Day visit to Bournemouth was postponed because of a frozen pitch, following a 9.30am inspection at Dean Court. The Argyle squad had travelled along the south coast on Christmas Day, leaving Home Park at 6pm. They arrived at their hotel shortly before 9.30pm after a trip in bitterly cold temperatures. Paul Mariner and Geoff Crudgington, plus kit man Neil Lunnon, all attended the pitch inspection, which was carried out by referee Graham Scott. Mariner said: "As soon as we walked on the pitch you could tell there was no chance of playing the game. It would have been too dangerous. We got there just after nine o'clock and the referee arrived at 9.30. It was a pretty easy decision for him to call it off." The squad did not make an immediate return to Plymouth yesterday, however. The players had a work-out in the gymnasium at the hotel they were staying in from 10.30am to 12noon. Then, after lunch, they set off on the return trip to Plymouth. Mariner had words of praise for coach driver Malcolm Miller after the treacherous trip to Bournemouth on Christmas Day evening. He said: "Mal did a great job because it wasn't the easiest of driving conditions. When we got to the hotel there was ice hanging off the wing mirrors and the coach was grey, not white."
More boardroom upheaval is on the cards at Argyle after it was announced that Keith Todd would be relinquishing his role as executive director from January 1st. Todd and Roy Gardner are unlikely to remain on the board of directors into the new year according to reports. Peter Ridsdale could then be set to take on a full-time role at the club. One source stated that it was 'highly probable' that Ridsdale would assume control for the day-to-day running of Argyle by the end of the week.
Argyle's game at Bournemouth was called off this morning following a pitch-inspection.
Argyle have announced that Keith Todd is leaving his role as executive director at the club from January 1st. Deputy chairman Paul Stapleton will assume the role on an interim basis. Merry Christmas everyone.
Carl Fletcher insisted his focus will be on gaining three points for Argyle when he makes an emotional return to his home-town club Bournemouth on Boxing Day. He said: "It's the first time I will have played against Bournemouth since I left, so obviously I'm looking forward to it. But it will only be a special day for me if we come away with three points. Everyone at Argyle is fully focused on the game and while it's nice to go back I'm looking to get three points. I was there from the age of 11 until about 24. My mum and dad still live in the area and I spent all my childhood and grew up there. Obviously, Bournemouth holds a special place in my life. I had great times in football there, both highs and lows. I learnt a lot and am grateful for the time I spent there, because if it wasn't for the club I wouldn't be where I am without that experience. I always make sure I find out Bournemouth's results – they've had some tough times over the years, but at the minute they are doing fantastically well. I know the manager Eddie Howe very well, he is a good friend of mine – I used to live with him at Bournemouth. I speak to him quite a lot. He's done an amazing job there when you think just a couple of years ago they were odds-on to go down to the Conference. He brought them back from the death then, to win promotion the following year. And to do so well this year is a fantastic achievement for a team whose resources are limited. You could argue that his achievements are up there with coaches in the Premier League. Or like Ian Holloway who has got Blackpool up without any money. So, with the team spirit that Ed has there now, he's done really well." Fletcher admitted Argyle's financial woes had been disruptive to their ambitions of bouncing back from relegation from last season. "It is disruptive and off-putting, and it's a tough time of the year being Christmas and everything," he said. "Everyone has presents to buy and bills to pay, so all that couldn't have come at a worse time, really. But everyone at the club, including the people who work in the office, is in the same boat. One thing to come out of it is everyone has pulled together and no-one's thrown their toys out of the pram and walked away – they're all working hard for one another. Hopefully, things can get resolved sooner rather than later. Obviously, myself and Ro have been trying to speak to certain people to help with the wages situation and keep people informed. In the meantime, we've got to stay strong and stick together. You often find out more about yourself when things aren't going right, than when they're going well. It's a tough time for us and very depressing, but you've got to get on with it. At the end of the day, it's nothing we've got control over; the only thing we can control is the performances on the pitch. The win over Exeter gave us all a fantastic lift. Hopefully, we can do that again."
Peter Reid is urging his squad to be positive as they head to Bournemouth searching for a third consecutive win. Reid was impressed with his side's spirit in the win over Dagenham, after trailing 1-0 and said: "It's been a long time that we've got a victory having been a goal down. That was a massive plus point. And, obviously, winning the game against Exeter gave us a two on the trot. Now we've just got to try and keep that run going – away from home. However, it's going to be difficult as Bournemouth are a good footballing side and have got a good record down there at Dean Court. We'll be going there in good spirits." Reid admitted the present weather conditions had not aided his side's preparations. He added: "It would be ideal if we could get somewhere to train. But I think there's a lot of clubs in the same boat as ourselves, because of the weather. We spent some time on the bikes and had some pilates yesterday so we're getting some work into them." Reid said he was inclined to take the positives from Argyle's mid-table position. "Well, it's a glass half-full or one half-empty, whichever way you want to look at it," he said. "And, I'd rather take the glass half-full version going into the Bournemouth game and the period in confident mood. Hopefully, if we can get another result, it will add to that confidence."
Peter Reid is delighted that the Green Army are getting behind his team, even if his friends take some convincing that they are. Nearly 14,500 saw the victory over Exeter City and Reid said: "It was brilliant; the atmosphere was fantastic. The supporters got behind the team, got behind the club - we need all the support we can get. That gate...I've got many friends in football who thought it was a misprint in the papers. I assured them it wasn't a misprint and that the atmosphere and the vocal backing we got off the crowd was second to none. It was tremendous and we need plenty more of it. In times of adversity, everyone gets together and, certainly, this football club is showing that at this moment in time."
Peter Reid has admitted he had been resting Bradley Wright-Phillips from full training sessions to ease his injured knee. "In an ideal world and if the surface was great we could get some football work into him," Reid said."But as we're nursing the knee injury we've got to leave it to the medical people to decide what's best for him. And I agree with them. I played for 12 years with a bad knee, and sometimes you have to rest it and sometimes you have to work it. But we must be doing something right, as he's still getting goals for us. So we are managing it correctly and it's just getting him back into games. With the postponements of games, it means we're going to have a backlog. So we sat down and worked out a way where we can manage the training and getting some work in. But the most important thing is getting the players right for the games. So we're looking at that as well."
Losing Conor Clifford was a bitter blow to Peter Reid. He said: "Obviously, we're all bitterly disappointed he won't be with us. The boy was sick, really gutted when he was told he wouldn't be staying. He's done great for us and been a leader and shook people up, but what will be, will be. But it is a blow – I've got to say that. He brought enthusiasm and energy to our play in the middle of the park, and has been a breath of fresh air. I only learned that he wouldn't be staying on Tuesday afternoon from the league. But there's nothing I can do about it – there's no good worrying or moaning – I've just got to get on with it." Reid's views on Clifford were echoed by Carl Fletcher, who said: "It's obviously disappointing. We only found out on Wednesday morning of the situation. It's a blow for us because he has been doing well for us of late. Of course, he was learning his trade and gaining experience at the same time, playing for us. We've just got to get on with it and not dwell on it too much. That's the way it is in football: one day you're with a team and the next you're transferred. You've just got to get on with it and try and be as positive as you can." Reid said having Fletcher available again is a bonus. He added: "Carl came on in the second half against Exeter and showed what a good player he is. So that's a plus." Reid has not given up hope of re-signing Clifford, one day. "I'd like to pay tribute to Chelsea, and to the boy," he said. "He's enthusiastic, presses the ball, and has been our leader for such a young man while Fletcher has been out injured; a tremendous character. He's a good player. If we can iron things out, get over our difficulties, he's a player I'd like back at the club on loan."
Peter Reid admitted the present plight Argyle find themselves in means three players who are out of contract at the end of the month would probably have to leave the club. Jordan Trott, who was only handed a short-term professional contract in the summer, will be released, said Reid. But he would like to retain the services of goalkeeper Oliver Chenoweth and Lee Molyneux. But under the constraints on the club, due to their financial predicament, he was unsure that would be possible. Reid said: "Well, it's a problem isn't it, because we're under an embargo? I will be having a chat with the lads personally to see what way we can get around it. Trott will be released, but I'm still thinking about the other two. In an ideal world, yes, I'd like to keep them. It's a case of watch this space."
Argyle have received another winding-up petition over unpaid taxes and are due in the High Court again next month. The petition has been brought by HM Revenue and Customs and is due to be heard at the Royal Courts of Justice in London on January 12th. The club are already due in front of a judge on February 9th, when they will have to settle a £700,000 bill or face being wound up. It is understood that Argyle will ask the judge to defer a decision on January 12th so that all three petitions can be dealt with on February 9th.
Despite reports to the contrary yesterday, Argyle have been unable to extend the loan of Conor Clifford. The extension has been blocked by the Football League, who viewed the agreement as a new loan, and, because Argyle have been made the subject of a winding-up order, declined his registration.
The recent poor weather is playing havoc with Argyle's training schedule as they prepare for the Christmas and New Year period.The squad trained at the Mayflower Centre yesterday because there were no outside facilities available. Paul Mariner thought the session had been a worthwhile exercise. "We split the squad in two and they did half-an-hour in the gym and half-an-hour playing five-a-side and then swapped over. With the weather as it is, we've just got to do the best we can in terms of training," he said. Bradley Wright-Phillips sat out the session because the hard surface could have inflamed the minor knee injury which has troubled him over recent weeks but Kari Arnason and Conor Clifford were both involved, after recovering from illness.
Conor Clifford is staying on loan with Argyle for a third month, Chelsea's official website confirmed yesterday.
Argyle's hopes of keeping Conor Clifford on loan until the end of the season could be ended by the transfer embargo which has been imposed on the club by the Football League because of their debts to HM Revenue and Customs. Argyle are in talks about extending Clifford's loan from Chelsea for a third and final month. They would be allowed to do that, despite being under a transfer embargo but the Football League are expected to block any attempts by Argyle to do a deal to borrow Clifford for the rest of the campaign because that would be classed as a new loan signing, not an extension of one. Argyle's next match is at Bournemouth on Boxing Day and for Clifford to play in that fixture, a deal must be agreed with Chelsea to extend the loan for a third month. The visit to Bournemouth will be the first of 11 games in 42 days, including a sequence of four Tuesday night fixtures in five weeks. Peter Reid said: "There are quite a few clubs going to be in the same boat as us. With the backlog of games, we are going to have to sit down with our sports scientist, Scott Russell, and plan it all out."
Argyle's players could be about to have their wages for November fully paid up. Newspaper reports suggest the club are close to securing a loan from the Professional Footballers' Association. Gordon Taylor, chairman of the players' union, said: "We are keeping very much in close touch with the club with regards to financial matters. They are looking to get deals done with the Revenue and new income sources. Meanwhile, we are looking to assist the club with regards to financial help. But you will understand, of course, we need some security for that help, and that's what we are looking to sort out at the moment. We want to try to make sure our loan is protected but also that we can get some money to the players as well. That process is under way and I'm hoping it can be sorted soon."
Kari Arnason and Conor Clifford could have both been ruled out of Argyle's game at Leyton Orient today, had it not been postponed. Peter Reid said: "I'm disappointed the game has been postponed but I don't think Conor Clifford was going to be fit and Arnason was struggling as well. So maybe it's a blessing in disguise in terms of bodies, but I wanted to try to keep our run going. Orient told us there was a problem so we didn't leave thankfully." Weather permitting, Reid was hoping to hold a training session with the Argyle squad today. He added: "We will be working the players hard running-wise and getting some good yardage into them."
Argyle's game at Leyton Orient tomorrow has been postponed following a pitch inspection this afternoon.
The Argyle board today issued the following statement: "We understand the concern of supporters at the club's current position, and appreciate their desire to be kept informed about how things are progressing. Although we cannot reveal full details of everything that is going on behind the scenes, we are happy to share what we feel we can at this stage. As everyone knows, we attended the High Court in London last week for a hearing in which Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs sought a winding-up order over money owed to them by the club. We sought additional time to pay HMRC and were granted an extension until February 9 next year. The club then applied for a validation order to allow us access to our banking facilities, which had been 'frozen' pending the winding-up hearing. On Monday, we were duly given limited access to our account, enabling us to carry out transactions essential for our immediate trading needs. This meant we were able to pay a majority of the Home Park office staff in full; however, the playing staff and some office staff have received a partial payment. Strenuous efforts are being made to complete the payments, and to fund the December payroll. We are hugely grateful to everyone affected by this for their understanding, and fully appreciate the goodwill of the office staff, the management and coaching staff, and the players. From the moment the clock started ticking towards February 9, we have been talking to a wide range of potential new investors, including individuals and property developers. It is not appropriate at the moment to divulge the nature of these conversations, nor details of people involved. However, we will endeavour to keep supporters up to date on definitive developments - as opposed to speculation - as and when we can. Finally, we have been extremely heartened by the magnificent response of the Green Army to the club's predicament. The goodwill from all supporters towards the club has been amazing, as was evident at Saturday's game against Exeter City. Members of the board have held initial discussions with representatives of the Supporters' Trust, and we intend to follow this up - we welcome representations from anyone and everyone who has the interests of Plymouth Argyle at heart. While we are working on a solution to our off-field problems, we would urge everyone to remain right behind the club, and behind Peter Reid and his players. The club need this as much as it ever has done."
Peter Reid wants to keep Conor Clifford for the rest of the season and the on-loan Chelsea midfielder has told Reid that he is eager to extend his stay. Reid said: "I'm hoping we can sort that out. It would be a massive boost for the football club. Conor has had flu this week, but I have spoken to the boy and he fancies it. I think the supporters have taken to him as well. He has been really good for us. He has brought an enthusiasm and an energy to our play in the middle of the park." Reid has also revealed that Argyle have rejected an offer for Craig Noone. The manager would not disclose which club it came from, saying only: "We have a bid from a club for Noone, but it was turned down." Bradley Wright-Phillips, the top scorer in League One, is another player Argyle could be forced to sell. For now, though, all Reid is concentrating on is the game against Leyton Orient. He said: "I'm just getting on with it week to week. If we get bids, we will deal with them at that time. There's no use worrying about it now, but obviously I want to keep what I consider to be my better players."
Peter Reid has adopted a policy of painful frankness with his squad. "You have to be brutally honest," he said. "You can't mask the situation and when the money's not going in the bank, there is not much you can say. We are professionals and the club is in a difficult position, so we get together and show spirit, which the whole club has done, staff and players. They have been professional and have a spirit about them, and you have to give them all credit for that. It's not an ideal situation but they've got on with, and shown character. We've had a chat and like I've said before, the only way we can affect things is on the football pitch. We did that last week against Exeter and another favourable result against Orient gets us on a bit of a run, which is the consistency I've been after. It's going to be hard. We're in a tight league but, if we go there, play well and get a result, it puts us in good stead for the festive period."
The development of Curtis Nelson has been one of the main plus points of the season for Argyle, but he realises he must not take his presence in the first team for granted. Nelson said: "I have been pleased with my performances, but there are still areas I can improve on. I'm still quite young so there is a lot to be learned from the games I have played in, and I'm working on things in training. I'm very surprised by how the season has gone for me." Nelson has started the last three games in the centre of defence with Reda Johnson, and has enjoyed the experience. "I really enjoy playing with Reda – the same as I do with the rest of the lads," he said. "I think we have found decent form, as a team, in the last couple of games, and we kept a clean sheet in the last one, which is always really good as a defender. It's a good balance between me and Reda because he's left-footed and I'm right-footed." Nelson knows he must ignore off-field distractions and concentrate on his performances to make sure he stays in the side. He said: "I'm just keeping my head down and will carry on doing what I'm doing. I'm trying not to let things around me affect me. If you let things affect you, you may find yourself out of the team, so I have just got to train hard and play well." Nelson especially enjoyed the Devon derby victory over Exeter. He added: "It was brilliant. I really enjoyed it. I'm not from around here, but I could tell the game meant a lot to people, which really got me up for it. The stadium was rocking and the fans were great. Everyone wants to win a derby game so it was good to do that." Argyle will try to build on that win when they play Leyton Orient tomorrow. Nelson said: "Training has been really good this week. We have been passing the ball around well and, hopefully, we can get the three points against Orient. I haven't seen much of them but they will be a decent team. We have just got to go out there and do what we did last Saturday."
A financial trouble- shooter has been appointed at Argyle in a bid to steer the club through its current crisis. David Jones, who is described by the club as a financial consultant, will be working at Home Park for the next ten to 12 weeks. Jones was finance director at Southampton for 13 years including the period in 2009 when it was in administration and subsequently relegated to League One. An Argyle spokesman said: "His extensive experience with Southampton makes him the ideal man to help us at this time. David will be helping with the day-to-day responsibilities of running the club whilst former financial officer Tom Kristensen continues to assist with the refinancing of the business." It is understood Kristensen has not been in Plymouth lately, and has been recently in London, although he is still doing some work for the club.
Peter Reid will delay selecting his side for the trip to Leyton Orient because of illness and injury. Kari Arnason and Conor Clifford are flu victims and were absent from training yesterday, and Reda Johnson could not take part in all of the session because of a toe injury. Reid, however, is not ready to rule out any of the trio from the game tomorrow. Onismor Bhasera has also been laid low by flu this week, but returned to training yesterday. Craig Noone and Bradley Wright-Phillips still have minor groin and knee injuries respectively. Neither trained earlier this week, as a precaution, but they were involved in the session yesterday. Reid said: "We have got a few problems but I'm hoping everybody will be fit and ready for tomorrow. Orient are on a good run. They have got two lively wide men in Jimmy Smith and Paul-Jose M'Poku and they like to pass the ball. I'm looking forward to a good football match. They have had some favourable results recently, so we will have to be at our best. I was pleased with a lot of the football we played against Exeter. I thought we looked solid throughout the team. When we got the ball we looked really dangerous going forward, and we looked as though as we had a goal or two in us. Hopefully, we can get another clean sheet tomorrow."
George Donnelly looks set to leave Argyle in January. Donnelly is currently on loan to Stockport County and has scored seven goals in 24 games this season. Stockport are not the only club who are keen on him though, according to Peter Reid. He said: "I have spoken to Stockport manager Paul Simpson once or twice about him. There have been inquiries about him from other football clubs. But the way the situation is at our club, we have got to take things day-to-day. You would like to plan ahead, but I don't think it's wise to do that. I think Paul is having a word with his directors about the situation."
Peter Reid has taken the first steps in trying to keep Conor Clifford on loan at Argyle for a third month. He said: "I have put a call in to Frank Arnesen. Hopefully, I can get the boy for another month." The second month of his loan spell will end after the game at Leyton Orient on Saturday. Reid admitted the return to fitness of Carl Fletcher and Jim Paterson was a boost for Argyle. Both were on the bench for the win over Exeter City last Saturday and Reid said: "Fletch and Jim Paterson were both fit to start, but fitness and match fitness are completely different things. Fletch did smashing. He just strengthened us up in there. I thought it was one of our best performances of the season, in terms of passing the ball, and discipline as well. It's excellent to have both of them available again."
Keith Todd has faced Argyle fans in a behind-closed-doors meeting. The clubs executive director and deputy chairman Paul Stapleton held talks with representatives from the new Argyle Fans' Trust at Home Park and it is understood yesterday's meeting saw Todd indicate he was keen to meet with the Trust on a regular basis to work alongside fans. Former city MP Linda Gilroy, union chief Ashley Beare and steering committee members Peter Ryan and the Rev Jim Benton-Evans were all present for yesterday's meeting. The Trust will be officially set up following a meeting with the Supporters Direct advisory group on Saturday, followed by a public meeting on January 15th.
Staff at Argyle, including Peter Reid and the players, have received part of their wages for November, but it remains unclear when they will get the rest of the money they are owed by the club. Reid said: "A percentage of the wages has been paid to everyone at the club. I can't comment any further. That's just the way it is. I'm in the dark about what will happen next. I'm just training the players and getting on with my side of it." He added: "The players were very lively in training yesterday, I have got to say. They have responded really well in difficult circumstances." Reid praised all the staff for the way they had rallied around. He said: "Everyone has stuck together really well and I think that attitude is showing through more than anything. You always look at people and how they react to certain situations, and there will not be a more difficult situation than this at a football club, and they have been great. They are working ever so hard, and with smiles on their faces."
Damien Johnson, currently on a season-long loan to Huddersfield Town, has suffered a cruciate knee ligament injury and will be out for the rest of the season. Peter Reid has a high regard for Johnson and was bitterly disappointed to hear about his injury. "I think the same surgeon who did Simon Walton will be doing Jonno," said Reid. "It takes six to nine months to get over it. I have spoken to him, and to Lee Clark, who told me he had been doing really well for them. It's a miss for Huddersfield, but you have just got to look at the lad and it's a terrible blow and a terrible injury for him. It's one of the most serious ones you can have in football. Jonno has got a flat up there, so I don't mind him doing the early months into the rehab with Huddersfield." Simon Walton was injured playing for Sheffield United in their first pre-season friendly, and Reid added: "Simon Walton is progressing. The physio keeps in touch with him weekly."
The Argyle squad trained on the synthetic pitch at Ivybridge Community College yesterday, ahead of their trip to Leyton Orient on Saturday. Craig Noone was rested because of a groin injury, while Onismor Bhasera and Conor Clifford were both ruled out by illness. Peter Reid said: "I think there is a bug going around, so we are taking care of the players who have got slight injuries." Despite concerns off the pitch, Reid has been impressed with the positive attitude of the players. He said: "To be fair, the players have been sharp in training for a good couple of weeks. Whether it's coming from a goal down against Dagenham, or winning a derby game, I don't know. But the mood at training has been bubbly." Argyle's win over Exeter was their third win in their last four home league games and Reid added: "One of the things I have been trying to do is get this place a fortress again. I'm not saying we are there by any means, but it's good we have won three of our last four at home in the league."
Peter Ridsdale is to end his advisory role with Argyle. It is reported that Ridsdale was offered the post of chief executive by the board and is also thought that he was prepared to take on the role for no salary. However, other terms could not be agreed, and Argyle are now expected to turn elsewhere to make an appointment. Ridsdale said: "During recent weeks I have been in discussions with representatives of shareholders in Plymouth Argyle Football Club with regard to the ongoing need for investment and help. I have been attempting to be of assistance on an advisory basis, and there are some issues outstanding on which I will continue to advise. There were reports in newspapers today suggesting that I was about to take up the position of chief executive at Plymouth Argyle Football Club. I will not be taking up such a position. I have today informed the directors of Plymouth Argyle Football Club that, as soon as the areas in which I am continuing to work have been completed, I will no longer be involved in the club. I would like to thank everyone connected with Plymouth Argyle Football Club, including representatives of Plymouth City Council, for their assistance over the last few weeks. I wish Peter Reid and the team, and most importantly the supporters, my best wishes for the future."
David Button has thanked Romain Larrieu for being so supportive, after again replacing him following a spell out through injury. He said: "Hopefully, I will stay fit now and can get a good run in the team. I know Romain was disappointed to lose his place on Saturday, but he has been fantastic towards me. He has actually been an inspiration. I know he's always there for me. He wants his place back as much as I want to keep mine, and I'm sure it will be a good fight between us for the rest of the season. I couldn't speak more highly of Romain and how he has been towards me. It's something I can learn from. I'm not sure everybody would have been like that. He has really got the best interests of Plymouth Argyle at heart." Button admitted it had been frustrating to pick up a second injury so soon after his first one. He said: "It turned out to be a tear in my thigh. I'm not sure how it happened. It might have been from doing too much kicking after coming back from my ankle injury. It was quite a significant tear, to be fair. I was told it would take a month to heal, and that was the case. I'm just happy to be back now. It was frustrating to be out, especially with all the games I missed, but you have to take positives out of situations like that. I have been watching a lot of football and sometimes it helps you to take a step out of it and realise what you are missing." Button's injury meant he was ruled out of Argyle's defeat by Exeter in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy, so his first taste of a Devon derby came on Saturday. He said: "The atmosphere was great and with the result going our way it made it even more of a good day. You could tell it meant a lot to the fans, and to the players as well. I really enjoyed it. It was the biggest crowd since I have been here and, hopefully, the win will encourage the fans to keep coming back." Argyle's win over Exeter saw them keep only their second clean sheet in the league this season. Button added: "We looked solid as a team and kept our first clean sheet since the opening day of the season. That was key for us, and it wasn't just down to the defence. The whole team worked hard. Even the strikers get the credit for the clean sheet. We just need to carry that on. Home games are usually where you have the advantage. Maybe that wasn't the case before, for whatever reason. But the way we are playing at home now we fancy ourselves against anybody."
Craig Noone has promised not to be distracted by speculation he could be sold by Argyle in January. Peter Reid revealed last week that Brighton and Hove Albion had inquired about Noone, who said: "I'm pleased clubs are showing interest me, obviously, but I'm just doing what I'm doing for Plymouth at the moment. I will think about my future in January and see what comes up then. But I'm happy playing for Plymouth and doing my best for them at this time." None of Argyle's staff, playing or non-playing, have received their wages for November yet. So beating Exeter was a tonic for everyone at the club. Noone said: "All of the players are delighted with the win. Hopefully, it will give everyone who works at the club a boost because they are going through a tough time. It's good for us all. We have just carried on doing our job. The gaffer has told us to let the off-the-pitch stuff take care of itself." Bradley Wright-Phillips put Argyle ahead in the 28th minute when a free-kick from Noone was dropped by Exeter 'keeper Artur Krysiak. Noone said: "I was delighted for Brad. We know if the ball drops to him he will stick it in the net. I think I got fouled for the free-kick and I just put it into the mixer really. The 'keeper flapped at it and it dropped to Brad, and he chipped it in." Wright-Phillips' 12th goal of the season came in the 57th minute when he headed home a cross from Noone, who added: "I was pleased with the cross. I know if I put it in there Brad is going to do his best to get on the end of it. I had a look up and saw Brad there, and I just put it right on his head." Noone had a new role for Argyle on Saturday, playing in a central position behind Wright-Phillips in a 4-2-3-1 formation. "It was probably one of my best games of the season," he said. "It was a new position for me, in the hole behind Brad. The gaffer asked me to do it and I think I did all right." It was clear what the win against Exeter meant to the players after the final whistle. Carl Fletcher, who returned from injury as a substitute, called his team-mates into a huddle on the pitch. Noone said: "Fletch told us that every one of us deserved the win because we had stuck together." The game attracted an attendance of 14,347 to Home Park, and the players responded to the occasion. Noone said: "The fans were brilliant. I was buzzing about playing in front of a full house."
Peter Reid refused to get carried away after Argyle's win against Exeter City on Saturday. He said: "We have won two on the trot, but we haven't done anything yet. We have won a derby game, but we need to kick on from here. You don't get anything for results before Christmas. You have got to keep it going. We have had a good result but, hopefully, that's only the start. It's our second clean sheet in the league, since Southampton in the first game of the season, so that hasn't been good enough. I'm delighted we have won a derby game for the fans, without a doubt, but it's still only three points. If we win at Leyton Orient next Saturday you still get that same three points." David Button was recalled for the visit of Exeter after recovering from a thigh injury. Reid said: "If you keep clean sheets you have always got a chance of winning games. Hopefully, we can get a few more of them because we do look as though we have got goals in us now." Argyle's staff have still not been paid their wages for November but the players could not be faulted for their commitment to the cause against Exeter. Reid said: "We have had a difficult spell as everybody knows. It has been well documented. I asked the players for a response and the only place we can do that it is on a football pitch, and I thought they did well. There was a great atmosphere and I thank both sets of supporters. The fans are part of this football club. Money is tight at the moment and they have come out and supported us, which I asked them to do. I'm delighted with the clean sheet. I thought we defended well and we always looked dangerous and likely to score goals." Craig Noone had another fine game for Argyle. Reid said: "I thought Noone gave the ball away a lot, to be perfectly honest, but when he gets in those wide positions his delivery is fantastic. I have got to say, the move for the second goal was great. Bhasera had a good run with the ball and stuck it into Nooney, and he didn't even think about it. It was a great cross with that little wand he has got on the left peg, and Bradley finished it off. Both Noone and Wright-Phillips played well, but there were a lot of good performances out there." Reid was pleased with central defenders Reda Johnson and Curtis Nelson, as well as right-back Stephane Zubar. "I could go on," he said. "All through my side I thought there were good individual performances, and that adds up to a good team performance."
Peter Reid changed his tactics for the win against Exeter, playing a 4-2-3-1 formation with Bradley Wright-Phillips the lone striker. Kari Arnason and Conor Clifford played in midfield holding roles with Rory Patterson, Craig Noone and Joe Mason ahead of them. Reid said: "Noone is a threat. He can open people up and that's why I tried to get him on the ball in the middle of the park." Noone did revert to the left-side in the second half, after Carl Fletcher came on as a substitute. Another change saw Wright-Phillips make way for Chris Clark in the 71st minute. Reid said: "We haven't been able to train on grass and he has got a slight knee problem which we have to protect. I knew he was going to last just over an hour and he did a great job for us. It was the same with Patterson. He put a lot in there." Reid insisted the injury to Wright-Phillips was not one which would stop him from playing. He added: "I played with a dodgy knee for 15 years and you have to manage it. Brad is a threat – he's a goalscorer." Reports suggest Argyle's staff, including the players, will receive at least some of their wages for November this week. Reid said: "It's difficult times but we have just got to get on with playing football. But it does help when you get a few quid in the bank. Everyone around the football club has really responded well and, I have got to say, the supporters did as well. It was a great crowd and a great atmosphere. I think in times of difficulty people get together, and there has been a real good spirit among the group of players."
Rory Patterson has revealed that the win over Exeter City was in part thanks to an educational walk around the Harper's Park training-ground. Argyle have been unable to use either Home Park or Harper's for the last two weeks so, on the eve of the game, Peter Reid was forced to adopt a low-key approach to the match preparations. "We've not been doing proper team-work - shape - in training," said Patterson. "On Friday, the gaffer just walked us through what he wanted us to do and we all got it straight away. Not one player was out of place in the game." Patterson followed his match-winning goal against Dagenham & Redbridge with an eye-catching display in a wider and deeper role than usual. "I've played that position before, although not here" he added. "I'm just happy to get a start. I like coming from deep, anyway, so there were a few times the ball was being cleared out and it was falling to me, and I had a few shots. A couple were close, but Brad won the game for us, and there's no better player in the team." In addition to the win, Argyle kept a clean sheet for the first time since the opening day of the season. Patterson said: "After we went 1-0 up, we got together at half-time and said 'We can't concede'. As the second half went on, it seemed we were a better team than them, and the pressure lifted a bit." Like everyone at Home Park, Rory has been aware of the club's financial concerns. He said: "Obviously we can't affect what's going on off the pitch - all we can do is get on the pitch and get a result and, from the fans' point of view, we've probably got the biggest result of the season. It's tough - none of the boys have been paid - but we've been in every day since it happened. We just go out on the pitch and do what we do. We've a big game now against Leyton Orient next week. They are a point below us. We have to go there and put on a good performance, and get as far up the table as we can."
Bradley Wright-Phillips fired Argyle to victory yesterday, despite not having trained for more than a fortnight. The cold weather has forced the squad into training on artificial pitches, leaving Wright-Phillips on the sidelines because of a slight knee problem that does not react well to playing on harder ground. "I haven't trained in two weeks because of my knee," he said. "The manager has told me to be sensible and protect it." Wright-Phillips acknowledged that his goals had proved a decent antidote to what had been a difficult few days at Home Park. "Everyone at the club recently has been through a lot but we all pulled together," he said. "We had a plan to get in their faces and close them down, and we passed it well. We said, in the dressing-room, that we need to do that every week. If we can show that same work-rate every week, we'll be ok."
Craig Noone and Bradley Wright-Phillips will take the attacking plaudits after the win over Exeter City. "We looked dangerous and Noone is a threat because he can open up teams, and that's why I tried to get him on the ball in the middle of the park at first," said Peter Reid. "If he's on the ball, he's a threat to people, so our plan was to get him on the ball. When he gets in the wide positions, his delivery is fantastic. He had a little look and didn't even think about it, and Bradley's finish was terrific. Both of them played well. We had chances on the break and Noone missed one in the first half, and he normally hits the target. Bradley has a slight knee problem that we have to protect. I knew he would last just over an hour and he did a great job for us. Brad is a threat and a goalscorer." There were fine performances elsewhere and the highlight for Reid was a clean sheet, and solid defending from set-pieces. "After getting booked on just nine minutes, Conor Clifford was really disciplined, although I did have my heart in my mouth a couple of times," he said. "Curtis Nelson was super and Stephane Zubar's come in and looked terrific. I could go on because all through my side they were good individual performances and that adds up to a good team performance. We defended well from dead-ball situations, so full credit to the players. We have to keep that going."
Ryan Leonard has joined Weston-super-Mare on loan until January 9th.
Craig Noone captained Argyle to a derby win over Exeter City yesterday. "Every fan you see tells you to make sure you win against Exeter," he said. "Whenever I'm in town, they all say this is the big one. I am delighted for the fans, the players and the staff around the club. It is tough times at the moment, so it's good to get a buzz around the place. It was a great performance. We kept going, working hard and closing them down, so it was a great win for us. We got in their faces and stopped them playing. We knew what they were about and we weren't going to let them play their game. We had our game-plan and we went at them, and it paid off."
Argyle beat Exeter City 2-0 at Home Park, the goals scored by Bradley Wright-Phillips after 28 and 57 minutes. Argyle: Button, Zubar, Nelson, Johnson, Bhasera, Noone, Arnason, Clifford, Patterson, Wright-Phillips, Mason. Subs - Bolasie, Clark, Fletcher (not used – Larrieu, N'Gala, Duguid, Paterson). Attendance - 14,347.
Carl Fletcher is set to return for the Devon derby against Exeter City at Home Park this afternoon, after missing eight matches through injury. The former Wales international admitted it had been a frustrating couple of months for him. He said: "I was fit last week but the game was called off, so that was disappointing. But it's just nice to be back out there running normally again. The injury was a strange one really. Once I got home after the game against Notts County, my leg swelled up to twice the size of my other one. I knew I was in a bit of bother then, and it just seemed to drag on forever and ever. It was just a case of letting nature take its course and getting rid of the blood clot in my leg. But I'm through it now, touch wood. Hopefully, everything will be alright. I'm raring to go."
Exeter manager Paul Tisdale expects Argyle's players to be fully focused on today's game, despite the club's financial crisis. Tisdale said: "We have had our problems in the past and Argyle are going through a tricky period at the moment. But come three o'clock their players will not be thinking about anything else other than winning the game. I don't think all the other stuff going on will have any bearing on the match. I certainly don't think any of that will be mentioned in their dressing room. Their players are representing their football club and they will have their sights set on three points. That is the case for both sides." He added: "If we didn't fully understand the feeling of the encounter before, we certainly do now. They have got a fantastic playing surface and it promises to be a very good football match."
Today's game at Home Park is approaching a 15,000 sell-out. Argyle released a statement last night: "All areas of the ground have only a few hundred seats still available. We are urging fans who have still to buy a ticket not to leave it too late." The current capacity at Home Park is nearly 16,500. However, around 1,500 seats are unavailable today because of segregation issues.
Peter Reid hopes the match pass off peacefully. There will be a considerably larger police presence at Home Park today than there was for the Johnson's Paint tie last month, and extra security measures will also be implemented. Reid thought that, apart from the 'nonsense' that went on, the atmosphere inside Home Park was superb for the last encounter, and expects both sides to have plenty of passionate support for the rematch. "You can have rivalry, but you can have respect as well," said the Pilgrims' boss. "It's two really good football clubs contesting a derby game. People in the area love them. I love them as a football person. So let's go out there and enjoy it, and may the best team win."
Devon and Cornwall Police have warned any troublemakers will be dealt with immediately. Superintendent John Green said: "We know the vast majority of those coming to the game are genuine supporters who come to enjoy an exciting local derby. I want everybody to have an enjoyable day in Plymouth, whether local to the Plymouth area or visiting from Exeter and elsewhere. I would also like to reassure supporters that while there will be a police presence, we are there to assist Plymouth Argyle to stage a great game of football. We have been planning the policing of this match for some time. We have learned from the Johnstone's Paint Trophy game. I hope this is a football match that is remembered for all the right reasons, but if we are faced with a minority who are intent on disruption then they will be dealt with quickly and firmly."
Argyle's reserve team game against Swansea City in the Totesport.com Combination at Home Park next Tuesday has been postponed because Swansea have a FA Youth Cup third round tie on that day. The reserves are now not scheduled to have another Combination match until January 11, when they will be at home to Torquay United.
Argyle will play Exeter City tomorrow, only 32 days after losing 2-1 to them in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy. Captain Carl Fletcher said: "We probably couldn't have a better game really. The players are looking forward to it. It was a good game when we played them in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy, but the way it went was unfortunate when we lost in the last minute. We will be looking to put in a good performance tomorrow and, hopefully, if we do that the result will come. Hopefully, there will be a big crowd here. All the players would like the fans to come along. I know some fans might be disheartened with the way things are going behind the scenes. But, like I say, it's a time for everyone to pull together." And Peter Peter Reid has insisted that revenge will not be the main motivation tomorrow. He said: "The motivation is to win two on the trot. I know it's a long time since our last game, but that's my prime motivation. I can't do anything about the cup tie. We got beaten. It's history, and there is no use focusing any thoughts on it. It's all about this game and getting three points." Reid added: "The players are up for this and they just want to get out there and play the game." That is despite the fact they, and the rest of Argyle's staff, including Reid, have still not been paid their wages for November. Reid said: "The club are actively pursuing that, and I think we will get paid sooner rather than later, but I haven't got my hands on those purse strings unfortunately." He continued: "The spirit among the players has been fantastic. I have got to pay them credit for that. But I would pay them credit for that after we get a result tomorrow." Reid revealed the players had retained their sense of humour despite going without wages. He said: "We have been training at Ivybridge Community College this week and we have had a swear box because obviously there are students around. I think some of the lads piped up, 'We haven't been paid so we can't afford the fine'. I took that in the spirit it was meant, so they have kept their sense of humour, which I'm pleased about. They are a good set of lads and when you look at them, with all the people we have got out and about on loan now, it's a young squad, but it's also a hungry one. "I think they will show what this club is about tomorrow." All of the club's employees, from the groundstaff to those who work in the two club shops, as well as the commercial and media departments and other behind-the-scenes staff are in exactly the same situation. Reid said: "They have been magnificent as well. I can't really put it into words. I have been in football a long time, and it's the first time I have come across this sort of situation, but everyone is meeting it head on. Everyone keeps smiling."
Peter Reid has vowed there will not be a 'fire sale' of players during the January transfer window. When asked whether he was resigned to losing his top players in January, Reid replied: "No, not necessarily. But I'm resigned to it being a difficult time for the football club. Let me put it this way. Everton had to sell Wayne Rooney to Manchester United a few years ago to keep the club going. So, not only Plymouth Argyle, but big clubs have to go through situations like this. I'm not resigned to it, but if it happens I will have the final say on it. The most important thing is the football club but, in an ideal world, I want my best players." The manager was also confident his players would remain fully committed to the club, despite any speculation about moves away from Home Park. He said: "These lads have really got a spirit about them. I have got every confidence in them giving this football club everything they have got while they are here – and, hopefully, they are here longer than January. I haven't got any qualms about that whatsoever. I have kept the players in touch as much as I can. I think it's important you do that. As much as I know, I have relayed it to them. They will play for this football club until we agree a deal with someone. But that's not unique to Plymouth Argyle. There are loads of clubs in that situation."
After mising the last five matches because of injury, on-loan Spurs goalkeeper David Button is available for the Devon derby tomorrow. The 21-year-old trained with Spurs for three days this week, and travelled to Plymouth yesterday. "He's available for selection," said Reid, who would not discuss any further whether he would select Button or Larrieu tomorrow. Should Larrieu be chosen, he would make his 300th appearance for the Pilgrims. There have been slight injuries this week to midfield pair Kari Arnason and Craig Noone (both groin), as well as left-back Onismor Bhasera (ankle), but Reid fully expects them to be available for tomorrow's game.
Carl Fletcher has admitted the unfolding financial crisis at Argyle has been a 'massive distraction' for the players. He said: "People have got bills to pay and families to feed. It probably couldn't have come at a worse time, with Christmas not far away. But I think not only in your work but in life you have got to realise the things you can change and the things you can't change. The only thing we can have any influence over is the result tomorrow, and we will be going out there to try to get a good result in what will be a tough game." Fletcher added: "I don't know the ins and outs of everything. We, as players, probably don't know any more than the general public do. Obviously, there are things going on behind the scenes that need to be sorted out, but we haven't really got any control over that. It's a difficult time for everyone, not being paid with Christmas coming up. It's not just the players, it's all the staff who work hard for this football club. It's a difficult period and the only way we are going to get through it is to pull together and push in the right direction. It's a tough time, and I think you find out more about yourself and more about the people around you when things aren't going well. It's so easy when things aren't going right to jump on the bandwagon, and criticise or moan about it. The hardest thing to do is to pull your socks up and get on with it. It's a tough time for everyone, but we have got to stick together and, hopefully, get through it." Fletcher admitted training this week, despite the icy temperatures, had taken the players' minds at least temporarily off Argyle's cash crisis. He said: "Once we are on the training pitch, you are just thinking about football and it's good. Everyone has been working hard, but it has been difficult with the weather. We have been training a lot on artificial turf, and although it's not too bad it's not the same as training on grass."
Argyle's bank accounts were today unfrozen by a court in London, paving the way for them to pay bills and wages. The club today appeared before a deputy registrar at the Companies Court in London with a validation order, which was approved. That means players and staff can now be paid, if the club has the resources. A spokesman said: "This is the continuation of a process. Wednesday happened and now this has happened. The next progression will be that the bank account will be unfrozen, the account will then be available to pay people at the club. Consideration at the very least will be given to that."
In the absense of official comment after the High Court ruling yesterday, local newspaper reports suggest that Argyle could be poised to sell Home Park to property developers in a bid to clear the club's multi-million-pound debts. With the full extent of debt thought to be between £7 million and £9 million, at least two property developers are believed to be interested in purchasing the Home Park freehold. Any deal would be worth an estimated £5.75 million, with further cash coming from a 'fire-sale' of players in January. The ground was valued at £7.5 million earlier this year, when club shareholders voted to sell it to Home Park Properties Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the club's holding company, but the deal never went through. Two firms are understood to be interested in acquiring Home Park and leasing it to the club on match-days. It is thought that one of the firms is considering the possibility of handing the Pilgrims a £500,000 'loan' as part of the deal, helping the directors to pay off the tax debt. It is still hoped that either current directors or fresh investors will also inject funds before the decisive February 9 High Court hearing. Securing a new mortgage is also apparently being considered as a way of raising quick cash. The club's counsel, Hillary Stonefrost, outlined a 'business plan' that directors had put together during talks involving Peter Ridsdale. She told the court how Argyle were undergoing refinancing and were in ongoing negotiations with potential investors that would bring in "sums substantially in excess of the petition debt and other liabilities". Registrar Ms Sally Barber ruled: "There does seem to be a reasonable prospect of payment for both the petition debts and further outstanding debts over the course of the requested adjournment."
Peter Reid has confirmed that Craig Noone is a target for Brighton & Hove Albion. He said he had held a conversation with Brighton boss Gus Poyet about selling Noone, but would be very reluctant to lose the winger, despite the pressure to cut their wagebill, and insisted his priority is to keep Argyle competitive on the pitch. He said: "I can confirm that I've had a conversation with Gus Poyet over Craig Noone, but that's as far as it's got so far. I told him the player is valued at Plymouth, he's playing well, and I've made him captain for a few matches, and so I would be very reluctant to let him go. He's a popular young player and, if people are interested in him, that's down to his hard work and the performances that Craig's put in. So, yes, Brighton have inquired about him, but I've told them I don't want to let him go."
Argyle were granted a 63-day stay of execution in London's High Court today. Facing a winding-up petition from H.M. Customs and Excise over unpaid VAT and PAYE amounting to over £700,000, Keith Todd was in court this morning to see the club's legal team present a business plan that aimed to prove to the court that Argyle have a credible strategy for getting out of their financial turmoil. Argyle's councel told the court that the club is undergoing re-financing and has been in touch with "a lot of investors" and would, if needed, be able to sell players during the January transfer window. She claimed that negotiations are on-going with investors and terms being agreed which would bring in "sums substantially in excess of the petition debt and other liabilities." The court was also told that this weekend's local derby, against Exeter City, would be a big money spinner for the club, bringing in cash that could be used to pay debts. Argyle also plan to speak to creditors and sell players in the January transfer window to pay off debts and attract fresh investment before their return to court, scheduled for February 9. The Court Registrar indicated this would be the final hearing for Argyle to settle its debts with the HMRC. In a statement, the board of directors said: "Today, the High Court granted an adjournment until February 9, 2011. The board and its advisors are continuing to work through a number of potential answers in order to put the club on a sound financial footing. We are advised not to make any further comment at this time. When we have anything more to say we will advise you."
Peter Reid remains optimistic there is a brighter future ahead for Argyle, once they overcome their current difficulties. "I know what this football club means to the people of this area," he said. "I can't see us going out of existence. I realise this is a difficult time but we will do everything we can to get through this." Some of the club's top players, such as Bradley Wright-Phillips and Craig Noone, could be sold in the January transfer window, and Reid has been in no position to resolve the futures of three who are out of contract at the end of December: Ollie Chenoweth, Lee Molyneux and Jordan Trott. Reid said: "It's something I will be chatting to the lads about and I don't want to go into it now."
Luke Summerfield will be out of action until at least March, and possibly later, after an operation to repair medial knee ligament damage. Summerfield suffered the injury when he was about to return to action from a previous, unrelated knee problem. He started the first three League One games of the season for Argyle, and scored the decisive goal in the 1-0 win away to Southampton on the opening day, but has not played since the end of August because of his knee injuries. Reid said: "The boy has had a torrid time. He has started his rehab but we are looking at March or April before he's back playing again."
Reid is waiting on the availability of David Button for the Devon derby against Exeter City at Home Park on Saturday. Button has recovered from a leg injury but has been troubled by a back spasm over recent days. Reid said: "I'm due to speak to him today and we are hoping he will be available to us on Saturday."
Argyle's fixture at MK Dons, postponed because of the snow last weekend, will now be played on Tuesday, January 18 at 7.45pm.
Talks aimed at steering Argyle through tomorrow's crucial High Court hearing are reported to have been continuing last night. Executive director Keith Todd was unavailable for comment yesterday, but local newspapers report that he was locked in talks with former Leeds United and Cardiff City chairman Peter Ridsdale in London last night. It is understood thar Ridsdale remains at the centre of behind-the-scenes talks aimed at preparing a business case to put before the High Court judge. The club must either pay its tax debt before tomorrow's hearing or prove to the court that there is a viable way of escaping its current cash crisis. It is thought a 56-day extension to the winding-up petition will be sought, though less time could be granted. The club may also seek a 'validation order' that would unfreeze its bank account. If the judge rejects Argyle's case, he could order liquidation of the club. Meanwhile, Argyle's American director, George Synan, is believed to have flown to Japan. Mr Synan - the business partner of Japanese director Yasuaki Kagami - last week vowed to stay in the city until the situation was resolved, saying he was "personally not worried".
Jim Paterson has set his sights on a possible return to action for Argyle when they take on Exeter City on Saturday. He said: "I have trained for the last two weeks at normal match tempo and, fitness-wise, I'm feeling fine. I think I was going to be included in the squad against MK Dons, at least, so I was quite looking forward to the game, but it got called off. I would love to be involved this Saturday. I played for Dundee United in derby matches and they are special occasions. You could see the passion and what it meant to people when we played Exeter last month, although it got a bit silly towards the end. To lose in the manner we did was so disappointing for everybody concerned with the football club. The good thing is we don't have to wait half a season to play them Exeter again. We have got the chance to make up for that defeat this weekend." The recent icy weather has delayed Paterson from making his comeback from injury, and he added: "We played a 60-minute practice match between ourselves a week ago last Friday and I had no problems with the hamstring. Every day after training I have been doing extra work with our fitness coach, Scott Russell. But it's a bit like doing another pre-season, when you need to play games to build up your match fitness." Paterson suffered his injury near the end of the home defeat by Hartlepool United on October 2nd. He said: "I was really disappointed because I had got back in the team and I was playing quite well. These things happen I suppose. I have worked hard with the physio, but we have been careful not to rush it as well because I have been known to be too eager to get back before. I have got stretching and injury prevention exercises which I do during the week. That has helped me get up to speed." Argyle have struggled for consistency all season and were knocked out of the FA Cup and Johnstone's Paint Trophy during Paterson's lay-off. He said: "We have been up and down. I suppose that's the best way to put it. One week we play really well and look to have turned the corner, and then the next week we shoot ourselves in the foot. It has been disappointing. I thought the team showed a great attitude against Dagenham and Redbridge. We didn't play the best and I'm sure the boys would say the same, but they came through it and got a win. We have got to build on that now. It's just unfortunate we haven't had any games since then. We need to put a run of results together."
Peter Reid is not concerned about Argyle's prolonged period of inactivity, after the game against MK Dons was postponed. He said: "We will try to get a couple of 11-a-side games into the players but sometimes a rest does you good and we are hoping that will be the case this time. We played a lot in October and November." The game at MK Dons was postponed yesterday morning, with the pitch deemed unfit for play. Reid added: "They called in a referee to carry out an inspection. They did it all by the book. The lads are chomping at the bit. Training has been really good and high tempo this week so we wanted the game to be on. But you can't dictate the weather. We will just have to get on with it." Argyle had a training session on the 3G pitch at Ivybridge Community College yesterday morning. Reid said: "We had a bit of snow out there but we still had a good two-hour session." The squad were set to train at Home Park this morning to keep themselves ticking over and are off tomorrow before starting to prepare for the Devon derby against Exeter.
Argyle's game at Huddersfield has been moved to January 11th with a 7.45 kick-off. The game has been moved because of the Terriers' involvement in the FA Cup third round.
Argyle's game at MK Dons tomorrow has been postponed due to a frozen pitch
The cold weather over recent days has not proved too much of a disruption for Argyle as they prepare for their trip to MK Dons tomorrow. Harper's Park has been frozen all week so Peter Reid has taken his players to Saltmill Park in Saltash, and Ivybridge Community College, where they have used the 3G synthetic turf pitches. The squad then used Home Park for their training session yesterday. Reid said: "It was good for a change, and I have got to say the surface at Ivybridge is excellent. We have managed to get by with no problems at all. They were good training sessions, to be fair, because on those surfaces you have to get the ball to feet and play it sharp. The lads have enjoyed it, and I certainly enjoyed it as well." Dons officials are confident the game will go ahead, despite the forecast of more freezing temperatures. Reid said: "I would like the game to be on tomorrow. Huddersfield away is going to be off with them being in the FA Cup, so I don't want a backlog. We have had enough time off, I just want to get the game on. That's what we are here for, to play football."
Carl Fletcher and Jim Paterson will return to the squad against MK Dons after injuries. Both had been lined up to play for the reserves against Exeter City on Wednesday but the weather meant the game was postponed. Reid was disappointed the pair did not get the chance of run-outs, but has been pleased with the way they have come through training this week. He said: "They are available for selection, and with the young players we have got in the squad it's always good to have some experience about." Reid is waiting on the fitness of David Button, and added: "He has had a back spasm so we are taking that day to day, which is disappointing. It's too early to say whether he will be fit for tomorrow."
Romain Larrieu and Peter Reid have both spoken about putting some smiles back on faces, after a week of financial crisis at Home Park, by winning their game at MK Dons tomorrow. Larrieu said: "I know the only way we can get everybody's spirits up, and that's from the fans to the people in the office, who are going through a tougher time than most of us, is by winning a football game, and making them proud of the shirt. Tomorrow is a massive game for us. Hopefully, for 90 minutes we can concentrate on football. We have to forget what's happening off the pitch. It's not in our hands anyway. We just have to go out there and perform for everybody who cares about this football club." Larrieu insisted the players were in good spirits, despite the problems off the pitch, and were ready to put in a performance against MK Dons. He said: "Training has been sharp this week. The boys have been at it, which is good. That's what we want. There has been so much talking going on, and tomorrow can't come quick enough. The football pitch is the only place where we can do our talking." Meanwhile, Reid has also tried to drive home the message that unity, on and off the pitch, is crucial now. He said: "You just have to get on with it. It doesn't help, obviously, not getting paid, but it's not only the players it's the staff as well. So, as a football club, it's a matter of getting together and getting through this difficult time. The best way for me, as a manager, is for us to play football games and to win them." Reid made a point of praising Argyle's non-playing staff for the way they had rallied around the club, despite not being paid. He said: "They have been terrific. Everyone is still smiling, even though it's cold out there. It could be worse. You could be on the frontline in Afghanistan at the moment. I would call that a crisis. The situation the club is in is unfortunate, and it's a tough time for everyone at the club, but if we stick together we will get through it. And I mean that in terms of the supporters as well." Attendances at Home Park have dwindled to such an extent that there were only 4,960 at Argyle's last game, the smallest for a league fixture since September 2001. Reid said: "People go on about the gate at the last game, and I can understand why, but we all need to get together and battle through this. The most important thing is the football club. The only thing I can do as a manager, and the only thing the players can do, is get results even though we are going through a difficult time. And that's what we aim to do. A win tomorrow would be brilliant." Reid has spoken to some of Argyle's directors about the club's financial plight, but wants to concentrate on events on the pitch rather than off it. He added: "I have had chats with people, but I would rather let the board get on with it. It's their domain. My primary concern is the football, and that's what I'm sticking to."
Romain Larrieu celebrated 10 years at Argyle this week and could mark the anniversary by making his 300th appearance for the club tomorrow. He said: "It would be brilliant to make my 300th appearance tomorrow. It was 10 years ago last weekend that I arrived in Plymouth. To have played so many games in that time, taking into consideration every single thing that has happened, is something I'm very proud of. We haven't been too successful the last two years, but I wouldn't change a thing right now. I'm pretty happy I came down here 10 years ago." The winter of 2000/01 was particularly wet in Plymouth, and that hampered Larrieu's attempts to show Paul Sturrock what he was capable of when he first arrived at the club. He said: "I remember it rained all the time. I couldn't get a trial game to actually prove myself. That was why the manager forced me into that game against Bristol City, which was a mixed bag for me even though we won. All it did was rain, so all the games were postponed. It took about eight weeks before he said he would keep me and give me another season." Larrieu had a trial with Scottish Premier League club Hibernian in July 2000, but was not offered a contract. He added: "I spent some time in Scotland, with a friend in Kirkcaldy, where I learned English. I did feel that was a major problem I had in my trial with Hibs. I thought I did quite well, but in the game I couldn't actually say anything. So I learned English when I was in Scotland, and as soon as I was in the dressing room at Argyle day in, day out it just improved a lot quicker." Sturrock did not rush to offer Larrieu a permanent move to Argyle so he had to be patient. He said: "I was 24 and I hadn't played anywhere, so he probably wanted to be cautious, which is understandable with someone who is out of contract anyway. He could take his time. I wanted to find out if I was meant for this football or not. That's why I came here. I ended up being in the right place at the right time, which is the biggest factor in a football career." Larrieu remains in regular contact with Friio, who is now a scout for Manchester United in France. "We do keep in touch and I know he keeps a close eye on what we are doing – as he has always done since he left," said Larrieu. "We did help each other a lot in the first few months, but the manager and the boys were fantastic as well. They made us feel so welcome. That's one of the other things I remember from that time. They invited us on the Christmas party, even though we were on trial. It was fancy dress and it was so funny."
Paul Stapleton has insisted that plans for the redevelopment of Home Park will continue despite England's failed World Cup Bid. "The plans still carry on," he said. "We always knew there might be a 'no' vote for England, although we were very hopeful it would be a 'yes' because a lot of work has gone into the country's bid as well as from us. We need to progress our own stadium plans but what this will mean is that we won't necessarily be going to 43,000, which some people may say is a blessing. We will be concentrating on a 25,000-seater stadium with infrastructure. It still means we can hold the events we want to hold, with concerts and functions, and we need to do that for Plymouth Argyle. This football club needs more than 23 days a year from the stadium. It has not been the best week but, whilst we are disappointed, we are going to proceed with our stadium plans and look forward to the future. The Board has been together today and there is unity. We're all shareholders and we're in this together, and working hard on a solution."
Argyle's Board of Directors have vowed that England's failure in the 2018 World Cup Bid will not impact on their determination to secure the future of the club. The following statement was issued from Home Park: "The board of Plymouth Argyle shares in the disappointment of everyone in the city, the region, and the country that England failed to win the vote to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup. We felt that England had a compelling bid of which Plymouth, as a city, and Argyle, as a club, was an intrinsic part. The decision to award the tournament to Russia in no way changes the board's focus of, first, securing the club's future and, then, building a firm foundation from which to progress. We will be concentrating all our abilities and energies on this task."
England today lost the bid to host the football World Cup in 2018 and Plymouth Bid Chairman, Douglas Fletcher said: "This has been an amazing journey for Plymouth, Devon and Cornwall. The FIFA World Cup is the biggest sporting event in the world and it so nearly came back to England for the first time since 1966. We have brought together a very capable team from the public, private and voluntary sectors working with dedication on this for the past 16 months. It is indicative of the South West's sense of community that we put forward such a compelling element of the nation's bid and been applauded for our involvement. The profile the city has had on the international stage during the past 16 month has been unparalleled. That positive focus has identified the substantial benefits the region offers for inward investment and - fundamentally - that ours is a forward thinking city with ambitions to grow and succeed. The Plymouth 2018 consortium teamwork has been praised right around the country and by international observers. From the outset, we described ours as a Peoples' Bid. The high degree of community support has upheld that view and we are hugely grateful for all the support and encouragement. We should strive to take forward the expertise and bid process adopted here, as the experience must not be lost when we are seeking to attract future major events to the region. We have planted our flag on the world map once again. We have seen a sharing of skills from across all sectors and delivered a strong, clear message that the region is attractive and ready for progress. The will to succeed has been recognised by government and investors, and it behoves us all to build strongly on those firm foundations to keep this momentum going forward."
Argyle will appear before a High Court judge next week facing a £7 million debt, according to reports. Lawyers are now working out a business plan ahead of Wednesday's hearing, where the club will seek a 56-day stay of execution. Arriving in Plymouth yesterday afternoon, Keith Todd said it was 'not appropriate' to discuss the crisis, but did add: "We are working with a number of people to resolve the situation." Asked if any directors were willing to stump up rescue money, he said: "Everybody is working diligently on that situation. As soon as there is something to say we'll announce it. It's not appropriate to say anything at the moment." George Synan, would only say: "We are focusing our whole efforts on reaching a solution." Fellow director Robert Dennerly said: "We have had meetings and it's an ongoing situation. We have got our spokespeople." Paul Stapleton said: "No one can say anything at this stage, you know that. I will have to leave it at that." Asked whether he blamed the recession for Argyle's woes as he arrived at Plymouth station yesterday, Todd said: "At some point in the future it might be appropriate to make some comment." When quizzed over whether the crisis at Home Park was harming the city's chances of being a World Cup host city, he would only say: "Plymouth is in the bid and we'll see what happens when the result is announced. The England bid team has put a great bid in. They have always been very happy with the support we've given them. I have got nothing more to say."
Argyle have been unable to keep up payments to the company that installed the club's new pitch, according to reports. The project to lay Fibrelastic Turf, costing more than £500,000, was completed in the summer. Specialist firm Inscapes was brought in by the club to design and lay the pitch, as well as organise sub-contractors. It is understood only a fraction of the money has so far been paid, with Argyle missing staged payments to the firm. An Inscapes spokesman said Keith Todd had been in close contact since a third winding-up petition was served on the club on October 21st, leading to its bank account being frozen. He said: "They made their payments up until a few weeks ago. They have been a little bit slow with the last few payments as a result of HMRC getting involved. One or two applications are outstanding." A Mansfield Sand source said it was also awaiting payments and that taking legal action had 'been discussed', though decided against. "The situation is unfortunate," he added. "We are at the bottom of the food chain."
Steve MacLean extended his loan deal at Oxford United by another month and will now remain at the Kassam Stadium until January 15th.
Argyle must find £700,000 in just one week if the club is to survive, it was reported today. In a statement released by the club yesterday, it said staff have pledged to do 'everything they can', including working despite not being paid, to help the cash-strapped club survive. They held an urgent meeting yesterday amid what the statement said was the 'very real possibility' of job losses at Home Park. Most full-time staff, minus the players, attended yesterday's meeting, and in a statement released afterwards, the club said: "The meeting was unanimous in its support of Plymouth Argyle; everyone is, without exception, proud to work for the club and desperately wants it to succeed. Therefore, notwithstanding the non-payment of wages and the very real possibility that job-losses could result from the current position, everyone will do everything they can to help the club during this difficult period, until such time that becomes impossible. Every member of staff at the meeting expressed a determination to pull together and work as usual to their customary high standards to ensure that Plymouth Argyle carries on as normal. The meeting also expressed 100 per cent support for a speedy and appropriate resolution to the situation."
The proposed £7.5 million sale of Home Park has still not been finalised. Argyle's board agreed in March to transfer ownership of the stadium to Home Park Properties Ltd, which would charge the football club 'market rent' for the use of the ground. Home Park Properties Limited, originally named Scott Lodge Development Limited, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Argyle's holding company, Plymouth Argyle Football Company Ltd. Yasuaki Kagami and George Synan are majority shareholders in the parent company with 38 per cent of the shares belonging to their K&K Shonan Management Corporation. Roy Gardner and Keith Todd own 13 per cent through their company KKC. The remaining 49 per cent is split equally between Paul Stapleton, Robert Dennerly and Tony Wrathall, as well as around 1,000 smaller shareholders. Todd, Stapleton and Wrathall are the directors of Home Park Properties Limited. Todd and Gardner also set up a company named Mastpoint Limited, which 11 international business figures have invested money in. Mastpoint loaned Argyle a seven-figure sum as a second mortgage and holds Todd and Gardner's shares in the club. George Synan, the business associate of Yasuaki Kagami, has been in Plymouth for several days for talks with fellow directors and is remaining in Plymouth until Argyle's financial woes are resolved. He said last night: "At this point in time, we see no reason as to why we can't work our way out of this problem. I'll be here in Plymouth as long as it takes to get this issue sorted out. Mr Kagami and I are 100 per cent committed to working together with the board to put together a long-term plan. We don't want to get ourselves in another situation like this, so we have to make sure we put a plan together that works."
Argyle could receive a short-term loan from the Professional Footballers' Association to pay the wages of their players. Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the players' union, said: "This is very worrying for a club with such a good history. I'm working with the people at Plymouth with regards to getting matters sorted out. I know they are looking to do a deal with HMRC as quickly as possible to unfreeze their bank account and try to keep things going. We will see if we can be of any help to them and it might be possible to give some short-term financial assistance for players' wages. We use our funds sometimes as a lender of last resort if clubs are in problems. Unfortunately, it looks like Plymouth have got problems. It's a situation we have had with a number of clubs in the past." Taylor admitted the PFA had been aware for some time Argyle were in financial difficulties but, even so, he was concerned about the latest developments. He said: "At the moment, I'm led to believe the players are holding up, and we are keeping an eye on things for them."
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