Plymouth Argyle face long-term struggle despite short-term help from Peter Ridsdale

Peter Ridsdale is a name that conjures up strong emotions for many football fans, particularly those who support Leeds United. The man whose stint living the dream when Chairman at Elland Road turned into the nightmare of financial meltdown for the club’s fans was drafted in by Plymouth Argyle to help save the League One side from a similar fate. Despite Ridsdale’s past, and with two winding up orders having been avoided, chairman of the Argyle Fans Trust Graham Clark says the now-departed financial advisor helped the club a great deal.

“I’d like to thank Peter Ridsdale for the work he has done,” Clark said, adding: “He made the hard decisions that probably saved the club, at least for now. He took the decision to sell players and cut costs that someone else might have shied away from.

“Peter was also very communicative which I have to give him credit for, especially as the board was usually so shrouded in secrecy. He also took action against the club’s Japanese owners by passing a letter from them that promised their investment to the local newspaper, which had a big impact on the club’s situation.”

The letter to which Clark refers was a signed document from Yasuaki Kagami, Argyle’s main shareholder, dated December 3 2010, which assured a £2m sum to be delivered in four instalments of £500 000, starting in December last year and stretching to March 2011. The first two payments never arrived. Clark admitted: “Logic would dictate the next two payments won’t arrive either but we’ll wait and see. We’ve had no money at all from our Japanese-based owners since they took over in 2008. One Argyle fan in Japan even went to Kagami’s office with a TV crew and a petition of 6000 names to try and get him to do something, but didn’t get anywhere.” The third payment is due at the end of the month.

Clark feels Plymouth’s unfashionable status and distance from the rest of the football world left Argyle in trouble, and without the spotlight their situation deserved. “We’re out the way down here, forgotten about. When you look at the coverage Sheffield Wednesday and Crystal Palace received, it pales into comparison. No-one hates us, except maybe Exeter fans, and when Newcastle came down here last season their fans had a great time, they said. They were amazed at how nice and friendly everyone was.”

Despite the boost of avoiding the pair of winding up orders, Clark remains cautious about the club’s future. “If Argyle failed and went out of business, which is still a possibility in the summer, we would be the biggest club to go bust. You can’t rule it out. Plymouth would then be the biggest city in the country without a professional football club.” He continued: “We’ll work with anybody to help. There are three rumoured groups of investors in Argyle but I’m not sure who they are. It could just be someone has said they’re interested, whether they could actually invest is another matter. But investment in football to me is strange. I think it just means losing more money.”

To read more from the Argyle Fans Trust, visit their website.

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