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 NEVER AGAIN - Press release 26th August 2016

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SteelCannon

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PostSubject: NEVER AGAIN - Press release 26th August 2016   Fri Aug 26, 2016 1:13 pm

FOR RELEASE - Friday 26th August, 2016.

NEVER AGAIN

We, the undersigned – present and former Chairs of the Argyle Fans’ Trust, founder members of the Trust, a former Director (when the freehold was originally purchased by the Football Club in 2007) and representatives of other Argyle supporters' groups – firmly believe that the freehold of the Home Park stadium should remain in public ownership with the City Council, in order to safeguard the long-term future of Plymouth Argyle Football Club.

To recall the narrative: in 2007, Plymouth Argyle Football Club bought the freehold of the Home Park stadium and the adjoining Higher Home Park land for £2.7m from Plymouth City Council – a value independently determined by the District Valuer.

The City Council believed at the time that the sale would both assist the Football Club in building a new replacement Grandstand and provide the Club with a sustainable future as well. By May 2008, the freehold had already been revalued at £10.4m and a 20% stake was then sold to an outside investor for £2m.

The rest, as they say, is history. In less than three years, the Football Club was in administration and its very existence was at stake.

Thankfully, after a tortuous process of ‘twists and turns’, James Brent finally bought the Football Club from the administrator in October 2011. The purchase was made possible by the immense sacrifice of both staff and players who forfeited some or all of their wages each month to ensure that Argyle could survive.

That sacrifice was matched by a unity of spirit, both emotional and financial, from Argyle supporters all around the world, led by the Argyle Fans’ Trust. That sacrifice also helped to ensure that James Brent was given a viable position from which he could secure an agreement with the administrator and the Football League to enable Plymouth Argyle to regain its ‘golden share’, albeit with a plan to pay back the Football Creditor debt over a five-year period.

At the time, many supporters said ‘never again’ did they want to see their Football Club placed in such a precarious financial position.

Since 2011, James Brent and his Board have commendably placed the finances of the Football Club back onto a sustainable footing, which has even turned into a small operating profit. With the assistance of an £800,000 loan secured on the Higher Home Park land, the Football Creditor debt looks as though it will be fully repaid by October 2016, matching the plan agreed with the Football League and their ‘leap of faith’ in agreeing to the extended payment schedule.

Now, under the terms of the 30-year lease signed with the Council in 2011, the Football Club (and its parent company Akkeron Leisure Limited) has the legally binding option to buy back the freehold of the Home Park stadium for twelve times the rent pertaining at the time, for a sum believed to be around £1.7m (allowing for the index linked increase to the initial rent of £135,000 per annum).

James Brent is on record as saying "There are two decisions that need to be taken. The first is whether the board of Plymouth Argyle Football Club think it is a good or a bad thing for the Club to own its own stadium. There is a second question as to whether the investors want to support Plymouth Argyle Football Club to buy back the stadium."

He has confirmed that he would not be in favour of borrowing money from a lending institution – which could mean that if the Board does decide to exercise the option and buy the freehold, that money may come from someone else on the Board, or from a new investor.

What James Brent or the Board have not yet done is to set out a strategic or any other reason why the Football Club should buy the freehold in the first place. James Brent has already confirmed that the Grandstand has ‘no timeline’ for construction, although his fellow PAFC Director, Simon Hallett, has stated that there would be an 8% return on the investment if the freehold were purchased.

The reference to “return on investment”, rather than “benefit to the Football Club” is instructive and pertinent. Based on our recent history, purchasing the freehold once again without a clear plan to directly link that ownership to the redevelopment of the Grandstand or any other improvement for the Football Club, has to be questioned.

It should not be used to enhance the shareholder value of the equity directors and the paper value of the Football Club, as it was last time. The Football Club is only five years out of administration and it still remains on the bottom rung of the Football League. Lessons need to be learnt from last time when profits from property value enhancement were sought, ultimately resulting in secured loans against the property, coupled with an inability to pay them back, together with the other debts, including to HMRC.

We say ‘Never Again’ – and so respectfully ask, for the reasons stated above, that the Football Club Board does not exercise the option to buy the freehold of the Home Park stadium in October 2016 and instead puts all its efforts in improving the facilities for spectators at Home Park and to backing Derek Adams and the team to achieve an overdue ascent up the Football League pyramid.


Signatories:
Jim Benton-Evans, first chair, Argyle Fans’ Trust
Graham Clark, former chair, Argyle Fans’ Trust
Bob Foale, current chair, Argyle Fans’ Trust
Andy Symons, former chair, Argyle Fans’ Trust

Damon Lenszner, former director Plymouth Argyle FC

Mark Edwards, Treasurer, PASANB (Northern supporters’ branch)
Sue Clark, secretary PADSA (disabled supporters)
Tony Hooper, secretary, PASTA (Avon supporters’ branch)
John Simmons, PACSA (Cornish supporters' branch)

Sam Down, founder member, Argyle Fans’ Trust
Celia Ellacott, current vice-chair and founder member, Argyle Fans’ Trust
John Petrie, founder member, Argyle Fans’ Trust
Peter Ryan, first secretary, Argyle Fans’ Trust


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alannotivvy

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PostSubject: Re: NEVER AGAIN - Press release 26th August 2016   Fri Aug 26, 2016 1:52 pm

Thanks Steely, keep it going and you may get a new member or two Thumbs
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John_Lloyd



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PostSubject: Re: NEVER AGAIN - Press release 26th August 2016   Fri Aug 26, 2016 3:05 pm

"We, as a club, are more likely to invest in our own asset than an asset owned by a third party. So I think the principle of owning the stadium is a very good one." James Brent, earlier this year.

In which case, why did James Brent spend so much time and money on the HHP plan, which would have developed a "third party asset"?
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lawnmowerman

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PostSubject: Re: NEVER AGAIN - Press release 26th August 2016   Fri Aug 26, 2016 4:03 pm

John if people that you could not contact in time wanted there name added to the statement I`m sure the mods would be willing to add them.
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lawnmowerman

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PostSubject: Re: NEVER AGAIN - Press release 26th August 2016   Fri Aug 26, 2016 4:13 pm

alannotivvy wrote:
Thanks Steely, keep it going and you may get a new member or two Thumbs

I'm one who will now renew.
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alannotivvy

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PostSubject: Re: NEVER AGAIN - Press release 26th August 2016   Fri Aug 26, 2016 4:59 pm

lawnmowerman wrote:
John if people that you could not contact in time wanted there name added to the statement I`m sure the mods would be willing to add them.

More than happy to
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argyledad



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PostSubject: Re: NEVER AGAIN - Press release 26th August 2016   Mon Aug 29, 2016 12:28 pm

I have held back from a knee jerk reaction to the many and varied posts across all the web sites over the last few days, partly because I have been enjoying a weekend in Blackpool and partly to gauge the reaction of fans. I think it is important to stress this sentence from the AFT Chair’s Update:

“It is therefore with sadness that the Board of the AFT is now withdrawing from any further dialogue with the Board of PAFC while it fails to recognise the need for an open and honest discourse with the democratically elected fans’ representatives”.

At such time as PAFC are willing to engage in an open and honest discourse with the democratically elected fans’ representatives, we will be only too happy to take part. With over one thousand paid up members the Trust are currently the largest body of Argyle fans with an elected leadership. We are not, as I have often stated, anti-James Brent. Rather, we are life-long supporters who wish, as critical friends, to have a genuine involvement in our club.     

The ‘Never Again’ statement was not initiated by the Board of the AFT. As chair I was asked if I would add my name to those of previous chairs and other founder members of the Trust, which I was happy to do. Indeed as Graham Clark has pointed out: “This was not an AFT statement - instead it was a wider group of fans coming together to make their views known in a public way, some of whom are also AFT board members”.

Personally I would echo John Lloyd’s recent statement:

“My preference is for a thoughtful and general discussion of the costs, benefits and risks of exercising the freehold buyback - not focusing on specific individuals and not including any confrontational displays. We can do better than that”.

Further I would agree with Ian Newell’s observation that the club’s communication with fans could be more effective. The Trust have been trying to work with the CEO towards that goal for the last two years.

We have in fact met Martyn Starnes on average eight times a year, not twelve, and have never as suggested on the club site sought a meeting with James Brent. Heathrow Green quite rightly states that “there is insufficient information about what the current board would do”, while Pettgreen refers to there being “Only snippets here and there and hearsay”. That is why the AFT is asking for that “open and honest discourse with the democratically elected fans’ representatives”.

The Trust will be holding an open fans’ meeting immediately after the Cambridge home game at 5 o’clock in the Green Taverners Suite on Saturday 10th September. I would urge all those fans who wish to take part in that ‘thoughtful and general discussion’ to join us then. The future direction will be set by those who attend and contribute to the debate.
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mouldyoldgoat
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PostSubject: Re: NEVER AGAIN - Press release 26th August 2016   Mon Aug 29, 2016 12:36 pm

Thank you for that Argyledad.

I will send you a PM.

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sufferedsince 68

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PostSubject: Re: NEVER AGAIN - Press release 26th August 2016   Mon Aug 29, 2016 3:24 pm

Poor old Bob it was going so well until he started agreeing with I'am Nool, will the aft be joining in with I'am Nools website in making a donation to Squire Brents selfless Freehold purchase?
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