Tuesday, December 07, 2010

7 December 2010: Roadkill

Plymouth Argyle face a winding-up order in the High Court tomorrow, brought by HMRC (they who were of late swindled by Pompey who somehow got away with it).

Normally when this happens, you place the company into administration - effectively, bankruptcy protection - so that it doesn't get wound up. Even Pompey did this. The football club gets a sizable points deduction and probably gets relegated as a result. The administrator tries to find a buyer for the company and negotiates a settlement of debt at some small percentage in the pound, and HMRC votes against this 'Company Voluntary Agreement' and (unless you're Pompey) this results in a further points deduction from the Football League. But the club survives, and after a few years can grind back to normality.

So Argyle, whose 'New World Order' board took over eighteen months ago with promises like 'World Cup 2018' and 'We don't do failure' and 'Five-year Premier League plan' but who since the failure of England's 2018 bid have said nothing, now face oblivion. And unless someone puts them into voluntary administration by tomorrow morning, they're finished.

And the current board - Japanese mega-rich businessmen, Sir Roy Gardner late of Man United (and worth in excess of fifty million quid) and the small remnant of local businessmen who ousted Dan MacCauley ten years ago - are doing nothing, except occasional transactions to get control of the land that was bought from the City Council six years ago. England's World Cup bid was a speeding highway to success, they thought, Plymouth a host city for the world's biggest sporting event.

And now the speeding highway is closed, and Argyle are currently lying like roadkill on the hard shoulder. And nobody is doing a blind thing about it, it seems.

Surely something has to happen in the next 18 hours.

Edit to add: The rumours continue to circulate about Peter Ridsdale - he who is somehow not in prison after running Leeds United into the ground and siphoning 1.4 million pounds out of Cardiff City - being involved at some level with keeping the club going. Strongest one says Argyle will argue for 56-day stay-of-execution and if they get it (if?!), Risdale will be announced on Thursday in whatever role he has, probably some sort of unofficial administrator. This goes from bad to worse: if Ridsdale is the best hope a football club has, maybe oblivion becomes an attractive option.

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