Friday, December 30, 2011

30 December 2011: Spikier

So here are the results and indeed the spike this year proved spikier than the spike of last year, thus adding yet another spiky year to the upwardly spiky graph.

As we've yet to have New Year's Eve, the final mini-spike is yet to register, but the pattern of previous years has again proved repetitive: mini-spike in early December followed by steady growth before a huge leap leading to two days of almost-identical viewing figures on the 23rd and 24th, before dropping off somewhat on Christmas Day itself.

And the numbers? Compared with last years twin peak of 1476 and 1479 on the 23rd and 24th respective, this year gave us heights of 2056 and 2082 views on those same days this year, with Christmas Day (1221 views) actually slightly below that of 22nd December (1243 views). So with no intervention whatsoever from myself (except for my previous blog entry), the spiky spike rises to a new high, taking the video itself over fifty thousand lifetime views. Not crazy compared to some of those viral videos, but for a one-week-a-year hit, it's doing pretty well.

The other stats are much as expected - UK males aged 45-54 again dominated hugely. The only interesting one was the one I pointed out previously - viewing sources. There was a slight rise in Facebook percentage but the mysterious 'external' non-traceable source actually ended up accounting for 39.9% of this year's Bill Barclay traffic. YouTube searches came in second at 23.4% (I think that's something of a new phenomenon for that to be so high as well) with Facebook down in the teens and Google at only 8.1% of traffic sources, which is much much down on previous years.

So, Twitter does its job and proves to be the Facebook of 2011 as far as my video is concerned. In fact, if you do a few relevant twitter searches you'll see links to the video popping up at regular intervals and people extolling Bill's genius. Also weirdly this year someone made a negative-sounding comment on the YouTube page and it was sufficiently thumbs-down voted that it actually got auto-hidden. I had nothing to do with it and only saw it a couple of days ago!

Final thing: while Bill Barclay got 15206 views (so far) since the beginning of December, the 2009 Kokomo Christmas Lights video only garnered some 448 views during the same period. Goes to show that dinosaurs come and go, but Scottish comedy lasts forever.

Or something.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

18 December 2011: Spikes

Here's an interesting picture. Is it a heartbeat chart from some medical facility?

No. It's a graph indicating the YouTube statistics of the Bill Barclay '12 Days Of Christmas' video from a few years ago. As you can see, nobody views it during most of the year - if you do a close-up of those sections there are normally one or two views per week. But then at Christmas it just takes off...

Interestingly there's always a little mini-spike right at the beginning of December. Not sure why that is, but maybe that's the unofficial 'start of Christmas' period when folks begin to search for Bill's classic song. Then it drops a little before remaining somewhat steady at a few hundred views per day, then...

December 23rd it just JUMPS - 1476 views last year. Then Christmas Eve comes along and it jumps further (although in 2010 it was almost identical to the day before, at 1479 views), and this is usually the peak. Christmas Day is also pretty big (1201 last year), but never quite as much as Christmas Eve. Then...that's it. There's a very minor spike on New Year's Eve, but essentially that's it for another year and the video slips back into its coma.

And the statistics aren't limited to how many views per day - YouTube also uses 'logged in users' to give me demographic info, and there are no surprises here: vast, vast majority of viewers are from the UK, Male, aged 45-54 - the people who would have remembered the song from the 1970s when they were young. Second most popular source of viewers is the USA, presumably curious Hoosiers interested in what other videos I have up aside from the 2009 Kokomo Christmas Lights (stats for that one, incidentally, are all Indiana, aged 25-34, equal male/female split, but that video only gets a thousand or so views per year now).

It also tells me the 'Traffic Source' for the hits - at least as best as it can. The Bill Barclay video has varied over the years, but Facebook embeds tend to come out on top, followed by YouTube searches (for "Bill Barclay" and "Wee Heavy and a Half Pint" etc), Google searches for the same and a few direct links from sites where people leave it as a message or a comment (2009 featured 528 views after someone left it as a comment on a story in the online edition of The Guardian, a major UK newspaper). This year it's changed slightly - 'Mobile Apps and Direct Traffic (unknown sources)' is suddenly at the top, carrying 42.1% of the traffic for Bill Barclay so far this spike, far ahead of YouTube searches... too early yet for the Facebook embedded links to really get going. This would appear to be largely Twitter-based direct links, which YouTube tends not to trace so well. So, I guess I have some link to Twitter after all, despite being continually bemused as to its popularity.

Anyway, all that is to say that Christmas must officially be here since the spike has begun. You'll notice from that initial graph that the peak each year is bigger - last year's total of over 4000 views in the three day period 23-25 December may be under threat... we'll have to see. I could of course try to fix it by publicising the video on various sites, but it's kind of more fun not to, and just see how people find it on their own.

As for making a Christmas video this year? Hm. We'll have to see... we're in Louisiana so maybe something Cajun featuring alligators or something....

Friday, October 28, 2011

28 October 2011: Green Pilgrim

So the fast is now over, and Plymouth Argyle has a new owner.

And, thank goodness, it's not that Kevin Heaney bloke. He was finally seen off by the Administrator in late September (as therefore was Peter Ridsdale's plan to buy Argyle for one pound and sell off the ground to developers). Heaney is now in deep trouble with his other club, Truro City, which he is trying to run as a professional club but since he has no money, it's now all swirling down the administration/liquidation plughole.

Meantime the Administrator finally agreed to work with James Brent and his Akkeron company to see if they could do a takeover. They completed more in four weeks than Heaney managed in four months - indeed, despite Heaney claimed that completion of the deal was mere hours away, it seems he never even began discussions with the 300 or so football creditors to get them to sign deals. Brent did.

Wasn't easy. Some high-profile folks, including Tony Campbell and former manager Peter Reid, kicked up a fuss at the deal offered, but eventually signed. Some ex-players wanted to sign but it took time, one example being the need to translate into Czech, another being the fact that the player in question is in prison, so in his case what are the legal implications? Working round the clock, one by one, these were all answered by Brent's team, aided very willingly by the Argyle Fans Trust and the good folks at PASOTI. Even Plymouth City Council had a part to play, and they agreed to buy back the ground for 1.6 million pounds, having sold it for over two million not long ago.

Finally yesterday it came down to one thing: the administrator's fee. Despite the fact that all the above work as supposed to be performed by the Administrator but ended up being done by Brent, and despite the fact that the administrator wasted four months by sticking with Heaney WAAAY beyond the six week exclusivity period (that he didn't even pay for in full anyway) - ie despite showing a large degree of laziness and incompetence - the administrator and Brent couldn't agree a figure, and issued press releases saying so.

So, one final mobilization of the Green Army - ie a bunch of folks from PASOTI phoning and emailing the administrator to tell him to get on with it - and this morning the news broke. Everything done, golden share being handed over to a new company named 'Green Pilgrim Limited' and Argyle live on. Somehow.

Not that the good times are close to returning, of course. Argyle survive financially but they are five points adrift at the bottom of the league and most of the good players have been sold by the administrator, who naturally kept the money for himself (and, possibly, Ridsdale, although the facts are less certain there) while the staff and players went without wages month after month. And although Brent states he will be an 'enthusiastic owner', he also states the club will run within its means, which means hopefully they can work out some league safety this year (League Two is really a very low standard so you should be able to finish third-from-bottom if you're any good at all), but don't expect any more five-year plans or Premiership ambitions.

If Argyle do reach the Championship any time soon, expect Brent to attempt to sell the club. But for now, Argyle are safe and they have an owner whose support among the fans is not only unparalleled with any from the past, but due to the circumstances, he may end up being popular long after most owners start getting shouted at for not investing enough.

This was unquestionably the closest call any league club has had to going under without actually doing so. A year of ridiculous scenarios and astonishing outcomes is tracked on PASOTI here, including the Japanese petition, Heaney's 'out'ing after being discovered eating breakfast at a hotel, the administrator's lies and his 'I was given instructions to lie by my solicitor'.

So now we can get back to the important questions, such as whether Matt LeCointe will become the first Ivybridge Community College alumnus to play for the full England team...

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

7 September 2011: Fasting

Actually I'm just fasting from Pasoti.

I found that not only was very little happening with the knife-edge situation - except endless extensions to the Preferred Bidder (who has no money) which continue to be funded by the goodwill of the Argyle players and staff going wage-less (note that the administrator has been paying himself and Peter Ridsdale in full during this period, and neither are cheap. Anyway, little enough was happening compared to the amount of nevous energy with which I was hitting F5 that I determined it would be good to go no-Pasoti cold-turkey for a while for the good of my health.

So I have no idea what's going on there, but I can probably guess.

Meantime it seems Blogger have brought out a new version of the editor, perhaps one that is compatible with the useless-yet-default IE9, Doctor Who was a bit rubbish on Saturday (can Mark Gatiss just not write Doctor Who?), the weather in Kokomo is essentially identical (according to the BBC weather page, at least) to Southampton right now, Hannah is for some reason knocking on everything and saying 'knock knock', the economy continues to bother everyone although nobody wants to admit it, and we're about to come up to the tenth anniversary of the September Eleventh attacks.

And the question everyone is asking each other here: where were you that day?

Thursday, September 01, 2011

1 September 2011: Strike

Plymouth Argyle senior players now threatening strike action over not being paid in ten months. Although there are so few senior players now it may not amount to much of a team change for Saturday.

Elsewhere, rumours abound: ex-Chairman Paul Stapleton seen back at Home Park, could he be part of the BIL consortium? Peter Reid (this one actually reported directly on Sky Sports News) asked Brendan Guilfoyle what happened to the gate money, season ticket money and transfer fees, and Brendan replied he wasn't sure and would get back to him. And, interestingly, a rumour that BIL have pulled out altogether - but James Brent still hasn't received a phone call.

The main thing seems to be that wages went unpaid despite full assurances that money was definitely coming this month. Implying that not only has the BIL money not arrived (well, what a surprise) but that the income from four (4) home matches in August has vanished.

More as it happens.

Update 11.50am EDT: Rumour is that Brendan Guilfoyle has either been pulled off the case, put on gardening leave or something similar by the senior partners at P&A. Not sure what this means for the club (if true) but the stench around Guilfoyle has been becoming unbearable.

Update 12.45 EDT: Matt Slater reports that the administrators (Guilfoiyle or otherwise) have opened talks with James Brent, while continuing to talk to BIL. About time, too.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

31 August 2011: Threads

News from Home Park after all the champagne-popping nothingness of last week?

Not much. Except:

Wages not paid. They were promised to be paid. Administrator (probably) becomes responsible for wages at midnight tonight, although not legally until 14 September.

Sparksy just tweeted: "EGM on 8 Sep to disband the Shareholders' Association"

And a couple of injury-prone players have joined on loan! Could be the shortest loans in the history of the game... more as it happens.

Friday, August 26, 2011

26 August 2011: Extended

No longer a rumour: the administrator has yet again officially extended the deadline for Kevin Heaney to find some money down the back of the sofa with which to buy Plymouth Argyle. Everything is in order, he says, just doing legal paperwork now, and he's satisfied that Heaney has the money.

So, yet again, no actual money has changed hands. Follow the money, that's the key here... and we've seen none so far.

Late Tuesday appears to be the new date. When presumably it'll all be moved again.

Weird thing is that there is no longer anything legally binding to stop the Administrator talking to James Brent and the contingency plan now. But you can bet you bottom dollar he won't - there appears no interest in actually saving the club for the Administrator (who isn't even in Plymouth today, he's in Sheffield), rather saving face by continuing to give his ridiculous Preferred Bidder every chance to complete.

That said, if Heaney does come up with 6 million quid all of a sudden, then I'll happily be proved wrong and glad that there's still a football club in Plymouth.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

24 August 2011: Birthday

Apologies for lack of posts.

About 30 minutes after that one about the sheep-pig, we got a phone call saying Gloria's younger sister had died in a car accident. We've been to Texas and back since, and the process is slow and painful, but thanks to all for the kind words, thoughts and prayers.

Other stuff seems mundane and certainly less important, although today marks a year since little Hannah Elise came into our lives. Hard to believe that a year ago we were in 14-hour labour ending in c-section, and this screaming, pooping (seriously, three times on that little table while they weighed and measured her) red newborn is now walking around, eating with a fork, saying 'noooo' (among about six other words), putting a backpack on by looping the strap over her head (that's a cute one to see, showed my mum on Skype this morning and she was impressed) and about to dive into a panda bear cake on Saturday when we have some people over.

Plymouth Argyle may not last that long. The Administrator has continued to go past deadline after deadline for the 'Preferred Bidder' (despite taking said bidder to court a couple of weeks ago, only to be shown the door due to loopholes in the S&P Agreement), meaning that this Friday could be the final deadline where the Preferred Bidder fails (because he is a chancer with no money) and where the actual, real, bid - the one by the supporters trust, the fans groups, and more importantly Plymouth City Council and an actual millionaire supporter (one James Brent of Akkeron) - yes, a real bid, may be given less than 24 hours to complete a deal that the tyre-kicking preferred bidder has had six months to do and has failed to do so.

Unless Mr Brent is willing to pull out the chequebook and sign his life away, there's a good chance this might be it for Argyle. We'll see. The fans are on a vigil outside Home Park until either Saturday's game (or the announcement of liquidation). Not important really, not compared to the first paragraph of this post, but sad to see.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

30 July 2011: Sheep-Pig

What is this mysterious creature? A genetic experiment gone wrong or a Photoshop special?

Actually, it seems it's a genuine animal and there's no funny Dolly The Sheep business going on at all. Far from being something new and weird, it's actually something old and weird - a 'Mangalitsa' pig, originating from central Europe, and a reminder that a lot of the farmed animals we are familiar with today are only a small subsection of what there used to be... we've carefully farmed the ones we like, let the rest die away slowly and then get used to what we see as being first 'normal' and then 'the only way it can be'. Even pigs with spots on are considered special and different, and who knows how those black-feathered bronze turkeys survived the move to white turkeys (less flavour but easier to intensely-farm and without the speckled look when you pluck them).

Having said that, of course, I'd never heard or seen of this type of pig (yes it IS a pig) until yesterday when I got my occasional marketing email from Uptons the butcher over in Southampton. Seems Simon has got his hands on a few of these pigs and for one week only they're selling them (and sausaging them, I'm pleased to report) at the shop over there. I'd be very curious to see how it tastes - would expect something a little wild-boar-ish, but the email says it's a fairly light meat. I wonder what they're doing with the left-over wool. The email also says they've bought the building next door (the old bed shop) and are going to expand into that, so maybe they're going to have some kind of wool-mill in there or something next to the new fish counter.

Meantime what to report from here? Heat wave has been a little ridiculous, especially with the air conditioning breaking again (new system put in yesterday seems to help), went to see the Atlanta Braves lose to Cincinnati last weekend (and wisely left before it got too disastrous - final score 11-2 to the Reds) and Hannah is walking everywhere, pointing, saying 'no' and 'bye' (two rather negative words for her intial vocabulary I'd suggest) and not far off her first birthday. Argyle continue to fail to resolve anything and legal issues at various levels look about to take off (they could do a Dispatches programme entirely about the shady goings-on of this football takeover), but it's all very tiresome somehow.

Oh, and Mark Cavendish won the green jersey at last in the Tour De France. I know I'm a week late in mentioning it but blogging hasn't been my strongpoint. Question is, which team will he ride for next year? I do hope it isn't Team Sky... purely because he needs to be the main leader of his team, with a team that had multiple aims he would surely not do as well. Partly because of the leadout train, but mainly because HTC spent most of the flat stages of the tour with Danny Pate and Lars Bak at the head of the race chasing down breakaways. Cav's green jersey is certainly him in a big way, but really it belongs to the whole team, and Team Sky won't be able to be as dedicated as that. Certainly not if they want to produce a tour winner by 2014.

On the other hand, there's a pig that looks like a sheep, so maybe anything is possible?

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

6 July 2011: Sham

Plymouth Argyle deal to sell ground to 'Irish Consortium' (actually Truro City owner Kevin Heaney) has been signed. No money has changed hands. Again.

So instead of the original plan of six-week exclusivity in return for one million pounds, Heaney and his 'anonymous backers' (who probably don't exist, at least not any more) have now had three months for about 300k.

The Fans' Trust is making as much noise as possible, but in a footballing world where it's not only acceptable but seen as a good move for Portsmouth to be run as an international money-laundering operation, nothing will be done about the deal which, despite the remit of the administrator, is not and has not been the best deal for the creditors.

The irony is that Kevin Heaney appears to still have no money to back up this 'bid' and so in a few weeks it will all come crashing down again, unless he can dig somebody up quickly. And given that rejected-by-the-administrator rival bidder Paul Buttivant has set a Private Investigator to take a look into the proceedings, I doubt Buttivant is someone Heaney can talk to.

I've actually had enough. If I were in Devon, I wouldn't be going this season. The whole thing stinks almost as much as the Pompey 'takeover', except it's been executed less cleanly and too many false statements have been exposed.

Still, who's to say Truro City won't start playing at Home Park now that their owner, in direct contravention of league regulations, controls both clubs? And Peter Ridsdale can run the footballing side of the business from inside prison, where he could be heading as he's in court this month in Cardiff facing substantial fraud charges.

What a mess.

Friday, June 17, 2011

17 June 2011: Secrets

Was planning on blogging when I get the time to describe my exciting new Kokomo adventure of playing on an 11-a-side football ("soccer") team with people half my age. But that can wait, partly because I don't have time right now and partly due to some breaking Pasoti Argyle news.

So, if you click here and go about halfway down the page you'll see a short report from IJN and his buddies from the Argyle Fans Trust who heard (thanks to useful links in Plymouth City Council) about a meeting taking place between the 'Preferred Bidder' for Plymouth Argyle and the Council concerning plans for Home Park. This meeting had previously been mentioned as happening sometime today by the Council, but the time, location etc were a secret. Unless you have useful links with Plymouth City Council. (Clarification: the guys are now saying the meeting was by chance - my previous sentence was based on info from yesterday and a discussion on the 'Open Diary' held by Plymouth City Council, so I don't yet retract it).

So off they went to the Penthouse Restaurant at the Holiday Inn, and there was Truro City Chairman and several-times-failed-Argyle-bidder Kevin Heaney, along with a couple of architects. Overheard were such phrases as "They've got to say yes, or they'll be in danger of being blamed for Plymouth Argyle going out of business" before IJN and co introduced themselves and saw, on the table, sets of architectural plans for Home Park and the surrounding area. Heaney, to be fair, didn't tell them to shove off but instead did (reluctantly it sounds) answer a few questions, including the key one: are you involved with the Preferred Bidder? Yes, came the answer.

The problems are these:
1. Heaney has no money, at least certainly not enough to deal with the crippling debt Argyle remain in despite the CVA... the 'footballing debt' has to be paid in full (along with tax and NI on that amount) and that debt not only sits around 17 million but continues to rise as long as a settlement isn't reached.
2. On a related note, as long as the settlement isn't reached, the footballing debt will grow and grow, and it appears that the payments for exclusivity have been both late and in small installments, meaning that actually Argyle have lost money through the exclusivity process because it's taking so long. Speculation over the last few days is that the next (small) installment won't be paid, thus the exclusivity will end and Argyle will have to go begging back to James Brent/Paul Buttivant with the story that the debt is now substantially more than before the exclusivity period.
3. Here's the thing really: Kevin Heaney cannot own Argyle. And that's because he owns Truro City. The 'Fit and Proper Persons Test' for league owners isn't exactly challenging (remember Pompey had some guy passed who didn't even exist) but the one thing you can't do (and the one thing they check for) is own two football clubs.
4. The administrator (who is increasingly looking like he's screwed up big time with this exclusivity thing) has also stated specifically that Heaney will not be involved with Argyle post-admin. Although of course the administrator has been known to be economonical with the truth in the past.
5. Oh yeah, Kevin Heaney has no money. So someone else is probably involved in the background, and the noises are it's someone Japanese and someone who's name begins with 'R'. And ends with 'oy Gardner'. Despite they fact they ran Argyle into the ground over the last two years and were said by the administrator to not be involved at all.

So on we go. Entertaining, interesting but overall not positive. All that Heaney (and whoever else is involved) have done is driven the club into more debt by these silly games, and it's looking murky right now as to whether Argyle will start the season - and even if they do, whether they can continue as the footballing debts mount. Something needs to be done.

Incidentally, one of Wayne Rooney's wage packets would not only completely solve Argyle's problems but allow for some serious positive expansion. But hey, there's no disparity between clubs in English football, is there?

Update: Plymouth Argyle issue a statement confirming Heaney's involvement, but being a little unclear (in fact, directly contradicting itself) on whether he's an 'advisor' or whether he has an 'interest' in the property side of the proposed deal. Details also given on the two-part deal - firstly for Heaney (or whoever) to buy the ground and lease it to the club, which will be 100% owned by Peter Ridsdale. So when the administrator said Heaney could not and would not be involved, it was a big pile of porkie pies.

Not that that's a surprise. I'm losing faith rapidly in any conclusion to this smelly, suspicious deal. And nobody has said where the money is coming from to pay the wages of the players, now some six months in arrears and which must be paid in full ("footballing debts").

Thursday, June 02, 2011

2 June 2011: Untimely

Becky asks about the Vibrams. And here's the news - they're going back to the shop.

Nothing to do with the pain in my calf muscles, but mainly because despite having them for only six weeks, the stitching is all coming apart on one of them and as it's still under a ninety-day warranty, they're going back so I can get a replacement. Whenever I can get back down to Indy, at least, and given that we're going to Texas for a couple of weeks (leaving tomorrow) and won't have time to stop at the shop on the way, it may be no more Vibraming for me until we get back.

Which is a shame, because I'm making progress. Less pain in calf muscles and now able to run at 10.6 km/h (up from 10.1) without the calves tightening up too much. Still only doing 30 minutes at a time though, which is very short, but really... it's like learning to run all over again. Very very weird.

Argyle latest though isn't so good, rumour tonight is that the "Irish" bidders missed their second payment for exclusivity, apparently they've now read up on the football creditor's rule and they want out of the whole thing. James Brent better still be interested, or it's night-night Plymouth Argyle. Fixtures out in a couple of weeks, and Argyle's name may yet be missing from the League Two list.

Just like my Vibrams, it's all unravelling...

Friday, May 06, 2011

6 May 2011: CVA

So the lack of bloggage merits an apology, although it's not entirely my own fault - the 'Rich Text' editor used by blogger (at least the one I seem to have) has forgotten how to do paragraphs and that makes blogging a good deal less instant than it should be. Still, it's a steak compared to Twitter's hamburger.

So while I should be updating on life in Kokomo, new job which is 100% work-from-home, the delights of an eight-month old baby (although Gloria's Facebook does a better job of that one and the promotion of Saints, not to mention Doctor Who old and new ('The War Games', Patrick Troughton's last serial from 1969, was superb - start to finish - and blew my previous statements about Troughton and writer Terrance Dicks right out of the water)... anyway, while I should be talking about that, I'm not, mainly due to lack of time and my annoyance with having to put paragraph HTML tags around everything I write.

That said, today is a big day for Plymouth Argyle. Monday saw Saints win 3-1 at Home Park to ensure they were promoted and Argyle were relegated, but today is a bigger fixture for Argyle - the Creditor's Meeting where everyone owed money by Argyle votes on whether to accept an offer of 0.77p in the pound that they're owed.

Yes, that's right - not 77p in the pound but 0.77p in the pound, less than 1% of what they're owed. James Brent's 'last-man standing' bid appears to be the basis of this offer (we'll know for sure soon), while rival Paul Buttivant appears to be offering a massive 3p in the pound. Problem is, Buttivant has yet to convince the Administrator that he actually has any money... he is sounding off about it, and starting to appear to be another 'Pinnacle' (see the Saints saga from two years ago for details on that one). So, the meeting goes ahead as I write this and the offer is on the table.

Thanks to the wonder of Twitter (hamburgers are good when you need something quick, right?), and the fact that the Administrator let the media stay in the meeting, we have live coverage of the meeting... and the news is...

The CVA has been approved.

In addition, the Administrator says he has signed exclusivity with the preferred bidder (wow! didn't think that would happen to be honest) but we don't know who it is -- the Administrator won't tell us. Yet.

"Can't say who preferred buffers are - until June 14 - but are genuine football people" - which would actually seem to rule out James Brent, although you can never assume anything...

Further updates to follow, no doubt...

Update: While not giving away the identidy of the preferred bidder, the Administrator is saying who it isn't - and it's not James Brent, and it's also not Paul Buttivant. Which leaves us with the little-known Irish bid or some dark horse bid that nobody had a clue about before. Let the guessing begin...

Monday, April 04, 2011

5 April 2011: Lifted

Just past midnight in the UK, and the embargo is lifted.

Not that there's much to say. Matt Slater on the BBC website for the first time names James Brent as the front-running bidder for Plymouth Argyle, and a statement released to Pasoti via the Argyle Trust puts a little more detail on it, including their plans to 'run the club within its means' which is what they were doing, with astonishing success, some seven years ago. Still no agreement with the Mastpoint people who are holding up proceedings while trying to get their money back from the stadium mortgage, but it appears that agreement is the only thing holding proceedings up.

In other news, the first CVA offer to creditors has been put together by the administrator - 1p in the pound. A darn fine way to cut the debt, I'm sure you'll agree, but I doubt the creditors will be happy with that. Story seems to be that it's this administrator's way of making the actual offer (probably closer to 5p in the pound) a little less disastrous-sounding when it comes out.

Still, worst that can happen there is Argyle fail to exit administration via a CVA and get a further points deduction of 17 or so and end up in the Blue Square Home For Former Football League Clubs, before bouncing back a season or so later and preparing for another one hundred and twenty-five years of mid-league obscurity.

The worst that will happen if Mastpoint fail to renegotiate the debt, conversely, is that Argyle cease to exist. But as of right now that's looking a little less certain that a while back.

4 April 2011: Embargo

Rumours are that things are afoot at Home Park.

Except that there appears to be an embargo in place on any news until tomorrow, so we'll have to wait.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

3 April 2011: McGann

So, as the Argyle pantomime continues to fail to come to a conclusion (some deal may or may not have been agreed with existing creditors covering the value of mortgages on the stadium or something), Saints continue to stutter towards a possible auto-promotion place in League One, the Braves split their first two games of the baseball season against the Nationals, nephew Matt prepares for a couple of years at some new Groovey school in Salisbury and Hannah continues to sleep twelve hours at night and generally be very nice to us during the day, and the cold season appears to begin to give way to the tornado season here in Indiana, it's time for a couple of updates.

Firstly on the sausage front, an interesting visit to Louisiana where some step-family-in-laws have a small butcher/grocery shop. In fact Denise, the sister of my wife's step-mum (following this?!), was sufficiently fascinated by my previously-blogged sausages that she had us bring some stuff down with us so we could make them with her in her shop. Not giving away the magic Upton's recipe, of course, but we did make a few for personal consumption using the commercial equipment (and by the way, may I say how pleasurable it was to not spend forty minutes trying to stuff sausagemeat into the top of a Kitchen Aid mixer attachment, but instead just load it in a real mincer and have it fly into the skins in no time at all) and Denise looked thoughtful as we twisted them before saying 'I bet I could sell those'. Just three packets of four were put together for sale, marked as 'Market Special' and placed in the meat section. Two were sold before we left the shop, with the third being sold later in the day. Feedback from the sales was positive - and this was a pretty mild Lincolnshire recipe without too much sage. So who knows, maybe there's a demand for fresh-made quality bangers down in Louisiana. If nothing else it was worth it to see Denise get so excited.

Later in the day I showed her the YouTube video Simon from Upton's made about making sausages. She watched it three times and we spent the rest of the evening trying to locate an industrial-size sausage stuffer as featured in the video.

Secondly, I promised a word on the 'Doctor Who Movie' starring Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor, watched last week after many years, and very interesting in a few particular regards. Most interesting was watching it in light of the new series. At the time it came out it was so different to what we thought Dr Who was that it wasn't really the same thing. But now... it wasn't too far-fetched at all. No real fun aliens of course, and it was a bit Hollywood what with the motorbike chase and the Big Fight At The End and all that. Still, it wasn't completely out of place (aside from that whole The-Doctor-is-half-human thing that doesn't fit at all) and was worth watching.

Also interesting to see the different character of the eighth doctor too. In fact it was Gloria (who doesn't really do Doctor Who) pointed it out most clearly with her statement: "This Doctor is just ignorant. David Tennant was never ignorant, he always knew exactly what was going on." And maybe that was the problem. Not enough of a character for us, the audience, to get hold of. Was he a hero? Or a victim? Or were we supposed to root for him to get together with the female lead? I understand that they've developed his character with the various BBC audio stories he's done - and indeed is still doing - but still, that was the reason I think I couldn't really enjoy it. It was ok, and in light of the new series it was actually pretty good, but the story was weak and the Doctor's character was, well, missing for the most part.

Presumably there'll be some kind of 'Doctor reunion' thing in a couple of years time when the show turns fifty years old, and McGann and the rest will be wheeled out then, but... you know what? The more I think about it, the more I think Russell T. Davies missed a trick by not having McGann's doctor in there as a cameo in 'The End Of Time'. Think about it, that bit at the end of the first episode where Rassilon is chairing that meeting of the Time Lords and they discuss that 'The Doctor is still out there' and 'he still possesses The Moment' and all that stuff. They're talking about McGann's Doctor at that moment. If they'd have done some kind of magic-crystal-ball thing to see where he was, it's Paul McGann we'd have had to see. Minor cameo, fitting with in with the story, could have developed the character just slightly and seen what became of him. And I think they definitely missed a trick there.

But what do I know? I just make sausages.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

27 March 2011: Netflix

We've had Netflix for a year or so now and still finding new things to see. Gloria is steadily working through the recent BBC version of Robin Hood and I've been ploughing through the back-catalogue of Doctor Who for quite some time.

It began around the time Hannah was born - I saw that along with all the 'new' Doctor Who (ie post-2005) there was a pretty decent selection of the 'classic' series represented there. And at 4am, after the re-runs of the Dukes of Hazzard have finished (which, by the way, is a whole other story: I don't recall it being quite so cartoonish, but it was) and there's nothing on TV but random shopping channels (and yet the baby continues to scream and head-butt her father), there's not much else to do but put on Netflix (on the Wii, by the way, which is a fine development) and see what's out there. Messrs Hartnell, Troughton, Pertwee, Baker (T), Davison, Baker (C) and McCoy were willing to oblige.

Began by watching a few I remembered - mainly early Davison outings (I realised the series I watched most intently was the first one after Davison took over when I was about six) - and these were pretty good. Then onto some very early ones - in fact, the first story, in which Hartnell takes two nosy schoolteachers back in time ten thousand years, which was really quite enjoyable.

Troughton next, and he was a bit rubbish in my opinion compared with the press he gets about being one of the better ones. The one where they go into the Void and Jamie gets replaced by another actor for an episode was very weak. 'Tomb of the Cybermen' - said to be a firm favourite of current doc Matt Smith - was confused and showed the Doctor more as a victim than anything else. 'The Krotons' gave a little room for hope (mainly because Zoe was in it and she was portrayed as more intelligent than Troughton's Doctor) but overall they were ok at best.

Pertwee came in with a bang - 'Spearhead From Space', his first story from 1970 (and the first in colour) took a while to get used to (they really did try to make Doctor Who into James Bond for a while, didn't they?) but overall was superb. UNIT over-feature of course, but the ones Netflix had for me to 'Watch Instantly' were a clear step forward from the Troughton disappointment for me. There's one I've yet to see - The Green Death (where Jo Grant leaves) but I've now seen the three or four others they have on Netflix and overall it's pretty good. Even 'The Three Doctors' was worth watching again (saw it on YouTube once) but sad to see Hartnell so ill by that point and looking to one side to read his cue cards all the time.

Then came Tom Baker, and the person at Netflix in charge of Doctor Who clearly prefers Tom to any of the others. Plenty to view (although Genesis of the Daleks is DVD-only so I've not ordered that one yet, having seen it a couple of times before) and obvious to see the highs and lows as the time progressed. The early ones with Harry and Sarah-Jane were pretty decent but allegedly the best era (with Leela) was disappointing. 'The Talons of Weng-Chiang' is viewed as being possibly the best Doctor Who story ever by a lot of reviewers but was ok at best - knocked spots off Troughton's stories but fell short of Pertwee's best - whereas 'The Horror of Fang Rock' (an attempt by perennial script-writing disappointment Terrence Dicks - seriously, did he ever write anything good - to get in on the 'horror'-genre Doctor Who stuff) was a slow-moving boring waste of time.

Netflix had (for a few months) the entire 1978 season - 'The Key To Time' - available for instant view, so Hannah's early mornings enabled me to watch those straight through in about a week. And in there lay the best ever as far as I'm concerned - 'The Pirate Planet' by Douglas Adams, a decent-paced imaginative (yet not confusing) story, with a few twists on the way and some superb humour, including K-9 as a hunting dog who eventually returns with the pirate captain's robot parrot impaled on his telescopic nose.

Goes downhill fast after 1980 came along and John Nathan-Turner took over the production. Baker's last season was disappointing - a shadow of the former Doctor - and despite some interesting early outings for Davison, it was downhill. 'The Caves of Androzani' - Robert Holmes' only story for Davison - was pretty strong (not as great as everyone makes out), mainly because it was so bleak and hopeless for the characters involved. And then Davison regenerated into Colin Baker and that was that. Sheesh, was that ever that.

Netflix had only one Colin Baker story for instant view - 'Vengeance on Varos' - which was unutterably awful. It was a one-dimensional story involving running around corridors and being periodically caught, with no subtext, subplot or anything else beginning with sub. It stank. Nicola Bryant's clothing appears to be the only reason the ratings didn't completely collapse. If Pertwee and Baker (T) proved anything, it's that to some extent you have to be able to *like* The Doctor. Colin Baker's Doctor was generally unlikeable in any manner at all.

Then finally we came to Sylvestor McCoy, who (as I think I've said before) had two pretty dreadful series before the final one picked up a good bit in terms of storylines. Indeed, some of the darkest, most interesting Doctor Who stories are from McCoy's last season. Two problems though: (1) it was on against Coronation Street on ITV on a Monday night and (2) - and this is the new one for me having the blessing of Netflix - the production values were still stuck in the 1960s. Not even the 1970s. It was so low-budget that the fascinating stories just get lost in the cheap sets and poor-quality explosives, and as a result it's not Drama any more. It's not Children's TV. It's not Horror (which, at its best, Doctor Who is). It's not Comedy. It was just disappointing, such a far cry from The Pirate Planet of 11 years previously.

And so it was cancelled by the BBC. And despite various attempts to resurrect it, nothing new came on the screen until 1996. And *that* was supposed to be the theme of this blog, but I just realised I bored you senseless with the preceding essay so I'll stop for now. 'Doctor Who - The Movie' is available on DVD from Netflix and last night I watched it, along with a couple of documentaries on the DVD Extras. And it was interesting, and for different reasons than I remember.

But more on that later... for now just know that if you have a new-born baby who wants to cry at night and head-butt you, Netflix can be your friend in so many ways.

Postscript: Nothing new on Plymouth Argyle as they limp onwards towards something. The creditors may this week end up in court over a fake valuation on Home Park that they did a while ago, but we'll see.

Friday, March 18, 2011

17 March 2011: Nope

Administrator Brendan Guilfoyle hoped to announce a preferred bidder for Plymouth Argyle today. Or at least announce that there is a preferred bidder, even if the name wasn't revealed.

But of the four bids that came in on Monday, none have the money ready to take over. And the Administrator can't take on legal responsibility for paying the wages of the club with no means of paying the staff.

So today he asked the staff to sign contracts saying they wouldn't be paid for March and April, and if they couldn't sign the contracts, they had to leave today. Some did, some didn't. If enough don't, there'll be nobody to make Saturday's game go ahead.

The Administrator said he'd like the game on Saturday to go ahead, to show bidders that there's life in the old club yet. But as of right now, we're beyond the stated finish line and the 124-year-old club teeters on the brink of liquidation. And all for the greed of seven men who bet everything - including a 'model'-run middle-league club just five or six years ago - on a World Cup bid and some non-existent Japanese millions.

Negotiations continue, say the journalists. But right now, it looks pretty dark.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

8 March 2011: Deadline

Minutes from a meeting between the Administrator of Plymouth Argyle and representative of various supporter groups have been placed on (the new-look) PASOTI.

Among other matters discussed were a variety of sensible and silly ways to get more money out of the fans, and the fact that the Youth Development Trust Charity (PAST&DT), set up to save Argyle from Dan MacCauley all those years ago, donated £300k to the club as a 'loan' a couple of weeks ago and, already, "it's gone". Roll on an investigation from the Charity Commission...

But the main thrust is this: if there's no buyer by 17 March, the plug will be pulled and Plymouth Argyle will be no more. The Administrator is currently working with no funds, and if nobody comes in to fund the administration (let alone the club) by that point, that will be it.

And what are the chances? No idea - it's very hard to tell, and from the Saints experience it would seem that we shouldn't know... any bidder who comes into the public domain is usually a charlatan. So from that point of view, it's good that nobody appears interested... right? Officially, three interested parties, and it will be at least Monday before a 'preferred bidder' is identified. OK, but Monday is the 14th. That is three days before the deadline.

I'll be in Louisiana next week as we visit the family down there. I may not be sleeping much Wednesday night.

Friday, March 04, 2011

4 March 2011: High Court

Plymouth Argyle Enter Administration - latest from Matt Slater's Twitter. Updates include the fact that the Directors voted for Admin, therefore they appointed the administrator... their barrister then related that fact to the court as it continued in session. Presumably this was to pre-empt HMRCs actions of appointing their own administrator. The court then denied the HMRC petition, so that's that for the day in court.

Brendan Guilfoyle, the Administrator favoured by the Argyle board, arrived at Home Park around 2pm. He's done other football-related admins - most notably Crystal Palace - so does seem to be a good choice. Would appear that HMRC's actions got Argyle into admin, but not with the administrator the taxman would have ideally liked.

Still, it's the next step in the process. Maybe the mess that is the current Board of Directors can get cleaned up without destroying the club in the process...

Earlier Post:
Argyle somewhat surprised to be in the High Court today.

Yesterday one of the PASOTI spods found Argyle were listed as appearing there today, rather than next week (for appointment of administrators or otherwise) but instead HMRC (UK taxman) took them to court today to see if (1) they could get a new winding-up order issued and (2) if they could get the court to appoint their favoured administrator rather than Argyle's. (See the Pompey scenario for why HMRC don't like other people's administrators).

As I write, HMRC have told the court that one way or another Argyle will be in admin by end of day, and the hearing has been adjourned until 2pm UK time (9am over here... 15 mins from when I write this).

More one for twitter than blogger I think - Matt Slater covering for BBC, and a good overall search here.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

2 March 2011: Futile

Matt Slater has penned an interesting, if depressing, summary of the Argyle situation here.

The main thing seems to be that nobody has either the money or the inclination to stop the club falling into administration or worse. Ridsdale has walked out (third time that's happened? Don't really believe him any more... if I ever did...) saying the Directors are all just doing in-fighting and nobody is actually trying to solve the problems.

The Japanese have a new investor in their ranks and he has sent over 1.4 million quid.. but not to Argyle, instead to the club's lawyers. They are holding it until the local directors put in 50k each, at which point the funds will be released.

But all that will happen is that they'll then pay January's wages with it (maybe February's too) and then owe a huge tax bill on it.

And with the ten day grace period following the Notice To Appoint An Administrator up on Monday, and only a fifty-fifty chance of getting it extended by another ten days, many Argyle fans are saying this is probably the darkest moment so far in the saga.

There's no intrigue or corruption undertones like with Pompey, there's no wealthy fans who may or may not be interested like with Saints... just a nice family club that's been run into the ground by greedy opportunists who saw a potential World Cup bid and put all Argyle's eggs in that ridiculous-sounding basket.

Latest rumour is that Argyle can't even afford to appoint an administrator. If that's the case, the end may be a lot nearer than we think.

Monday, February 21, 2011

21 February 2011: Told you


In other news, I started a new job and for some reason they observe today ("President's Day") as an official company holiday, so I have the day off. Nothing for Easter, of course, so the next holiday is Whitsun, or 'Memorial Day' as it is over here - last Monday in May.

Upsides of new job, however, include more vacation overall, very little travel and (therefore) the ability to work remotely (ie from home). Overall, a pretty decent deal and less travel should mean more time for other things, including Hannah (now six months old!), carpet shampooing and (unusually for me) a computer game - specifically FIFA 11 ("FIFA Soccer 11" over here of course) on the Wii.

This came about after a recommendation (and a trial play) from nephew Matt over Christmas, in between him and Jamie playing Lego Star Wars (at which I was not so good, nor so interested). Matt has the XBox360 version, so no online play for us, but it was fun and relatively easy to pick up the controls and worth getting...

So here I am, mid-season in the classic 'Battle for Glory' (ie league play) mode - yet to try the one where you make a player up and take him from street soccer to the Premier League. Naturally I'm playing as Plymouth Argyle, but it's weird (1) to see certain players (Maclean) who were/are rubbish for Argyle having to play as they have the highest rating, and (2) to see players who have now left the club (Bradley Wright-Phillips, Reda Johnson etc) playing for Argyle... seems wrong somehow.

Except that I just hit the midseason transfer window. I tried to sign half-decent players but in the end decided to just plump everything on one superstar player. Wayne Rooney refused to join Argyle (well, who can blame him) but his mate Berbatov wasn't averse to moving to Jannerland, so my strike force became Berbatov and Wright-Phillips. Then Kevin Phillips (Bong*) became available, so I signed him as well.

Thus Argyle won the League Cup this morning.

In the real world, administration came knocking, as did the official ten-point deduction, and the reminder from the media that tax bills are due and the club hasn't payed the player's wages since November.

Trading while insolvent? Only argument is whether Argyle can be classified as 'trading'. Sinking would be nearer the mark. Ridsdale has people lined up and pre-packed Admin is the rumour of the day.

But it can really go so wrong from here.

On the flip side, Saturday night saw us (unusually, actually) watching telly, and there was another one of those spit-drink-out-of-mouth moments that last occurred when I turned the TV on and saw Premier League football on ESPN. This time it was even better: a commercial for breakfast cereal.

Not just any breakfast cereal.

Crunchy Nut Cornflakes.

Oh, yes. They've been launched over here, only about thirty years after the rest of civilisation. I sat jaw-opened pointing at the TV screen like a complete ninny. Went and bought two boxes the next day. There's something weird about seeing Crunchy Nut boxes with the big word 'NEW' emblazoned over the top of the carton, but it's one for the record books.

And one less thing to bring back whenever we visit the UK. Now, as for Alpen...

(* polled no votes at all.)

Friday, February 18, 2011

18 February 2011: Argyladministration

After so long with no blogs, and much to discuss, the first blog for ages is naturally about football...

Rumours out of Home Park this afternoon are that a Board Meeting took place and the decision was made to place the club into administration. Don't know who the administrations are (better not be Andy Android) and further rumours are it's pre-packed admin - ie a buyer has been found, provided the debts are reduced. And HMRC have been paid for the most part, so they won't have more than 25% of the debts.. so a CVA should be possible (see earlier Pompey discussions for how Pompey cheated their way around that one).

Watch this space. Or Pasoti, for better inside info than you'll get here...

Update: Peter Ridsdale denies Argyle 'are in' administration but it seems very carefully-worded. Hints now at end-of-day today or at the latest, Monday. There's another tax bill due on Tuesday. Either way, it's all kicking-off... Argyle relegated again no doubt due to points penalty... hopefully can stay in the league next year. And yet less than a year ago we played a league game against Newcastle, currently in the Premiership.