Notes from Supporters meeting with Administrator.
PAFC - Brendan Guilfoyle, Peter Ridsdale, David Hinchcliffe, Rick Cowdrey
Supporters – Chris Webb (Trust), Sally Snow (Trust), Damon Lenszner (GTs), Mark Russell (GTs), Ian Newell (Pasoti)
Media – Herald Reporter
Please note that these minutes are not verbatim but try to give a flavour of the debate / discussions.
Meeting commenced 1530.
Chris Webb opened the meeting by asking Brendan Guilfoyle to give an overview on recent development and stated that there were a number of supporters’ questions that had to be asked.
Brendan Guilfoyle agreed with the meeting running in this format.
BG gave the following overview
• The Sale and purchase agreement was a 3 way deal. 1. Bishop International LTD, 2. The Administrator, 3. Plymouth Argyle 125 LTD.
• Contracts have now been exchanged and signed. The expected completion timeframe is 4-6 weeks but start of the season is the target.
• There was no deposit paid by the preferred bidder upon exchange of contracts.
• Preferred bidders have handed over a total of £300k during the whole process.
• Last month 50% of wages were paid.
• Staff and players have been asked to sign a further deferral for July. Administrator is working on sources of income to ensure the wage demands can be met and that the deferral is the “current” position but this could and hopefully will change dependent on income.
• Season ticket sales will be officially launched tomorrow. These will be held in a separate account to be run by the administrator. This money can only be used to run the new club going forward (whoever maybe the owner) and cannot be used to bridge the gap in funding from the preferred bidder.
• Meetings with the preferred bidder are now weekly in a bid to close the sale.
• Bishop International LTD has stated to BG that they will reveal their identity over the course of time (no specific date).
• Kevin Heaney is the main point of contact for Bishop International LTD
• BG has also met two Irish advisors / representatives from Bishop International LTD
• BG reported that Kevin Heaney has been anxious to get the sale and purchase agreement signed and to move things forward.
The issue of supporters being negative over the sale and purchase agreement was raised. David Hinchcliffe stated that he felt supporters should be positive about the sale. A very heated exchange ensued. After a period of time order was restored to the meeting.
As an aside from the minutes the above exchange without doubt helped with the rest of the meeting. It was clear that the passion displayed by the supporters representatives left BG, PR and DH in no doubt of our commitment to save the club but that does not mean that we are complicit in everything that is going on.
Peter Ridsdale made a passionate plea to urge supporters to buy season tickets and gave assurances again that this money would only be used by the new club and not to fund the ongoing sale and purchase of the club.
The proof of funds by the current PB was questioned. BG replied stating that the solicitors letter received confirming proof of funds was in line with standard practices.
DL raised on behalf of supporters the issue of ex-directors benefiting (via avoiding personal guarantees being called in) from Lombard receiving a high % of their monies from the preferred bidder. BG replied stating that the nature of these negotiations were in confidence and matter for Lombard and the PB.
BG acknowledged that the sum of money from the preferred bidder fell short of being enough to pay everybody and to meet all the requirements. The 3 key stakeholders in this process are
1. The secure creditors
2. The Football creditors
3. The ongoing trading loss for the first year (which is a constantly moving sum based on some players possibly leaving the club and this lifting the contractual obligations.
BG confirmed that the staff will be paid in full. The period of time will be dependent on the overall sum of money available for the football creditors. He agreed to take onboard our recommendation to adopt a form of “progressive taxation” where the staff get all their money and maybe some of the higher earners (top earning players) are asked to accept theirs over time.
CW raised the issue of duel ownership and KH. PR replied stating that KH would be the landlord but would have no impact on the Football Club going forward for the following reasons
1. All monies from Kevin Heaney / the preferred bidder would be handed to the Club on day 1 of the sale thus in PRs view ending their involvement.
2. Despite being the prospective landlord of Argyle the terms of the lease would be agreed up front and not up for any future influence from KH. PR is looking for a minimum lease period of 25 years. The rent would only change based on what league we are in. I.e. set rates for League 2, League 1 and the Championship. It was also confirmed that the rental rates agreed for League 1 and 2 were lower than the previous mortgage payments to Lombard and even the previous rental payments to the City Council when the Ground was owned by them
CW/DL/IN/MR all put forward that the proceeds of the friendly match against Bristol City be put towards a hardship fund for the Argyle Staff. This idea was warmly received by PR and BG will check with the PFA (to see if they are OK with money coming in going directly to staff and not shared with players) before giving us an answer.
PR also agreed to ask Kevin Heaney to hand over Truro City’s share of the gate receipts for the forthcoming friendly to the staff fund.
PR confirmed that the ambition was to match the level of last year’s season ticket sales (5500). All supporters representatives made it clear that this would be very difficult and that fans’ needed to see more openness before hard earned cash was handed over.
A series of Questions were then put forward by the supporters representatives
1. Are we still in the period of exclusivity? BG No this has fallen away and we are now in the final sale and purchase period.
2. Who signed the sale and purchase agreement for Bishop International Ltd and what authority did they have? BG A nominated Gibraltar based individual had signed the document with the full authority of Bishop International LTD.
3. Where did the money from the recent sale of the 2 youth players go? BG to pay the addition 20% of June’s wages that was given to players/staff.
4. Are any further payments due between now and completion? No full payment will be made upon completion of the sale.
5. If the Football League refuse to transfer the share will you move to other bidders? BG We are confident that they will transfer the share. In the event that the sale did not come through we would look at other options but things would be very, very difficult at this late stage. BG stated that he felt the current bid was the only viable option
6. What is the financial gap between what the PB is offering and what the club needs? BG This amount is fluctuating daily – mainly based on wages owned adding to the debt and player sales (removal of their wage commitment) lessoning the debt.
7. How much in total has been paid over in full by the PBs? BG - £300k in total
8. The last time we met BG stated that Kevin Heaney would be “unacceptable” to him and the Football League. What has changed? BG stated that Mr Heaney would be unacceptable if he was to have a role in the club day to day but not as a landlord / developer.
9. CW made the point that involvement of the Green Taverners and Supporters groups in events such as Fans Fests had to continue as a show of commitment to working together. Peter Ridsdale agreed to meet with the GTs to discuss this.
BG confirmed that he was meeting Kevin Heaney tonight in order to push the sale on at pace.
Peter Ridsdale confirmed that he would be pushing season ticket sales on from tomorrow.
It was agreed to meet again next week and every week until the situation is resolved.
Meeting closed at 1745.
As a general note / view a fair description of the meeting would be to say that it was very heated to start with. My own personal feeling is that this really helped because we were able to reflect in no uncertain terms the worries and anxieties of Argyle supporters.
In return equal passion was shown by PR to save the club. It is clear that PR wants to push hard on season ticket sales.
The meeting ended in a more upbeat tone. The true test will now be in the preferred bidder providing the cash to conclude the deal. We will of course keep the pressure on at all times as we move forward. Another day in the life of an Argyle Supporter.
Argyle Fans’ Trust