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Q&A With James Brent and the Directors - The answers! Part 2

Posted: 12:04 05 Apr 2012
by PL2 3DQ
The answers also appear on the club official website.

http://www.pafc.co.uk/page/NewsDetail/0 ... 36,00.html
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http://www.pafc.co.uk/page/NewsDetail/0 ... 46,00.html
http://www.pafc.co.uk/page/NewsDetail/0 ... 48,00.html

MISCELLANEOUS

When you read/hear about negative things said about you on sites such as PASOTI do you think was it really worth it?
Lee Jameson

A: On the rare occasion, yes - but I quickly get over it! I am convinced that the aspirations of the vast majority fans are closely aligned with the Board’s and my own, i.e. to see a thriving, sustainable and successful football club acting with integrity and with respect for all. I have learned late in life that football drives huge emotional swings and I respect this. There are clearly a handful of individuals who claim to be supporters but seem to support nothing about the club: either they merely enjoy a good moan about everything (in which case good luck to them) or they support a competitor club (in which case...!)

How would you appraise your brief tenure at Plymouth Argyle so far? Do you feel that you have delivered (to date) what you realistically thought was possible when the takeover was completed? What are the aspirations and objectives here at Argyle?
Adam Runnalls. Joeseph Bell

A: It has been a very steep learning curve and I (and the Board) will no doubt have made some mistakes. Please ask me again at the end of the season for a view on the footballing side. On the financial side, we will end the year very close to where we expected but with some big swings and roundabouts (i.e. we had some luck as well as judgement). Looking forward, I am more positive now than I have ever been that Argyle is a wonderful club with great potential. The Board and I look forward to playing our part in developing this potential.

I have a friend who is a Palace supporter (foolish man!). Apparently on their fans’ web-site there is a section in which the present owners regularly answer questions. Is this something that is possible here?
Knecht

A: I hope that our engagement with fans will be second to none. Our primary interaction between the club and our fans will continue to be via the official website. Regular meetings between the GASB and the statutory Board will provide a formal framework for raising concerns and ideas, while ad hoc sessions like this, meetings with the Senior Greens and at the Guildhall will provide further access and challenge. I hope that your Palace friend will look at what we are doing in six months time and advise the owners of CP to take note!

Marketing - What strategies are the Board aiming to implement to try to attract the people who used to attend but have drifted away during the recent decline?
Community links - We have heard that the football club is/should be an important part of the city. How does the Board see this link developing from the position we are currently in?

CheshireGreen

A: We all know that Rome was not built in a day. Our club has clearly been through a torrid time over a number of years and this will take time to address. I am a great believer that you get the ‘product’ right and then sell it. This said, we have an exciting story of how we will rebuild our club as a thriving, sustainable and successful football club acting with integrity and with respect for all, and Peter Jones is leading a team focused on branding and marketing.
I have been impressed by how much our colleagues in the Argyle Community Trust are doing. We need to continue to publicise their endeavours (I had not fully appreciated them) and support their development alongside that of the club. A couple of specific initiatives will be announced shortly.

Q: I would like to compare Argyle to what I see in Ottawa sports teams.
1 Food and drink are taken care of by companies who pay the team for the privilege of selling their wares, we have pizza/burger/donut outlets all of these are established franchised outlets. I’m sure you could set up the same thing inside of Home Park. Maybe have some of those food establishments that I see outside of HP inside, do not give all the catering to one company.
2 Ticketing here we have full-season, half-season and mini-season tickets. Mini season tickets are usually five or ten game packages, one of the reasons for this is for instance the NHL season has 42 home games and can get very expensive, even so in a 20,000-seat stadium, more than half the seats are with season-ticket holders.
3 Have lots of interaction with the players and fans, have meet the player days, open training sessions, visit schools, have pub quiz nights, travel with the players to away games.
4 Free giveaways to fans, such as at games give away t-shirts.
5 Promotion of the club is the most important thing to do. Every single day in the local papers there are at least three or four articles on about the players, at least 1/2 advertising pieces about up-coming games or various promotions about the team and players.
6 The key thing is to make going to Home Park an entertaining event, provide good food and beverages, good facilities and good entertainment, do that and not many will complain.
Most sporting facilities over here have restaurants, bars and entertainment for before and after the games, the Fans Fests sound like this is the start but you need more of this and bigger facilities
I think you need to come over to North America and see how teams over here promote themselves.

Ottawa Green

A: I totally agree with the principle you are espousing. We are already doing/looking to do some of the things you suggest and will look into the others. The biggest change will clearly come with the physical change of the stadium in the development of a new grandstand. To inform us of what is ‘best in class’, we are looking at facilities provided by sporting clubs, both football and other. The Board has the benefit of counsel from Richard Holliday who, as Global Head of Sports Finance at RBS, has experience of leading facilities both in the UK and overseas, most notably in North America. We will give some thought to a North American visit.

Are there any plans to start up an official Argyle Junior Greens club, to include entering teams to play in the Devon Junior & Minor?
Mike

A: No. We already have teams from Under-18s down to Under-9s playing competitive matches as part of the Football league Centre of Excellence Games Programme. In addition, the Youth and Community Departments arrange a regular programme of friendly matches at younger age levels.

Are there any plans for a Memorial Garden at Home Park?
Havnmysay

A: Yes. We propose to include the Garden as part of the Grandstand and surrounding development.

Will Plymouth Argyle be able to have a presence in the city centre again, where obtaining match-day tickets and merchandise will be more accessible for supporters/attracting new ‘customers’ to come to a match?
Sue Pollard

A: Saltrock has agreed in principle that Plymouth Argyle tickets can be bought from the shop in Drake’s Circus; a further announcement will follow. Unfortunately, our retail colleagues do not believe that selling Argyle and Saltrock goods from the store will work.

Q:The fans who do not come any more (at present) and to our community as a whole, would it be worth putting together a questionnaire (placed on the internet/local papers/handed out in the city centre/handed out to school pupils to take home to their parents and so on) to gather information on what would encourage them to come for the first time/come back to Argyle?
I know the obvious answer to the above, is seeing a team who is doing well and climbing the league and the cost of season tickets/potd prices, but other than this, these very people may have opinions and ideas WE are not thinking about ourselves, that could make a difference as to what can be done in future to build Plymouth Argyle on the up again and make a match-day experience something that is worth coming to/back to.

During the close of season, a time in which I normally loath waiting for the new season to arrive, can we as supporters (and whoever wants to/has the time for this) and the club itself, do anything to help promote Argyle during this time?

An idea of which is maybe too late for this year (which may sound a bit daft ... or is it?) but could we use such things as the Lord Mayor’s Day to promote Argyle by having the clubs’ presence in the parade?

Argyle needs to be seen in as many ways as is possible...so Pilgrim Pete, waving Argyle flags, having a few members of the team/or kids who play football around the city/Argyle’s Semper Fidelis being played/football chants being sung/handing out leaflets and so on would be another way of hopefully getting people interested to come along to Argyle.

Sue Pollard

A: I think these are all good ideas and we will feed them into the branding/marketing review being led by Peter Jones.

Prior to the Administration process decimating our club, the club had a presence in the city centre. This helped to keep Argyle in the minds of shoppers using the Mall. As one of your companies (Saltrock) has a presence in the Mall would it be possible to have a small presence within that shop? Shoppers would then be able to buy match tickets and other items on the spur of the moment.
Mike Greening

A: Saltrock has agreed in principle that Plymouth Argyle Football Club tickets can be bought from the shop in Drake’s Circus; a further announcement will follow. Unfortunately, our retail colleagues do not believe that selling Argyle and Saltrock goods from the store will work.

While thanking the current sponsors, would there be an opportunity for Saltrock to sponsor shirts in the future and produce merchandise that could then be retailed through Saltrock outlets (quantities depending on location) and providing the opportunity for a much larger income stream?
Pastiesforlife

A: We have minority investors in Saltrock so it is particularly important that the independent board members of that company take decisions relating e.g. to sponsorship of Argyle and that Martin Baker and I recuse ourselves from any such decisions. This said, our colleagues at Saltrock have been providing (and I am sure will continue to provide) retail guidance to Plymouth Argyle Football Club.

If you are so keen on transparency, clarity, and fan interaction why don’t you join the message boards of PASOTI or the Fans Trust forum (when it goes live). You could post as James Brent, answer people’s questions and clarify and correct wrongful assumptions that are posted by fans?
Lawn Mower Man.

A: As previously stated, I hope that our engagement with fans will be second to none. Our primary interaction between the club and our fans will continue to be via the official website. Regular meetings between the GASB and the statutory Board will provide a formal framework for raising concerns and ideas, while ad hoc sessions like this, meetings with the Senior Greens and at the Guildhall will provide further access and challenge.

Could the club bring in more stock of the 125 year celebratory home shirt, especially in the popular sizes of Large and above?
Keepitgreen. Paul Hatrey.

A: Unfortunately, Puma have been cleaned out of the 125 home shirt and are unable to supply any more. Administration meant we were obliged to use an off-the-shelf design, and the shelves have simply been emptied. However, we have just taken delivery of some very smart casual sports tops which replicate the design of the first shirt that we ever played in, 125 years ago.

I am just interested to know what has been the “best” part of the Plymouth Argyle experience for you so far?
Frazer

A: Winning a match and seeing the elation amongst the Green Army.

What has excited you, engaged you and caught your eye as it were, and what you are most looking forward to in the future?
Frazer

A: The passion amongst all (the Green Army, staff and players) to survive, retain League status and develop the club. I am most looking forward to working with colleagues to develop our club and prove that a thriving, sustainable and successful football club acting with integrity and with respect for all provides a good club for future generations of Greens.

Do you feel the need to appoint some locally based board members? (It occurs to me that the current board consists of non-locally based people). In any event, do you have plans to appoint more board members in the near future?
Gaspargomez

A: The Board may decide to appoint one further member. We have tried to select Directors who as a collective provide most benefit to the club and I am confident we have got this right. My home is in Devon, and Peter Jones and David Felwick have homes in Devon and Cornwall respectively; Martin Baker claims his home is in the Midlands but spends six days a week in Devon.

Do you have plans to sell a share of the club to board members in the future?
Gaspargomez

A: Other than the recent issue of convertible securities (to which Richard Holliday subscribed) there are no current plans

What is the timetable for appointing a new Chief Executive (or Football Administrator) to permanently replace Peter Ridsdale?
Gaspargomez

A: Jason Turner is doing an excellent job as our General Manager and Club Secretary; we need no further help here. Martin has been Acting CEO and the Board will review this with him at the end of the season: without prejudging this review, he has also made a great contribution to our club so far.

More communications please, off field rather than on.
John Cooper

A: We are trying hard but will no doubt continue to improve.

More ticketing news for away matches, especially where ticketing is limited.
John Cooper

A: As soon as we receive ticketing details, on home or away matches, they are posted on the website - in three separate areas – and, if appropriate, press released.

Given your recent experience as the Chair of the Plymouth City Development Company and your upcoming role as Chair of the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, you will undoubtedly have given a lot of thought to the added difficulties that come from running an organisation with a high public profile and managing expectations of meaningful progress, while under intense scrutiny. Of the three roles, which would you say is likely to be the toughest task?
John Lloyd

A: I think they all have had/will have very different challenges. RD&E has been very well run but is facing a tough and changing environment in healthcare; immediately prior to Administration, Plymouth Argyle Football Club was not well-managed and it is operating in a tough ‘industry’. In both cases, when times are good, success will be achieved in spite of the Chairman; when things go wrong it will no doubt be the Chairman’s fault. Notwithstanding this, I volunteered for each job and I am excited by them!

Has the club President been appointed into his role on a permanent basis or is it for a fixed period of time?
Gaspargomez

A: There is no fixed term.

Should the President role have a maximum tenure, or should there be a process by which different individuals might be considered for the role in forthcoming years?
Gaspargomez

A: The position will be kept under review by the Board. In my view, Chris Webb is doing a very good job and the club is fortunate to have his help.

QUESTION TO RICHARD HOLLIDAY:

Your expertise is in sports finance (I assume amongst others) - is your expected contribution to be in terms of funding for physical infrastructure or do you have a wider brief?
Knecht

A: I will help to determine aspects such as the timing, scope and specification of additional infrastructure as well as its funding.

QUESTION TO DAVID FELWICK

Your background is in the retail industry. How far do you think the “customer” model will transfer to the more traditional “fan” model associated with football?
Knecht

A: In my eyes, and those of the Board, our “fans” are our “customers” although many football clubs do not seem to understand this principle and fail to provide a value for money experience. Our aim, through consultation and implementation, is to progressively address the legitimate criticisms and weaknesses PASOTI and other fans have identified to build, not only a successful football club, but one that also satisfies the ambitions and wishes of its supporters and local community at all levels.

QUESTIONS TO PETER JONES

Unless I am very much mistaken, yourself and Jason Turner are the only two board members who have experience of working at a football club prior to Plymouth Argyle. Does this lack of football men on the board room (and presumably making the majority of the football decisions) concern you at all, and is it something that you are looking to address?
Sam Down.

A: Sam, I’m not concerned about that. Beyond Jason, there are plenty of other people working at the club who are well versed in the football industry. Indeed, I’m pleased that there is now high-level experience from other sectors at the club’s disposal. Football does tend to operate in something of a bubble, and can definitely benefit from learning from the ways other successful organisations go about their business.

Peter, I think you are heading up the working party to look at the price of season tickets. Many years ago one of the benefits of being a season-ticket holder was being put in the draw for the FA Cup Final tickets that were allocated to the club can that be re-introduced, and are there any normal fans on the working party?
Mike

A: We’re pretty much ready to go with the structure of our new season-ticket offer now. Yes, the concept has been exposed to a number of “normal” fans, as you put it. The Cup Final ticket draw could possibly be resurrected at a later stage, but, thus far, we have focused our efforts on benefits that revolve around the HP match experience.

Q: In your first spell as director, Peter, you advocated an approach which prioritised development of, and investment in, the first-team playing squad. Whether previous directors really ever ‘went for it’ is another conversation, but significant money was undoubtedly chucked at new players, through both transfer fees and wages.

Yet, for a number of reasons, more arrivals than not failed to justify the investment that the club made in them. I’d argue that this was largely down to a lack of an overarching football philosophy and recruitment strategy. Indeed, over the years, we’ve seen plenty of managers come and go, each bringing with them a different idea about how to play the game and a long list of new players that fit their plans: Paul Sturrock (direct); Bobby Williamson (who knows, but less direct); Tony Pulis (very direct); Ian Holloway (gung-ho); Paul Sturrock; Paul Mariner (less direct); Peter Reid (patient) and Carl Fletcher (who knows, but less direct).

Meanwhile, modestly-sized clubs such as Swansea, Reading, Watford, Stevenage, Exeter and (until recently) Doncaster have made leaps by opting for a particular style and selecting managers, and by implication players, based on this approach. The Swans are the perfect example and some of the players that are doing so well for them this season were present back in their lower league days.

In my eyes, it is the continuity and a slow and patient development of momentum which has more often than not resulted in the success at many of these clubs. My question, then, is whether the new board are prepared to put together a similar blueprint to the aforementioned clubs and establish a particular style and approach that PAFC will, over the years, become known for?

Lloyd Langman

A: Agreed – what you outline is a great aspiration. Continuity and patience are both values that can only be beneficial as the club sets out to climb back up the leagues.

QUESTIONS RELATING TO THE CLUB STATEMENT ON INVESTMENT AND LAND SALE AT HOME PARK

What will be the crowd capacity of the new grandstand?

A: This has not been fixed but the capacity of Home Park is expected to be circa 20,000 with the ability to add further capacity as we hopefully improve our league position and attract both existing and new fans to visit Home Park.

When will the new grandstand be built?

A: No timeline has been fixed, but we hope to move forward with it promptly.

Will the new grandstand incorporate other leisure facilities?

A: It is anticipated that it will include (club) offices, food and beverage and banqueting and conferencing facilities. The design is at an early stage.

How will the £700,000 be spent?

A: To meet trading losses (in line with the original budget) and fund football operations going forward. It will explicitly not be used to fund planning-related costs in relation to the new stadium.

If this is unbudgeted income, will 50% go towards accelerating the payments to the staff?

A: The original deal with the Football League allowed the club to raise money to fund its operations and this is not unbudgeted revenue. There are, however, other unbudgeted revenues of which 50% will go to the staff and players fund.

What will be built or developed on the land?

A: No planning application has been made but it is expected to be in line with the Area Action Plan for Central Park which limits the development to sporting and leisure-elated and ancillary activities (e.g. sports/leisure retail; food and beverage; hotel).

Apart from the initial £700,000 payout, will the football club benefit from any developments built on the land?

A: Yes, the club will receive a new grandstand delivered without cost (as well as improving the match-day experience, this should also deliver additional match-day and non match-day income to support the football operation) or, failing this, will share in the profits.

Is there a time-scale envisaged regarding any future development and will this encompass sports facilities that are not provided by the Life Centre?
Mike Greening

A: No timetable has been set, but we are keen to move forward as soon as practicable. We are contemplating additional sporting and leisure uses.

What will be the capacity of the new grandstand? What would your ideal total capacity for Home Park be? If it’s lower than 25,000 are there plans to increase the capacity to this figure or further if demand requires?
Long Old Poke; Esmer; Pafcintheplace; Tony Cholwell

A: This has not been fixed. The capacity of Home Park is expected to be circa 20,000 but designed in such a way that we can add further capacity as we improve our league position and attract new fans.

On a personal note, I have to say I am sad to see the “car-park” and ground being separated in this way. Whilst appreciating you could have transferred the land for less than paid the ability of Argyle as a club to generate income from developing that site is now gone forever and probably with it any hope Argyle had of sustaining a CCC club, let alone one in the Premiership.
Tony Cholwell

A: On this rare occasion, I need to beg to differ, Mr Cholwell! In my view, the development can only be delivered in the current (and I expect foreseeable future) economic environment, if it is legally separated from the football club. Funding partners are cautious about investing in a football club for reasons that are well understood. The structure of the proposed development is designed to take risk and cost away from the club and deliver it a new grandstand without cost. As well as improving the match-day experience, this should also deliver additional match-day and non match-day income to support the football operation. In the hopefully remote event that we do not develop a new grandstand, the club will share in the profits. Based on our numbers, the club can operate as a sustainable Championship club...and who knows about the Premiership?

Has the design of the new stand been decided upon? Will it enable the club to become a 7 day a week operation?
Esmer; Babararacucudada

A: The design has not been agreed, but we do expect it to operate on non-match-days (possibly seven days a week).

Will the money from the land and share sale be used to pay some of the football club debt?
What is going to happen to the £700k Argyle gets for selling the adjacent land?

Esmer; Babararacucudada

A: To clarify, £425k came from the sale of the land; and about £275k from the issue of new convertible securities. The proceeds will be used to meet trading losses (in line with the original budget) and to fund football operations going forward. It will explicitly not be used to fund planning-related costs in relation to the new stadium.

You have previously stated that 50% of all unbudgeted income will go towards accelerating the staff payments and we are now being told that this £700,000 is unbudgeted income. Does this mean that £350,000 will be paying off debt owed to the staff?
Damon Lenszer

A: The original deal with the League allowed the club to raise money to fund its operations and this is not unbudgeted revenue. There are, however, other unbudgeted revenues that to go to the staff and players fund.

Could you please provide us with an update to the staff pay deficit in relation to this news (i.e. how much has been or is being paid back to them and how the terms of repayment may have reduced in terms of years) as this money exceeds the amount that was budgeted?
Lee Phipps

A: 50% of non-budgeted income is to be distributed to current and previous players/staff on a quarterly basis.

“Non-Budgeted Income” comprises:
non-budgeted increases in the pool account payments from the Football League and/or the Premier League;
any increase in solidarity payments made by the Premier League;
any additional net incomes made by non-budgeted cup matches;
any non-budgeted player sales (including any sell-ons that fall due during the five-year period);
any net play off monies; any promotion monies and any additional net sponsorship monies).

To date, the club has received £98,970 of unbudgeted income, of which 50% will be paid as per above. The land transfer and the convertible cash injection announced recently do not fall into the non-budgeted income definition and therefore would not accelerate any of the staff payments.

Q: Will the grandstand when built have extended facilities beyond seats to watch the game in and will it be very profitable in its own right? This may seem cynical and is not at all a slight on you personally, for whom I have the utmost respect and admiration, but it could be seen as if the grandstand is competing with the land owned by your company as has been announced today. Apologies if this sounds overtly suspicious or paranoid which is not the intention, but can you provide any of us wondering with your assurance that a percentage of the profitable facilities will be placed on PAFC’s land and not just on yours that has just been purchased?
Sam Down

A: This seems a fair and reasonable question to me. The design is at an early stage but it is anticipated that the club will have food and beverage and conferencing and banqueting facilities. It is anticipated that the food and beverage offering will compete with other food and beverage offerings at Home Park. No competing conferencing and banqueting facilities are contemplated at Home Park. The Exeter Chiefs alleged experience at Sandy Park augurs well for the Grandstand. I would point out that my wife and I beneficially own 84% of the club and 82.5% of the development land, so the fear of bias against the club and in favour of the development land is probably not correct.

Other than short-term revenue, what are the benefits to the club of selling off land located in such a prime location to take advantage of development around the stadium and life centre?
John H

A: In addition to extracting full market value for the land (reflecting the development potential under the AAP), to enable a new grandstand to be built without cost or risk to the club - with additional facilities to generate incremental revenues (on match-days and other days).


Before this avenue was chosen, did the club consider all other options (e.g. going into partnership with a specialised development partner) so that the club could benefit from future profits?
John H

A: The club will benefit from future profits. The transaction was executed at valuation and (in addition) the club receives a new grandstand or 50% of the profits. I genuinely do not think an external investor would have seen these terms as fair to them.

Is the James Brent Pension fund going to be the source of development capital as well? What other sources were considered?
John H

A: It is likely that the new landowner (82.5% owned by my SIPP) will work with a major property investor to deliver the scheme. Discussions have been held but the final structure and partner are still to be agreed.

From a club perspective, was there any kind of competitive process or due diligence weighing up other offers before deciding that the James Brent pension fund offered the best value? If not, how can we be assured that this offer represents best value for the club?
John H

A: Please see above. Please note that, before the transaction took place, my wife and I indirectly owned 100% of the club and I now indirectly own 82.5% of the demerged property and, upon conversion of the securities, 84% of the club. Although it was appropriate for the independent directors to review, there was not a motivation to value shift away from the club when I have a higher percentage ownership of this.

Is the club short of funds and if so what other options were considered prior to selling off prime assets?
John H

A: As anticipated at the date of acquisition and underwritten by one of my companies, the club needed to raise funds to meet the (budgeted) shortfall for this year and next. I believe (and the independent directors agreed) that this is the best solution for the club.

Does this mean that the land assets sold are no longer part of the club? If this is the case, is there any provision for the club to have these assets returned to them in the future?
John H

A: No, the club received full value on Day One and the right to benefit from a new grandstand without cost or (failing this) receive a share of the profits from the development.

What implications will the sale of this land have on the footprint for stadium development?
John H

A: None.

Is the scenario that the club faces a straight choice for the club between taking 50% of future revenue on the land and having a stand built for free?
John H

A: The hope and expectation is that the new grandstand will be delivered; the share of profit is a fall-back position if this is not feasible.

The best-case scenario for the club is that the stadium is redeveloped and, in addition, receives a proportion of the revenue generated from development its former land. As a man who has clearly stated that the club needs to be sustainable and who has its best interests at heart, is this something that you can facilitate?
John H

A: I agree: this is the plan and I hope we can. Assuming it goes to plan, the club gets a new grandstand and the revenues generated from food and banqueting and conferencing.

What development do you anticipate on the land you have acquired and what annual returns are you anticipating to deliver to the pension fund (presumably there will have been some kind of business case and due diligence put together before investing the fund’s assets)?
John H

A: The development will be in line with the Central Park Area Action Plan i.e. focused on sporting, leisure and ancillary use. The independent trustees and I (as a trustee) were willing to buy the interest at third-party valuation.

In my estimation, the focus of a pension fund is to gain maximum return on investment for its stakeholders, and the aim of a football club is to reinvest in the squad and the infrastructure in order to become as successful as possible and win stuff. Taking this as a given:

Q: How are you going to reconcile the obvious conflict of interests you have due to your interest in both of these entities when making the decision as to whether the club would be better off with a stadium or 50% profit share?
John H

A: The hope and expectation is that the new grandstand will be delivered; the share of profit is a fall-back position if this is not feasible.

How has this affected your decision making with relation to the deal for the land?
John H

A: For me, the decision was simple, the transaction (hopefully) enables a development to take place that will have huge benefit to the club and which otherwise would not have taken place. The transaction was consummated on terms approved by independent directors (for the club) and independent trustees (for the fund). I suspect few private companies demonstrate this level of governance?

How do you personally stand to financially benefit from this deal?
John H

A: My wife and I own an 84% (indirect) interest in Plymouth Argyle Football Club and I have an indirect 82.5% interest through my pension fund in the property.
With the two options of either building a new grandstand for free or Plymouth Argyle Football Club receiving 50% of the profit generated from the developments you plan to do on the car-park area, how will the final decision of which one of these options be made? And is there going to be a long or relatively short timescale to reaching this decision?

Q: The news of this sounds exciting and is very welcome in the eyes of wanting to see Plymouth Argyle move forward and prosper in future, but inevitably generates more questions from supporters who, understandably, want to know more information on what the exact proposals are for a) a new stadium and b) what you have in mind to develop on the car-park ground, to be able to ponder on what would truly benefit our club for the better, in the long run.

When we are hopefully enlightened a bit further, on the above, will the supporters be able to have a say on which option we would prefer to have happen or will the final decision actually be made solely between yourselves/the club?

Would you consider including the kind of things we would like to see within a new stadium, for example, in the design of it, to what we feel would help generate income for our club/will make coming to Home Park a better experience for all? Or do you have this totally planned out without feeling the need to add anything else?

Sue Pollard

A: The hope and expectation is that a new high quality grandstand will be built for the club; the profit-share is merely a fall-back lest this subsequently be proven not to be feasible (we hope and believe that this is unlikely to be the case). The plans are at an early stage. We have just formed a Committee of Directors, management and fans to start developing detailed thoughts. We expect to consult our fans widely and regularly.

Will the grandstand be on PCC land and belong to the football club?
Lloyd

A: It will be on PCC-owned land. PAFC will have a 30-year lease over the football-related parts and a 125-year lease over the other parts included incorporated in the grandstand.

Will be revenue generating to the extent that it could support at least a Championship level club?
Lloyd

A: We believe that with the additional revenue the club should be able to sustain itself at Championship level.

Will be physically separated from any development on the adjacent land? (Had previously expected the stand and hotel to be combined, sharing conference facilities, bars, restaurants, etc..)
Lloyd

A: There is likely to be a small part of the development that crosses the different titles.

Will be joined to the Devonport and Barn Park stands?
Lloyd

A: To be finalised in design.


Will it incorporate all of the offices, box office and shop?
Lloyd

A: Yes, that is planned, plus some food and beverage and conference and banqueting facilities.

Will it have sufficient parking for players, officials, directors, etc..?
Lloyd

A: On Higher Home Park, but not in the grandstand.

Will it be built in the close season to minimise any impact on home games?
Lloyd

A: Unfortunately, the build period for a facility of this scale cannot be built in the close season alone. The programme will, however, be structured so as to minimise disruption as far as is possible.

Also, are there plans to incorporate a memorial garden somewhere within the boundary of the club?
Lloyd

A: At Higher Home Park, yes, but not necessarily on the PCC land.

Very much hope this happens in the very near future as it could provide a tremendous boost to the team, fans and to the wider community. (There is no doubt in my mind that ‘Phase 1’ of the stadium rebuild contributed significantly to our previous rise up the leagues.)
Lloyd

A: I agree.

When you get to the point where you think it is time to sell the football club to another owner, what assets do you hope the football club will have?
Dunlop

A: There are no plans whatsoever to sell, but I would hope a thriving football club in a modern Championship/Premiership Stadium providing additional income...and with the best fans in football!

Who will own the freehold of the new grandstand (and associated developments) once it is completed?
Gaspargomez

A: Plymouth City Council will own the land on which the grandstand is built. Plymouth Argyle Football Club will have a 30-year lease over the football parts and a 125-year lease over the balance. The cost of the new development will be borne by the property owner.

If the grandstand development contains facilities that will attract non match-day income (for example conference facilities, restaurants and retail outlets) to whom will the non match-day revenue benefit? And will it directly benefit the football club company?
Gaspargomez

A: The benefit of the conferencing/banqueting facilities will fall to the club, as will the club’s shop plus some food and beverage facilities.

Will the football club’s rent increase?
Gaspargomez

A: Not in relation to the football part of the grandstand. Plymouth Argyle Football Club will pay 10% of a fair market rent of the non-football related activities to Plymouth City Council. The capital for the development will be provided by the owners of the Higher Home Park land but they will receive no rent.

In terms of planning constraints and other legally binding restrictions, is development of non-football related uses (such as a hotel on adjacent land) contingent on a new grandstand being provided at Home Park?
Gaspargomez

A: No, I do not believe so.

What is the phasing of this development likely to be (i.e. what gets built first in Central Park)? What is your target start date for construction to commence?
Gaspargomez

A: Scheduling of works has not been undertaken yet. No start date has been set but we would like to move forward sooner rather than later.

You have publicly stated that you wished to purchase the football club in order to save an important local institution. Would you also agree that another reason for wanting to purchase the football club was the opportunity to engage in property development, specifically hotel development, which might benefit you individually?
Gaspargomez

A: My initial involvement was to assure the Administrators (who were unfunded) that if another party did not buy the club, we would. This assurance was felt necessary to avoid liquidation. When our underwrite was ‘exercised’, we said that we would not be reluctant owners: we are thrilled with the club so far and we aim do the best we can with it so any future developments are of benefit to both the club and its investors.

Which do you see as more important - investment in the playing and coaching staff to improve the performances on the field or other investments that have a less direct benefit to the football side of the business?
Grovehill

A: I do not see how they are mutually exclusive: surely they complement each other? I am new to the game, but do not the most successful football clubs have good quality teams playing from high quality facilities? I think we can and should do both: why would we want any less?

Is there Plan A if we stay up and a Plan B if we go down with differing development planning?
Alexander

A: No. Plans A, B and C have always been about staying up and Plan D for relegation. If we did get relegated, we would endeavour to obtain promotion as quickly as possible and I do not think the plans would change.

Would any future investment of the club have a knock-on effect for other sports clubs within the city? Would the club offer its grounds to DJM, etc., for example, and help to inspire the youngsters who in turn may be the players of the future?
Havnmysay

Could the club also start to earn in other avenues in as such as sports therapy/physio college type learning, by teaching those youngsters who maybe cannot make the grade as players but be inspired to step into the sport in other areas?
Havnmysay

A: The Board totally buys into this general thinking whole-heartedly. We want to see Argyle at the heart of our community and working closely with partners - especially in youth - to enhance the sporting and leisure facilities in our region and enhance well-being. Clearly discussions are still at a relatively early stage, but the Board will keep you briefed on progress.

Ambitious projects such as a new grandstand don’t come cheap but I’d say that this is a club defining decision and must be done right. Can the necessary funds be raised under your ownership?
with-menace

A: I agree with your points and we believe that the funds can be raised.

End.

Re: Q&A With James Brent and the Directors - The answers! Pa

Posted: 12:25 06 Apr 2012
by Waraqah
Given your recent experience as the Chair of the Plymouth City Development Company and your upcoming role as Chair of the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, you will undoubtedly have given a lot of thought to the added difficulties that come from running an organisation with a high public profile and managing expectations of meaningful progress, while under intense scrutiny. Of the three roles, which would you say is likely to be the toughest task?
John Lloyd

A: I think they all have had/will have very different challenges. RD&E has been very well run but is facing a tough and changing environment in healthcare; immediately prior to Administration, Plymouth Argyle Football Club was not well-managed and it is operating in a tough ‘industry’. In both cases, when times are good, success will be achieved in spite of the Chairman; when things go wrong it will no doubt be the Chairman’s fault. Notwithstanding this, I volunteered for each job and I am excited by them!

James Brent - master of the epic under-statement!!!!!!!!!!!1 :lol:

But, seriously, having read through all the questions and answers, I feel that we are in good hands and I'm confident that Plymouth Argyle can look forward to a bright future - and three points today would go a long way to ensuring that we start said future in the Football League :scarf:

Re: Q&A With James Brent and the Directors - The answers! Pa

Posted: 16:27 06 Apr 2012
by gaspargomez
You have publicly stated that you wished to purchase the football club in order to save an important local institution. Would you also agree that another reason for wanting to purchase the football club was the opportunity to engage in property development, specifically hotel development, which might benefit you individually?
Gaspargomez

A: My initial involvement was to assure the Administrators (who were unfunded) that if another party did not buy the club, we would. This assurance was felt necessary to avoid liquidation. When our underwrite was ‘exercised’, we said that we would not be reluctant owners: we are thrilled with the club so far and we aim do the best we can with it so any future developments are of benefit to both the club and its investors.

In other words, no comment !! He avoided answering my question.