Fan’s View 2017/18 (no.21) Plymouth away

Article by Paul Beasley

Plymouth Argyle finances and ownership

The immediate parent company of Plymouth Argyle Football Club Limited is Akkeron Leisure Limited with the ultimate parent company being Natatomisam Limited. The owners of Natatomisam are James and Nicola Brent.

James Brent, a former banker, had not been to a football match for over 20 years but was persuaded to advise the club when they were on the brink of administration. When no buyer could be found he ended up saving them from going the way of the do-do and took over in 2011 following agreement with the administrators over fees.

To year end December 2016 the football club were permitted to file small company “Filleted Financial Statements”. It may sound a bit fishy but the Companies Act has been revised as a result of the adoption of the EU Accounting Directive into UK legislation for accounting periods beginning on or after 1 Jan 2016. The registrar thus receives just the balance sheet and related notes not the profit and loss account. Ascertaining the wage bill from the accounts is therefore impossible. It was of course spending such a huge chunk of turnover on wages that got them into such a financial mess in the first place. As a Championship club in 2008-09 they spent 87.2% (£7.5m) on wages.

The latest accounts show:

Creditors due within a year, £1.9m. (This includes an amount of £710k in respect of deferred season ticket, sponsorship, and box hire income received. I don’t get that at all.)

Fixed assets of £3.6m with a roughly even split between tangible and intangible assets. The former is freehold property and the latter includes “the element of a player’s transfer fee which relates to his registration plus associated costs which is written off over the length of the contract.”

Creditors due after a year, £748k

Net assets stood at £1.9m. Called up share capital is £5.6m and the P&L account figure – £3.9m. The previous year these two figures were £1.2m and – £4.1m loss was slightly higher which indicates a profit of £250k was made on the year.

Akkeron had £1m on their balance sheet at the end of the accounting period. These accounts also show under investment “Aggregate capital and reserves – Plymouth Argyle Football Club”  £1.9m and the profit for the year of £250k.

Natatomisam is where the big money is (or isn’t).

In December 2016 the Regional Employment Bulletin for South West & South Wales listed Natatomisam as the fastest growing company in Plymouth saying they were involved in investment and property.

In 2016 turnover was £44m, cost of sales £27m, operating expenses £17.5m, loss before tax £375k and total equity shareholders’ funds £4.1m.

As ever I’ll add the caveat that whilst looking at such an array of figures it all gets a bit boggling so please don’t take them as gospel.

One last thing that needs to be included here is the toing and froing of the ownership of Home Park.

The club bought the ground from the council for £2.7m in 2006.

It was sold back to the council for £1.6m in 2011 as part of a deal that saw Brent take the club out of administration. That agreement had a provision to buy it back after five years. Rent was £135k per annum.

On 31 October 2016 the stadium was once more owned by PAFC or more to the point owned by the owners of PAFC.

I don’t know the cost of this last transaction but one thing that strikes me is the difference in sums here compared to those discussed where the Kassam Stadium is concerned and how we are at what seems to be quite some disadvantage.

Plymouth Argyle 0 Oxford United 4


Bring back terracing?

There’s little doubt that Argyle supporters considered the key moment to be the awarding of a penalty against their side and the dismissal of Ryan Edwards on 14 minutes. Obviously we’ll never know what would have happened if the penalty had not been given or it had been but Edwards was allowed to remain on the field.

The International Football Association Board (IFAB) changed the laws of the game from the start of the previous season removing the ‘triple-punishment’ rule where a player who denied a goal-scoring opportunity was automatically red-carded and handed a suspension, as well as giving away a penalty. Players committing accidental fouls that deny a goal-scoring opportunity, are not automatically sent off, but are cautioned instead. Players are still sent off for holding, pulling or pushing, not playing the ball or having no possibility to play the ball, serious foul play, violent conduct or deliberate handball.

Referee Graham Horwood knows what he saw, or thinks he saw. Our Plymouth contact Wozzer saw it at worst as 50:50 with Wes Thomas going down like a sack of spuds. After the game we got invited into the Tribute Legends Lounge where I overheard a couple of official looking guys discussing the incident. One said it should never have been a penalty and a goal but then added that from then on Argyle were more intent on playing the referee than the game and blaming him for everything.

Being so far away on the day I was no way in a position to give an informed view and that’s what I said whilst still on Green territory.

There were a couple of things that really pleased me about the build up to that point. John Mousinho, having received the ball just outside our penalty area, was able to proceed unimpeded 15-20 yards before hitting a very long ball over the top of the Plymouth back line. I love a decent long ball thrown in occasionally to go with our shorter passing possession game. It gives the opposition much more to think about. We also saw another example of the superbly timed runs Thomas makes. It does my head in that we’ve got some fans who think he’s “shit”.

With the help of having seen the slow motion replay more than once, I’d convinced myself that a spot kick was after all the correct decision with Edwards putting his left arm across Thomas who had taken the ball down with the outside of his right foot to get a shot away. Mrs FV then pointed out that Wes had his arm out too.

Once given, the worry is that the penalty will be missed, giving the 10 men a massive fillip.  It wasn’t, with Ryan Ledson putting it clinically away to the right of keeper Remi Matthews who opted to go the other way.

Up to us taking the lead it had been fairly even and afterwards for the remainder of the half there was no evidence on display that we were a man to the good. We didn’t really go for them to press our advantage home but just continued to play our passing game. A game that had brought four straight defeats and no win in seven in any competition.  But hey, Pep knows a game is 90 minutes long and a team without the ball, particularly with 10 men, will tire.

With nearly half an hour on the clock we got away with one. Argyle had a free kick centrally in the D which Graham Carey hit against the post, the ball then coming off the diving Simon Eastwood’s back and out for a corner. That said, things were going for us and not Argyle.

At the time I thought that was definitely a free kick but having seen it again I’d say at least as questionable as our penalty. Josh Ruffels, the culprit, looked a little baffled. Obviously the home fans yelled for this one and almost everything even when we thought we had nailed on decisions about to go our way. I have to say that after the penalty I thought Horwood gave us next to nothing. One example being a corner instead of free-kick being awarded when Ricardinho was shielding the ball near the corner flag only to have an opponent slide right through the back of him getting the man way before the ball. There were plenty of other examples too. The stats have a foul count of 15-4 showing us as the sinners. No way is that a fair reflection of what went on.

Our second goal came seven minutes into the second period but we’d had another scare before then when we went to sleep at a free kick, allowing Jake Jervis the chance to show that he’s not currently on very good goal scoring form.

Dwight Tiendalli, another who has been slagged off, played a ball through to the unmarked Jack Payne who, after driving forward, played a pass to Joe Rothwell. A feint or two later he’d forced a save from Matthews and from a very tight angle Thomas showed his goal scorer’s instincts. From where I was stood it was difficult to see how he managed to get the ball into the net.

By now we were becoming utterly dominant. Every yellow shirt seemed able to get past green shirts, there was space, options a plenty, great understanding and classy flicks coming off.

In truth we should have had more than the additional couple of goals that followed. Thomas blasted over when he’d worked a good position and had hit the post before he registered. That chance had been created by an excellent ball from Payne and Thomas again running through a gap in the Argyle rear guard. He’s no Beano when it comes to this art. A top flight player would probably have scored though.

I think it is nonsense when a player is described as being unplayable but Jack Payne was getting close to that. He had a huge influence on the match.

Payne and Thomas were both involved in setting James Henry up for a curling effort from distance that saw us hitting the frame of the goal for the second time before the third came.

Henry was the scorer from a tight angle in a similar position to Thomas’s. After playing an accurate pass to Thomas, Tiendalli continued his run.  Thomas laid a first time pass to Ledson (possibly Rothwell) and a first time stabbed ball forward with the outside of the right boot saw possession back with Tiendalli. The Dutchman held the ball up well before putting it into Henry’s path.

By now the game was obviously over but there was still 20 plus minutes to go and in that time we got another. We had a Brazilian / Spanish link up down the left where Ricardhino demonstrated his dribbling skills and Xemi that he can execute a pull back into an on rushing team-mate’s path. John Obika’s finish was far from perfect but they all count. He was so close to goal he could hardly miss but it was his right foot he scored with when it was his left he tried to do so with.

I’ve not looked, but I assume the Pep outers have gone a bit quiet after this. They might resurface after the next game because Blackburn will provide much sterner opponents. Plymouth may have been unbeaten in the previous six but they’re still second bottom with 12 fewer points than us. It is worth pointing out though that Shrewsbury couldn’t win at Home Park and the Pilgrims have drawn at Blackburn and the previous Saturday beat Bradford at Valley Parade.

We’ve now won more games away than at the Kassam and no L1 team has scored more league goals than us.  I find the latter hard to believe but some teams do have games in hand on us and that indicates our 7th place in the table is a little flattering.

As much as scoring goals wins games, keeping clean sheets wins points too and this was the first time we managed that since Bristol Rovers away on 14 October. Whilst never thinking we were really as poor in this area as recent outcomes had suggested, I’m not going to get carried away after this and say we’ve totally cracked it. Mousinho has real quality but when it’s down to pace alone we’re in a bit of trouble. Although Aaron Martin is no youngster he’s certainly the youngster in the partnership but that does not stop him giving the captain some verbals if he thinks the wrong option has been taken. That was pleasing, as was Mousinho acknowledging when he was to blame.

As well as the result and ultimately the performance there’s other things to take from this Devonian visit. As is the norm on these trips we went into the Green Taverners Fan Fest beforehand. It’s got a bit smarter with a proper ceiling and inside toilets and due to family matters Rick O’Shay was without Dave Banana but essentially it was the same with away fans made most welcome. One other change is that there are television screens on the wall and with the sound down Arsenal v Spurs was being screened. When the first Gunners goal went in one Argyle fan began cheering and celebrating way too enthusiastically for what one can only assume was his second team doing rather well. The correct response was a hearty rendering of boos towards the man. I joined in that but not the loud chorus of “You’re supposed to be a green” that followed.

I was also impressed with the reception the home supporters gave Curtis Nelson when our captain, on crutches, was introduced to the crowd before kick-off.

cn crutches