Gardner & Todd make Argyle offer

11 March 2011 02:21
Ex-directors Sir Roy Gardner and Keith Todd have made a formal bid to buy Plymouth Argyle out of administration.With administrator Brendan Guilfoyle setting a 14 March deadline for bids, the duo have made their offer via a new firm called Affinity Sports Finance. [LNB]Their plan is to buy Argyle's Home Park ground and lease it back to the club. [LNB]Backed by leading sports lawyer Chris Farnell, Affinity would inject £8m into the club this season, with £5m coming later to develop the Home Park site. [LNB]But this bid will not be popular with large sections of the League One club's support as Gardner and Todd presided over the Pilgrims' lurch towards insolvency, which was confirmed when Guilfoyle was appointed last week. [LNB][LNB] It looks like a done deal - we're struggling to get a look-in and it's incredibly frustrating Affinity Sports Finance insider They took control in July 2009 when they added their 13% stake in the club to the 38% owned by Japanese-based directors Yasuaki Kagami and George Synan to form a "New World" partnership. [LNB]The aim was Premier League football and a 46,000-seat stadium capable of hosting World Cup football in 2018; the reality was relegation, spiralling debts and money wasted on plans for a stadium neither the club nor the Football Association needs. [LNB]The link with Kagami and Synan was also damaging as their repeated promises of money to keep Argyle out of administration came and went without a penny arriving. And both Todd and Gardner have been criticised for focusing on redevelopment whilst the club ran up debts thought to total £13m. [LNB]That said, the pair remain well connected in financial circles in London and have been able to put together a plausible rescue package relatively quickly. They have also said they would be happy to work with the Argyle Fans' Trust in the future. [LNB]The input of Manchester-based lawyer Farnell is also significant. A Blackburn Rovers trainee before a knee injury ended his hopes of a professional career, he has been involved in some of English football's biggest recent transfers and has an impressive contacts book. [LNB]But whether he will ever get the chance to use it for Argyle's benefit is another matter. [LNB]A source connected to the Affinity bid told BBC Sport they thought Guilfoyle had already made his "preferred bidder" choice. [LNB][LNB]Reid's side have won three in a row to revive hopes of avoiding relegation"It looks like a done deal, to be honest. We're struggling to get a look-in and it's incredibly frustrating," the source said. [LNB]That deal is widely believed to involve James Brent, an investor with a background in property and hotels, and Peter Ridsdale, the controversial former Leeds United, Barnsley and Cardiff City chairman who has been advising Argyle's board since December. [LNB]Brent has close ties with Plymouth City Council following his stint as chairman of the city's development company. He also has experience of turning around failed companies, following his rescue of the Folio Hotels group in 2009. [LNB]Ridsdale, who has been running Argyle for the last three months, has a good relationship with Brent's former employers Citibank and would provide the football knowledge Brent lacks. [LNB]Guilfoyle is understood to favour this option as the council seems willing to wave through Brent's plans for the development of the Home Park site as part of its strategy to revitalise the Central Park area in which Home Park sits. This has always been a factor in Argyle's attraction to investors and could now, finally, play a key role in the club's rebirth. [LNB]As well as the confirmed bid from Affinity and Brent's reported interest, there are also thought to be a number of other potential bidders, including Kagami and Synan. [LNB]For Guilfoyle, who successfully steered Leeds United, Luton Town and Crystal Palace out of administration, the deciding factor will be financial certainty and the ability to move quickly, as the club's finances remain under enormous strain. [LNB]This fact has led him to lay off 16 non-playing staff and ask season-ticket holders to make a £10 donation for every home game they attend. This comes on top of other fund-raising initiatives which include manager Peter Reid's offer to auction off his 1986 FA Cup loser's medal. [LNB]Argyle fans, grateful for Reid's efforts in keeping the team competitive despite the deduction of 10 points and sale of their best players, are planning to buy the medal and give it back to him.

Source: BBC_Sport