Wednesday, January 04, 2006


One of the most, perhaps the most, significant event in the recent history of our club was the announcement that the ground was going to be redeveloped. If my memory is correct it was McCauley who was in charge at the time. Little were we to know that this was going to be the final act of the tragi-comedy that defined his leadership. His legacy is mixed and there is much to denigrate about his time at the club but he should be congratulated for the decision to hang on as long as he did and not to sell out to shady characters like Scardino or Tiller. These two sniffed around the club and there were elements fiercely in favour of them, or at least pro-anybody-but-McCauley, and they have proved to be less than attractive individuals to be associated with this, or indeed any, football club since.

After a summer of watching Home Park getting flattened on GoS the season started with the bombshell announcement that McCauley had sold up. Later it emerged that he had sold up to a loose collective of individuals, Argyle fans one and all. They had simply had enough. Money seemed to be tight and McCauley lingered awhile until financial shenanigans were completed and eventually he moved on. Those responsible for the takeover were Messrs Stapleton, Gill, Warren, Jones and Foot and, perhaps, in no small way the owners of Pasoti without whom the Cooperage gig would never have happened and without that gig the key personnel would never have met.

Once they were in control the issue of who would be chairman had to be decided. Paul Stapleton, being Plymouth based and with a background in accounting was the logical choice. Each of the directors had an equal say in all decisions and presumably the Chairman had the casting vote whenever necessary as is the norm. A modest 5 Year Plan was published which was soon exceeded in every respect but more of that later.

I, like just about everybody else, was delighted to see the McCauley era come to an end. I knew next to nothing about the new people other than what we all knew about Michael Foot and vaguely knowing Nic Warren through us having been at primary school together many years before. The presence of Michael Foot was a Godsend as far as the legitimacy and the integrity of the new people was concerned and everybody supported them. Then came $’s (sorry I just can’t help myself - I'll explain on here one day) Glory Years. Joy was unconfined all-round and all was going swimmingly. McCauley had long since left and been replaced. The only flies in the ointment seemed to be the puzzling affair surrounding the dismissal of McNulty as CEO and the purchase of Plymouth Cricket Club by the Plymouth-based directors. Rumours surfaced of a Plymouth/London split in the boardroom…

$ cleared off which was a body blow to us all and Williamson arrived. In due course Messrs Jones and Foot stood down from the board in circumstances that have never been made public, I feel. The loss of these two was seismic. Peter Jones had handled the media in the aftermath of the $ departure with no little skill and integrity. We all remember his “stuck pig” posting on Pasoti. Michael Foot’s presence was far more ethereal and far more to do with spirit rather than deed. He probably did next to nothing on a day-to-day basis but his mere presence acted as a bullet-proof vest for the club. There could be no accusations of grasping capitalism or narrow personal self-interest whilst his name was attached to the club. It was/is unthinkable that he would be any part of such things. But leave they did. Foot’s advancing years obviously being a factor. I had always assumed that his interest in the club would be passed along to Paul Foot when the time came but unfortunately Paul Foot died and the world lost much more than “just another journalist” when he did. Was this why Michael Foot decided to stand down? I don’t know and it is all supposition. One thing is certain Foot and Jones were very closely allied, and probably still are, and as friends there is no reason why they shouldn’t have been.

This potted history brings us up to now. The Glory Years have gone. Williamson has gone. We are no longer swaggering around like playground bullies administering a good beating to whoever comes in our path. We are struggling and decisions have to be made. Football is so cash-orientated these days that only the richest clubs find success and the poorest fall by the wayside. There is no way we can consider ourselves a rich club although we can consider ourselves financially stable and we have done for a few years now. The challenges that face us now were inconceivable when P1 was announced or when the 5 Year Plan was published and that is the nub. P1 allowed for an 18500 capacity and at the time I would have argued that it was too small but the funding came from here, there and everywhere and some of it was contingent on current attendances and to lobby for 18500 when crowds were around 4000 was actually quite a result in retrospect. Those plans were too small then and they are too small now.

This raises the question of P2. Why is it all so quiet? Why should it be a secret? Why can nobody actually commit to anything? Who knows? One thing is certain and that is that the club ought to be letting us know something even if it is a statement as bland as all current plans have been deferred. If not the club then the council. Tudor Evans must not be allowed to wriggle away from his balcony promise. Until P2 is planned and sorted then it has a knock-on effect to all of the clubs fiscal planning. We need to pay for it and we need to cover lost revenue whilst the build takes place. We also need to improve the team in order to compete at this level and to go forward and that costs, too. There are decisions to be made about the future of the club and those include whether to go for outside investment or whether to try to operate within the constraints of current income. Without knowing what the plans for P2 are or without knowing what the next 5 Year Plan will include then we just have to accept that those currently in situ are doing the best they can for the club. We have to accept that they are making the right decisions and that if they have rejected offers of investment then the terms of that investment must have been unfavourable in some way to the club. Never at any stage has there been reason to think otherwise since the arrival of Stapleton and Co many moons ago. If I appear to have adopted an aggressive pro-board stance on this issue it’s because, on the whole, I am delighted with the achievements of the club in recent years and see no reason to think that the board will jeopardize those achievements either now or in the future.

If I have seemed overly combative in arguing my point it is because the current sniping about the board is very reminiscent of the low-level sniping that was aimed at BW to begin with. This got worse and worse and in many instances it was unjustifiable. It just seems to me that the sharks having tasted blood have moved on and are now after a bigger meal. For people who I consider to be decent and doing a decent job to be subjected to all this innuendo, against which it is impossible to argue unless you are on the inside (and in which case you should be big enough to just ignore it), is just not good enough. All of those alledging that huge investment has been turned down know exactly what they are doing and they are destabilizing the current leadership of the club on purpose – there is no other explanation. The club cannot be seen to reply to tittle-tattle on a messageboard so they cannot give the reasons why the alledged investment has been turned down and unless those constantly alluding to it are able to enlighten us as to the terms and conditions then I am happy to accept that the board are making the right decision on behalf of the club, themselves, me and all the other footsoldiers in the Green Army.

The above is a slightly amended version of a Pasoti posting I made some time ago but it largely joins a few dots between the McCauley era and now.


At 5:09 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You say:
"sell out to shady characters like Scardino or Tiller. These two sniffed around the club and there were elements fiercely in favour of them, or at least pro-anybody-but-McCauley, and they have proved to be less than attractive individuals to be associated with this, or indeed any, football club since".

Please explain where they were proved less than attractive individuals to be associated... etc!!!

This statement is grossly offensive. Please explain or remove.

At 11:44 pm, Blogger Babararacucudada said...

Only too happy to oblige once I know exactly who you are and why this is so offensive.

At 12:14 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find describing potential investors in the club as "shady" and "less than attractive" in addition to describe their interest as "sniffing around", as offensive to anyone with Argyles best interests at heart?.

Perhaps if flavours of their other dealings before or since which led you to these low opinions were also reported, it then validates these opinions. Readers could judge then for themselves.

Genuine investors (or potential) in Argyle deserve a little respect surely?

At 2:10 pm, Blogger Babararacucudada said...

Edited to correct spelling.

Well That depends on how you define "genuine".

Starting with Steve Tiller:

I know somebody who met him at the time he was publicising his interest and my friend asked him a few straight questions to which straight answers never came. Didn't it transpire that he was unable to provide financial guarantees? The assessment of my friend at the time was "I wouldn't trust him as far as I can spit".

Wasn't there a fanzine interview at the time which concluded similarly?

There was a Scardino heavily involved in events at Notts County that led to them being paced in administration for several years. Was it the same one? Are there loads of rich people called Scardino with an interest in football clubs?

Neither satisfied McCauley that they were genuine and I'd suggest he was quite right. They were probably never genuine in the way Stapleton & Co. undoubtedly were.

Shady? Not exactly basking in the light of the righteous to my mind.

I am glad that neither ever took control of this club and I'll wager Notts County fans wish that Scardino had never surfaced at theirs.

At 2:40 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You seem to ask questions rather than give answers;

McCauley was a rival investor, why would they have to satisfy him. The existing Chairman was Peter Bloom?

Righteous mind?

With McCauley, the club dropped to it's lowest ever league position, yet you are glad.

Please remove unsubstantiated comments.

At 6:06 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

McCauley was a rival to the other consortium, Peter Blooms Board decided.

Righteous mind?

McCauley took the club to its worst ever position, you're happy with that?


Post a Comment

<< Home