Serendipity

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Surprises Just Keep On Coming

It isn’t exactly officially confirmed yet but it now appears as if Heaney’s interest in Argyle is over. Of course if he was only a representative for Bishop International all along, as he has always claimed, then we may yet have to wait to see the end of BIL’s interest.

You have to wonder just what Heaney has been playing at throughout this whole episode. Why bid a sum of money that you cannot deliver? Why buy exclusivity at a cost of a cool mi££ion? Having done that why not put the entire mi££ion in as promised so that the team you hope to buy at least has some hope? OK so he didn’t ever actually put that mi££ion in but he has put £300k in and that seems, to me, like a lot of money to lose in any context.

I suppose the signs of Heaney's eventual failure have been there all along. From the first moment that Heaney’s interest was rumoured sections of Argyle’s Cornish support started ringing the alarm bells. All was not well in Heaney’s corporate empire and Cornish Homes had collapsed leaving a lengthy list of unpaid creditors in circumstances almost exactly identical to the collapse of PAFC.

So the signs that Heaney’s bid was potentially problematic were there from the very start. As events unfolded there was nothing to stop the alarm bells ringing and as every deadline was missed and as every wage deferral was “agreed” so those bells rang faster and louder.

On 5th September I found myself in the Plymouth court building and as I hung around waiting I idly glanced at the notice board where the cases to be heard that day were listed and saw this:



"Truro City" leaped out at me straight away but I didn’t know what a disposal hearing was and had to look it up:

Where the defendant has admitted the claim, a disposal hearing may be necessary for the court to determine how the debt should be paid. Such a hearing will only be necessary where the court have insufficient information to determine the rate (or time) of payment, or you have challenged the rate (or time) of payment ordered by the court.

The court will give you and the defendant at least 14 days notice of the date and time of the hearing.


You must attend the hearing and tell the district judge why you do not accept the defendant's offer of payment (or the court's order) produce recent evidence of the defendant's means to support your argument.

(from http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/manuals/dmbmanual/dmbm666160.htm)

So it appeared as though Heaney was having problems paying his solicitor’s bill. The following day this report appeared in the Herald:

http://www.thisisplymouth.co.uk/Heaney- ... story.html

So all of that on top of a County Court Judgement for a relatively piffling £18k a while back suggested that Heaney simply couldn’t deliver.

And then on Friday two more bombshells exploded. A winding-up order being served on Truro City was one of them:

http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/59914/notices/1442725/

Obviously Heaney was unconcerned and it was all just somebody else’s fault or a mistake or something:

http://www.thisiscornwall.co.uk/Truro-City-winding-order/story-13380569-detail/story.html

So the nightmare that has been haunting PAFC for months seems about to be unleashed down in Truro. I can only wish them well.

I said there was “two bombshells”. This is the second:

http://www.pafc.co.uk/page/NewsDetail/0,,10364~2460473,00.html

Just allow me a little backfill here…

Peter Ridsdale first emerged in an Argyle context as a guest of the old board. Apparently he had been on a walking holiday in the SW and, as an old mate of ex-chairman Paul Stapleton, had simply taken a game in. Then a couple of weeks later he was in the Directors’ Box at Oldham “a guest of the Oldham chairman” Argyle director Keith Todd assured us. “Pure coincidence. He lives nearby,” he said.

http://www.thisisdevon.co.uk/Reid-weary-legs-rest-Rovers-clash/story-11702691-detail/story.html

Ridsdale is obviously no stranger to football’s financial basket cases and not soon after that he was asked to help out as an “advisor”. At this point he started to act on Argyle’s behalf and was instrumental in raising the funding (a.k.a. selling everything in sight) needed to fend off HMRC’s relentless campaign. Most unreasonably HMRC seemed to believe that it ought to be paid the taxes, in full, due to it.

The fateful day arrived when Argyle could fight off the demands of the court and HMRC no longer. Argyle’s board of directors had long since ceased to function in any meaningful way and all they had done for weeks was bicker and finger-point. As the court recessed for lunch they finally agreed upon something. Ridsdale managed to convince the board to go into voluntary administration because the court was going to appoint an administrator once lunch was over anyway and at least this way there might still be a football club at the end of the process.

So Ridsdale picked up his phone and asked insolvency practitioner Brendan Guilfoyle to step in. He did. Guilfoyle then suspended (i.e. sacked) the board of directors en masse and with nobody to run the club Guilfoyle asked Ridsdale to act as CEO/Chairman as they set about finding a buyer to take the club on.

Essentially there were three bids and Heaney’s was the, ahem, “best” but Heaney had dual ownership issues seeing as he was owner and chairman of Truro City. To overcome this the plan was for Ridsdale to buy the club for £1 and for Heaney to buy the stadium and land.

So that was the plan. Except Heaney had no money and no apparent backers. And now the Heaney bid is history and five days after sacking Peter Reid as a manager, Ridsdale has announced that he is about to leave.

http://www.pafc.co.uk/page/NewsDetail/0,,10364~2460473,00.html

So what do we make of all of this? I suppose that Ridsdale has been true to his word. All along all he has said is that just wants to save Argyle. The saving now seems to be very close and Ridsdale seems set to leave. I think we’ll need to see him actually leave and then assess what, if anything, remains and then allow the dust to settle before his role can be properly assessed. If it ever can be at all.

Finally…. Argyle won a game yesterday!

A new owner on the horizon, council ownership of the stadium, no Heaney, no Ridsdale, no Guilfoyle, a new manager, goals, a win (!), a clean sheet…

Is it too early for a “Resurgam”?

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