Thursday, October 18, 2012

Brendan Guilfoyle in the Huffington Post

Gareth Nicholson signposted this Love your club. But is it fit for purpose? to me via Twitter. It is written by Brendan Guilfoyle, late of this parish. Mr Guilfoyle, of course recently oversaw P&A's handling of Argyle's recent administration and is still firmly ensconced at P&A.

I was moved to enter a comment but having typed one up I don't seem to be able to enter it. I'm not sure why and I don't much care so don't bother trying to help but please don't hesitate to link to this blog if you are able to commment on Huff Po.

There is much that is transparent and wise in Mr Guilfoyle's observations.

However the practices that are accepted without so much as a question in the insolvency racket are astonishing and not transparent or wise in any shape or form. Consider for a few moments the merry-go-round of back-scratching that occurred during the Plymouth administration. For those unaware of what happened here is as brief a précis as I can manage...

Peter Ridsdale (checkout what has happened to him since!) unexpectedly turned up at a Plymouth home game as a "guest" of the then-chairman Mr Stapleton. It was, apparently, a mere jaunt for him during a moorland walking holiday. Before you could read the Huff Post T&Cs Mr Ridsdale was appointed as an "unpaid advisor" to the old board and they attempted to fend off the various winding-up orders emanating from HMRC. Eventually at the very last moment when all appeared to be lost and liquidation loomed Mr Ridsdale convinced the club, at last, to enter voluntary administration. In doing so Mr Ridsdale appointed Mr Guilfoyle's P&A Ltd as administrators, cheated HMRC and scores of other creditors of much of the money due to it/them (let's call it £10m to keep the numbers easy), incurred a football league sanction that meant that relegation was a near inevitability and appointed, a now generously salaried, Mr Ridsdale as P&A's head honcho at the club along the way.

The "search" for a buyer began. The only possible, we were told by Mr Guilfoyle, solution was to separate the club from the ground which appears to be strictly against his own advice. Amazingly Mr Ridsdale was to be a reluctant buyer of the club for a notional fee of £1 and the land the ground was on was to be sold to a shady, anonymous consortium named Bishop International variously believed to be either Irish or Gibraltan (Cloud Cuckooland was closer to the mark). More than once, repeatedly would be a better word, Mr Guilfoyle claimed not to know the identity of of the owners of BI. Eventually, despite various denials that he was involved in any way, Truro City's (check out what has happened to them since!) then-chairman Kevin Heaney (check out what has happened to him since!) was a proven to be a "consultant" for BI. Heaney/BI then failed to meet any number of deadlines for actually putting any money up to fund the deal. All the while the club's best players were sold for miserly fees, loyal club staff were summarily dismissed and the remaining players and staff went unpaid.

Eventually, after the players refused to play a game unless they were paid, even Mr Guilfoyle had no choice but to admit that BI/Heaney were not able to complete their end of a never-publicly-revealed deal. A genuine buyer, James Brent, was found, a Newco was established and Argyle, by now asset-stripped to the bare bones in terms of both playing and non-playing staff and having been forced to sell its land, what did Mr Guilfoyle say about that again?, at a knock-down price to the local council to finance the deal could begin to rebuild.

Mr Guilfoyle has many questions to answer with regard to the lies he repeatedly told the Plymouth public and press, about the true nature of his relationship with Mr Ridsdale, about the legal advice, never published, that he accepted apparently forcing him to lie (what sort of reputable legal advice would advise somebody to blatantly lie?) about the identities of those behind BI and about the contract agreed with BI which seemed to offer no incentives for BI to actually meet any of the clauses or timescales in it (or, natch, penalties if they did not).

There ought to be a full inquiry. There is an over-seeing self-regulatory body that can be called in to examine the role of insolvency practitioners within the administration process. The chair of the committee that would perform that role is Mr Guilfoyle.

Apparently all of the above is entirely legal. Staggering, isn't it? If Messrs Guilfoyle, Ridsdale or Heaney ever get linked to your club be afraid. Be very, very afraid. Above all believe nothing, question everything and be relentless in harrying them. Anything other than that will result in a trail of destruction being left in their wake that defies belief.

Thank you for reading!