Starnes' Summer Update
CHIEF Executive Martyn Starnes has given us an update on all things Argyle, as the Pilgrims make progress behind the scenes in preparation for the 2016-17 season.
Martyn on... Pre-Season
An extremely quick turnaround for Derek Adams and his side sees them report back for duty on July 1. Derek and the boys will return to a pre-season schedule already prepared, including visits to local opposition, a tour of Holland and, finally, hosting West Bromwich Albion.
"It's extremely short, being that we were in the play-off final on the May 30," said Martyn on the turnaround, "and the players will come back on the 1st of July. It is literally just a month, which is a very short period to get ready for the new season.
"All the friendlies are arranged now for the first team. The final one was put to bed in the last few days: away to Weymouth, and that's immediately before we go on the training camp to Holland. We're done as far as the first team is concerned.
"I think our attitude is that we're a community club, and we do like to take the first team around to other areas of the counties, Devon and Cornwall, to let Argyle fans see the new players and indeed the existing ones. A tour to Holland: it's the first time the team's been away for a while, and hopefully that will be of big benefit to Derek and the players. We've got a good game away at Maastricht's ground, so I think that'll be a good test.
"It's always difficult pinning teams down, to be honest with you - especially if you're looking for a prestige game, because you can put in your application to play a club and they'll just say 'we'll get back to you'. They're fishing around for their own friendlies and maybe tours, as well, and won't confirm dates until the last minute.
"We're pretty pleased that we managed to get quite an early agreement with West Brom to come down here. It'll be the only home friendly because of the pitch renovation that's been going on and the concert, so there's been very limited time to get it ready. We're pleased with that, and the other games that Derek has arranged will be good workouts in the build-up to the new season."
Martyn on...The Pitch
Standing next the rapidly regrowing surface at Home Park, Starnes told us he had no concerns about the pitch for the new season, which has been relaid after the end of last season and before the recent Rod Stewart concert.
"We obviously did some major renovation work before the concert," said Martyn, "which we had to do to get the work done in time for the new season.
"We were concerned about the effect the concert would have on the new pitch, but although there was some minor damage, we're getting that fixed, and the pitch is recovering really well since all the equipment was removed and the seating was removed after the performance."
Understandably, everyone connected with Argyle is keen to hear news on signings for the squad - whether they are new arrivals or contract renewals. Martyn is pleased with the progress he and Derek are making towards potential incomings, and expects some exciting news to be announced in the very near future.
"Derek's been very active in trying to recruit players for the new season - that process is going very well," said Starnes.
"Offers have gone out to a significant number of players, and we've got an agreement on a lot of them as well, so we're really pleased with the way things are going, and we should be in a position to be specific about who we're signing very shortly.
"It's the funny season, with players and agents trying to get the best deal for themselves, and I'm pleased to say that Derek has been able to get agreement with a number of players, but you've still got to get them here. The agreement is subject to a medical, so they've got to get to the ground, they've got to complete all the paperwork, so it's a difficult period, this month of June, in getting everything put together."
Martyn on...The EFL Trophy
The Chief Executive attended an important EFL conference over the summer, where many issues concerning the future of the Football League were on the agenda. One immediate change will see 16 selected Premier League under-21 sides join a revamped EFL Trophy, and Starnes outlined the club's stance on the changes.
"It was a request that came in late from the Premier League before the meeting," said Martyn, "and it was sold to us on the fact that the Football League felt that, with an 18% drop in attendances last season, the competition probably needed a bit of a refresh.
"So, they've not only looked at admitting some Premier League under-21 sides on a trial basis; they've revamped the competition so that the opening stages will be in a group situation. I think most of the clubs treated it with some caution, this request, and some sceptisism, but on the basis that it is only a trial, it was felt that it was probably the best thing to do to support the Football League board's recommendation to go ahead with the 16 clubs.
"We also felt that, although we do have some concerns about it, with the Football League helping Plymouth Argyle extensively five years ago, when the club was coming out of administration and allowing us to continue in the Football League, we ought to show some solidarity."
Martyn on... A Shirt Sponsor
Away from the playing staff, other important negotiations are ongoing at Home Park, including securing a new shirt sponsor for the upcoming campaign. The club is finalising details with a new partner on that front and, once again, Martyn expects some positive news to be announced imminently.
"We've got an agreement with the new sponsor," said Starnes. "We're just working through the contract details now, and I'm hoping we'll be in a position to announce that very shortly."
The full video interview with Martyn can be viewed by Argyle Player subscribers atplayer.pafc.co.uk