I LAST wrote to you just before the penultimate game of the season, at Accrington Stanley. That game was a disaster, and we spent the following week doing everything we, at the club, could do to give us a chance of avoiding relegation by beating Scunthorpe at Home Park the following Saturday.
Kevin Nancekivell was given the task of raising spirits, and he succeeded. His message to the players – “Just run, and keep running” – was well-heard and, from the opening seconds of the game, the players responded and gave us the win we needed.
Although that win was useless to us in terms of league position, Kevin’s work, the team’s response and the reaction of our fans at a packed Home Park marked a turning point for Argyle.
Of course, the mood was despondent for a day or two, but, five weeks later, spirits are high and we are looking forward to a new season, albeit not in the league we want to be in.
There is a feeling of optimism around the place – perhaps uncharacteristically! It is not just because we can see a fine, renovated Mayflower Grandstand going up, but because we can see signs of renewed ambition.
Nowhere is that more true than in our new manager. Ryan Lowe and his assistant Steve Schumacher are young, forward-thinking, and, above all, ambitious. They come from a city with a long and proud football tradition, marked by success, not just longevity. To hold their own with their football friends, they are going to need to be successful as well. I believe they will be.
Some fans criticised the recruiting panel for taking too long about our decision, and even doubted Ryan’s desire to come to Argyle. I hope those doubts have been laid to rest by what he has had to say since he met the media and the Green Army.
I will not apologise for taking our time to make sure, not only that we made the right choice, but also that the legal and contractual position was watertight and offered no risk to the club.
I am, however, very grateful to Andrew Parkinson and Zac Newton for their hard work, organisational skills and, perhaps above all, calm heads when I was, admittedly, becoming as frustrated as the next fan about apparent lack of progress in the transaction to bring Ryan and Steve to Home Park.
We also announced recently that I had bought James Brent’s remaining shares from him, and that he and Natasha, his daughter, had stepped down from the Argyle Board.
That seems like the end of a process that began three years ago, when I first became a shareholder, but it was not my original intention either to become chairman or to own almost all the shares! That I have done so is the result of the support I have had from the fans, and the enjoyment my wife Jane and I have had from being involved with Argyle. Thank you.
It does feel like the end of an era with James no longer involved (except as a member of the Pioneers and, no doubt, a highly vociferous fan). All supporters should be grateful for what he has done for Argyle over the years since 2011. I certainly am.
My increased shareholding does not mean a change in the goal of financial sustainability that I outlined in my last letter. It does mean that I will provide more capital in coming months.
The capital will come in the form of shares, not debt. I will provide more details of this in my next letter, when I hope to be able to fulfil my promise of providing greater transparency into Argyle’s financial position.
Some of that money will go to fund continuing, but shrinking, deficits, and some to provide the cash to make further necessary investments in our infrastructure (for example, a new sound system at Home Park!)
Some, of course, will go to fund the football budget. That budget will be enough to allow us to compete in League Two, but no amount of spending can guarantee success, so it will not be an amount that will jeopardise the long-term goal of having sufficient revenue to match all our costs.
One source of revenue – though not, of course, the only one – is from ticket sales. So please cajole your friends to come and watch a game! Maybe we can encourage them to become fans. I think they will like the football that will be on offer.
I hope you all have a good summer. The new season cannot come soon enough!