Plymouth Argyle fans bid to rescue cash-strapped club with supporters' trust
A GROUP of Plymouth Argyle fans are taking the first steps towards setting up a body that could rescue the cash-strapped club.
Organisers are due to meet MPs in London this evening with the idea of forming a Supporters' Trust, aimed at gaining at least one seat in the boardroom.
Should the Pilgrims go into administration, they hope enough fans will unite to be able to take control.
More than 40 football clubs have independent, democratic fan representation within their corridors of power, with rivals Exeter City controlled by a Supporters Trust since 2007.
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A public meeting will be held in Plymouth ahead of the Devon derby on Saturday, December 11.
Among the organisers – backed by city MPs and dozens of supporters on the online PASOTI forum – are John Petrie and Lee Jameson.
Mr Jameson, chairman of the Plymouth Argyle Supporters' Association London Branch, said: "We have to forge a way forward for the club should the worst case scenario happen.
"It's about making sure the city has got a football team – and making sure its fans have a say.
"We need to do this in a manner that is constructive, not accusatory."
Mr Jameson is due to meet Plymouth Sutton and Devonport Conservative MP Oliver Colvile, Argyle fan and Tory MP for Chelsea and Fulham Greg Hands and former Pilgrims vice-chairman Peter Jones at the House of Commons this evening.
He also has support from Exeter City directors and Supporters Direct, an organisation set up with cross-party support from the Government to advise sports fans on how to operate a Supporters' Trust.
Labour MP for Plymouth Moor View, Alison Seabeck, said she would be attending the public meeting later this month.
"I welcome the fact that the fans are trying to help find a solution," she said. "We need to find a way forward, either through the directors or some of the options the supporters are exploring.
"Clearly the club is in some difficulty, and whether or not there are options that can be explored that can give it financial stability and perhaps a bit more say to the Green Army, that needs to be looked at.
"I think having the supporters buying in is always a positive thing with a football club."
Ms Seabeck also put pressure on the current board of directors to be more open with fans about recent turmoil.
She said: "I don't know how the higher echelons are viewing this idea but they are not being particularly forthcoming.
"They deserve credit for putting their own money in, but if people don't know the facts then they make assumptions.
"I hope we can end up with a constructive dialogue. The club doesn't need further instability or conflict."
Mr Colvile described the crisis at Home Park as "very worrying and very sad".
He said: "Plymouth Argyle Football Club is a very important part of Plymouth life.
"I think fans should have their say in what happens and I am looking forward to the meeting."
Mr Jones said he was awaiting the outcome of today's World Cup decision and ongoing crisis talks before committing himself to the idea of a Supporters' Trust.
He said: "It's great they are getting together, but I think the time to get running on this is when there is a definite, not theoretical, need.
"There does appear to be a massive structural problem at Argyle – it's a complete mess.
"I think the World Cup decision will make a huge difference to the aspirations of the board members."
Another ex-director told The Herald he would consider getting involved should the plans gather momentum.
Meanwhile, a number of Argyle fans are planning to travel to London's High Court next week for the crunch hearing.
The meeting about potentially setting up a Supporters' Trust will be held at the Stoke Social Club in Devonport Road from 12.30pm.