Plymouth Argyle staff forced to quit as they face another month without full pay
STRUGGLING Argyle staff are being 'driven to quit' as they face another month without full wage packets, it has been claimed.
The club's administrator has offered staff and players only 50 per cent of their June salaries.
Repeated pay deferments are forcing staff into debt and some have chosen redundancy over further uncertainty, The Herald has learned.
The only time employees have received their full wages since January was in May.
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Fans, who have raised £75,000 to help those affected, last night demanded answers and a meeting with administrators.
The wife of an Argyle employee, who asked to remain anonymous, said her husband felt driven to take redundancy yesterday.
She said: "He left because he couldn't afford to carry on not being paid. We are on the bread line because of it.
"The freezer is empty, we are behind with the rent, the council tax and all the bills. We've spent our savings and it's putting us in debt.
"We are living off my small wage and £100 a week from the supporters' fund, which we wouldn't have survived without.
"He was told that if he wanted pay in the next couple of days, to get the reduced amount, he had to decide or be made redundant. So he took redundancy."
She added that they know of three other people who have chosen redundancy. She said they are not sure of the details of the severance package.
The Argyle Fans' Trust has demanded administrators explain why loyal staff are being asked to "put their livelihoods on the line", despite a cash injection from the club's unnamed preferred bidder.
The Herald understands Irish consortium bidders have agreed to an 'exclusivity' payment of £1million, effectively locking out competitors.
It is payable in three instalments by the end of this month, when they are expected to be confirmed as the owners.
Argyle has received £100,000, with another 'milestone' instalment due next week.
Peter Ridsdale, acting Argyle chairman, said the money has been used to pay staff and players, but has not been enough to cover all the payments.
Staff have been offered 30 per cent of June's salary in the next few days, with a further 20 per cent guaranteed by the end of the month, he said.
Chris Webb, acting Argyle Fans' Trust chairman, said: "It is not fair to continue to rely on the goodwill of people who have already given far more than they should ever have been asked to give."
The Fan's Trust has called on the buyers to provide funding in order to pay staff, and on administrators to explain the situation.
Brendan Guilfoyle, lead administrator, said: "I note and understand the concerns of the Argyle Fans' Trust but I am bound by confidentiality under a number of agreements which makes it impossible to respond to many of these comments.
"I have asked to meet the Fans' Trust at the earliest opportunity and I am grateful to the club's fans for their continued support in very difficult circumstances."
Mark Russell, secretary of the Green Taverners, who have led a hardship fund for long-suffering staff, said supporters have raised £75,000 in recent months. The money is currently helping support more than 50 non-playing Argyle staff – but donations are dwindling as the season is over and ground collections can no longer take place.
Mr Russell said he knows of staff who feel they had no choice than to take redundancy.
"Any other job and I think people would have walked away," he said. "But a lot of the staff are fans or have been here for a long time.
"People are struggling to pay bills, are borrowing money from friends and family. There's only so long that can go on."
He urged supporters and past directors to donate whatever they can to the staff fund appeal.
Fans are holding a car boot sale at Home Park tomorrow. It opens 1pm for sellers and 2pm for the public. For details visit www.greentaverners.co.uk