Plymouth celebrates as Argyle beat relegation threat
CITY leaders have expressed their relief at Plymouth Argyle escaping a 'tragic' drop out of the Football League.
Argyle guaranteed their place in the league next season at a jubilant Home Park this weekend.
It came after a nightmare season where the club was on the brink of league and financial oblivion – which would have sent shockwaves through Plymouth's economy.
But now Argyle are on safer ground for the next year at least after the Pilgrims kept their vital place in the league.
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City council leader Vivien Pengelly said: "It's terribly important that a city our size should have a professional team in the league, though we should be in the Championship, not League Two.
"A successful football team means a successful city – it gives everyone a lift.
"I'm a season ticket holder and see coaches come from Cornwall and North Devon, while some fans travel from the other side of London.
"They may stay for the weekend and their wives go shopping – it's all good for Plymouth."
David Parlby, chief executive of Plymouth Chamber of Commerce, said: "This is very good news for the morale of the city as a whole.
"For the 15th biggest city in the country not to have a team in the league would be very unusual.
"We are the biggest city in the South West next to Bristol, and it is our rightful place to act as a hub for sport, leisure and many other things."
Argyle owner James Brent, who only days ago revealed plans for a major revamp of the Pavilions and a new 1500-seater ice rink at Home Park, said: "Not having a professional football team would have been tragic, but the important thing for me was Plymouth Argyle not going into liquidation.
"That would have been disastrous for the city, the region and the fans who passionately love Plymouth Argyle.
"We have the best theatre in the region, the best facility of its kind in the Life Centre and a football club which has been good and can be great."
Fans witnessing the triumphant end to Argyle's heroic fight on Saturday also told The Herald of their joy and relief at their survival.
Plymouth-born John Jemmett, aged 65, had travelled from his home in London to see his beloved Argyle.
John said: "We're safe! It's a big deal - we don't want to go down the league. We've been relegated for the last three years.
"It's only been a year but we've gone through so much and gone so far."
Mary Staff said she was in tears at the final whistle.
The 52-year-old season-ticket holder said the game went "right down to the bitter end".
"The atmosphere was tremendous," she said.
"In the Green Army, we've got the best supporters in the country. We've supported our club, the players, the staff throughout the tough times.
"I was in tears at the end. With everything that's gone on it's a bit of justice."
Raymond Harris and his wife Margaret, from Saltash, were ecstatic. Raymond, aged 68, said: "From what we've been through from the start, from the youngsters who fought for Argyle at the beginning of the year, staff working with no wages. You forget these people at the beginning, but without them and the back room staff, where would we have been.
"It's fair to say its one of the happiest days of our lives – even though it's only football."
Margaret, aged 46, was quick to praise Argyle owner James Brent.
She said: "If it wasn't for him, we wouldn't be here. Thank you Mr Brent for keeping us going. We sit by you in the stands and we'd like to shake your hand."
Colin Reynolds, from Taunton, said the result "means a lot more than you'll ever know" before recounting how his father – a long-term Argyle season-ticket holder – passed away in January.
Colin, aged 46, said: "I promised him they would stay up.
"With what James Brent's doing here and what's been built next door [The Life Centre] I think people in Plymouth should look forward. This football club and its survival should lead the way for the city."
Colin said his father's ticket has now been passed to his 12-year-old daughter – named Hope – who was with him for Saturday's landmark match.
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