Will the real fickle fan please stand up? Having been sceptical about the motivation behind businessman Yasuaki Kagami’s stake in the Pilgrims for months, Thursday’s takeover at Argyle and the PR surrounding it have, in the most part, put my mind at rest: I’ve met the facts of the deal with a mixture of relief and quiet excitement.
The involvement of Sir Roy Gardner and Keith Todd, speculated in the local media weeks ago, is the most positive news for many fans. Their introduction adds a couple of strings to The Green Bow while also diluting a potential monopoly. Argyle have found it difficult to make progress since Plymouth Enemy No. 1 Ian Holloway’s departure towards the end of 2007, and last season’s struggle against relegation emphasised the need to explore additional investment and, perhaps more importantly, fresh ideas. Engaging the experience and business acumen that Gardner and Todd possess therefore seems like a real coup.
Rather significantly, Sir Roy’s assumption of the Chairmanship marks the first time in 50 odd years that the position has been filled by a person with no local connection. It had become all too clear over two tumultuous seasons at Home Park that the Janner Mafia in the boardroom needed to be broken up and that commercial and marketing efforts in particular needed new energy. Outgoing Chairman Paul Stapleton admitted as much, and the new directors have already heralded the new era by launching a potentially exciting PAFC social networking site hosted by Ning. The previous incumbents never had the wherewithal to initiate such a project and, notwithstanding a brief cameo from the tub thumping Holloway, the club lost the battle to keep its fans onside long ago through the Board’s failure to effectively communicate its direction.
The introduction of this new platform which, if it takes off, will help to bridge the distance between the club and its fans while generating further awareness of Argyle should therefore be seen as a good sign. Director Todd has posted a couple of blogs and the feeling is that the Board are looking to follow Hull’s path in rallying the fanbase and creating excitement around ‘the brand’. While talk of our ‘brand’, which has undoubtedly gone unexploited over the boom years, makes you squirm a little, no Argyle fan would argue that sub 11k crowds and relying on others to nosedive is the way forward, and there has to be some give and take. George Synan, Kagami’s go-between on the board, has been particularly adept at such corporate speak and his suggestion of bringing in Japanese internationals to supplement our ‘crew’ after 2010 in South Africa grates, but I think that things are looking up for the moment.