The Times They Are a-Changin'
I consider myself to be a reasonably informed fan, but the ongoing takeover of my club has left me stumped. The change in ownership has been ‘just days away’ for a few months and there’s been an air of inevitability about it since Japanese businessman Yasuaki Kagami purchased a stake and became a director in mid-season.
Details about Kagami’s past are frustratingly vague and information regarding his background and his motivation for investing in a middling Championship side have hardly been forthcoming from official sources at the club. Indeed, when I tried to access the official line on Kagami’s profile page on the club website a moment ago, an error led me back to details about Paul Stapleton, our local accountant Chairman.
With our average attendance down year-on-year and with the Plymouth public as apathetic about its club as ever, change in direction is absolutely required, but it seems like it will have to come at a cost. Gone are the days when successful Plymouth businessmen and their associates could dream of funding an historic rise to the top flight, and new money is needed from somewhere. But while sides like Brighton may luck out with significant investment from a fan (and emphasis should be placed on may), Argyle will have to compromise by placing trust in an investor who is without question primarily looking to make a profit from his venture.
Whether that is achievable is anyone’s guess. Kagami has history in property and with the main grandstand at Home Park, the final stage of the ground’s redevelopment, still in the planning stages, there is scope and potential for residential or commercial property to be incorporated. But would a quick (and most likely modest) profit from such a project be worth all the hassle? Would Kagami travel from Japan to Plymouth and back however many times and assume an important role in a business requiring daily attention for a couple of blocks of student flats or a mid-sized hotel?
The club should respond to these questions, or at the very least allay some of the speculation with a club statement, but I doubt that anything will be said until the deal is done. I just hope that Argyle tell the fans how it is and drop the defensive (and disrespectful) ‘no comment’ line when the change is formalised.