Redundancies At Home Park?
With unconfirmed reports that there will be redundancies at Plymouth Argyle it appears that once again the staff are the ones being sacrificed to help a football club.
During 2011 the club went through a horrendous administration process where the staff and players gave up their right to be paid for their work in order for PAFC to survive.
The staff gave up their wages for months in order to save a football club and for fans to have their bi-weekly fix of watching 11 men in green shirts chasing a football around Home Park.
James Brent finally took over at Argyle in October 2011, the administration nightmare was over and the staff could finally receive their wages although their back-dated salaries were paid in instalments over a five year period.
However, today BBC Spotlight news reports that up to 10 staff at Home Park are to be made redundant as the club restructures its staffing levels. We still await confirmation from the club although this is horrible news at any time but even worse so close to Christmas.
We've had the so-called glory years when Argyle were playing in the Championship but looked what happened - the club paid out 87% of its turnover on wages which ultimately led to the administration process and £17 million worth of debt!
James Brent is a very successful businessman and is attempting to run a football club within its means and stay within the Football League salary cap of 55% of turnover. Argyle have already proven that success can be achieved on a budget with their last three promotions all coming with a wage-to-turnover ratio of less than 50%.
Today's news that staff are to made redundant is almost certainly linked to falling attendances at Home Park.
This seasons average of 6,320 is the third highest in League Two, behind Bradford and Rotherham, but is already nearly 600 down on last season's average and 2,300 less than two years ago when the Pilgrims were playing in League One.
So in summary, based on adult-priced tickets the club is losing around £12,000 a game compared to last season or a whopping £46,000 a game from two years ago.
We can't go on like that.
Traditionally the Plymouth public do not really back their team until after Christmas but it's clear stay-away fans are financially hurting the club with James Brent, as revealed last week, having to pump money into the club to make up for the shortfall against the budget.
But it's too simple and easy to blame the redundancies on the stay-away fans, the manager Carl Fletcher and his players must take a lot of the responsibility for dwindling crowds.
A winning team will always be well supported, however, Argyle have won just twice from the seven league games played at home this season with the standard and entertainment value for some games very poor.
Fletch has a difficult task of turning around a football club, playing attractive football and getting results; he's had decent financial backing with a budget set for the whole of the season. In fact, Fletch has used 26 players in the league so far this season, the fourth highest in League Two and should certainly know his best line-up and formation by now.
In this new self-sufficient dawn at Home Park the fans will have to get used to belt-tightening because the club needs to be managed within its means, after the horror of 2011 the Green Army will surely know this better than anyone.
The manager and players simply have to perform better at home, win some games and the crowds will return to give the budget a major boost.
Our thoughts go out to the staff.