BUSINESSMEN with links to Plymouth Argyle’s discredited Japan-based former chiefs have been involved in the collapse of another English football club, The Herald can reveal.
Rushden & Diamonds went out of business earlier this summer after a promised rescue bid from the Far East failed.
And Tony Campbell, Argyle’s former chief operating officer who brought Tokyo-based businessmen Yasuaki Kagami and George Synan to Home Park, appears to be at the centre of failed efforts to save the non-league club.
He was working with one of Mr Kagami’s associates whose company was trying to buy Rushden – but the rescue cash never arrived and the club hit the wall.
Mr Campbell brokered the deal that saw Mr Kagami’s K&K Shonan Management Corporation become Argyle’s largest single shareholder.
He also represented Mr Kagami and his business partner Mr Synan, who became directors, at board level for over a year.
The pair provoked fury among Pilgrims fans earlier this year when they failed to deliver £2million – promised in writing before a High Court judge – to keep Argyle out of administration.
Now The Herald has obtained documents detailing a similar scenario in the run-up to Rushden’s demise.
In June, the Northamptonshire outfit dodged a winding-up petition by asking a court for more time to pay debts of around £250,000.
They were granted 21 days after producing a letter from the Tokyo-based Marge Property Management Corporation saying it had agreed to buy the club and settle its debts.
In it, Marge president Hideki Hayashi apologised for the delay in securing takeover cash from the Gatekeeper (GK) Partners KK Investment Fund, but said a five-figure deposit would arrive within days.
But the money never appeared, and the Diamonds, with no other backers, were plunged into administration in July.
They have now been expelled from the Conference, their stadium handed to rivals Kettering Town and fans left to form a non-competitive phoenix club.
Paperwork reveals Mr Campbell had agreed heads of terms on behalf of Marge, after being locked in “detailed negotiations” with Diamonds officials since early May – just two months after being made redundant by the Pilgrims’ administrators.
The Herald has learned that Mr Hayashi was also circling Home Park earlier this year.
In January, with the Pilgrims desperate for investment, he held talks with Mr Kagami – and made contact with other club bosses through Mr Campbell.
Around £1million was due to be pumped into Argyle, but the funding never materialised.
The Herald has been unable to contact lifelong Argyle fan Mr Campbell, who was a popular face at Home Park, while Mr Synan declined to comment on behalf of himself and Mr Kagami.
K&K Shonan and Marge have worked closely on a planned Tokyo shopping centre, while both Marge and Mr Synan have history in the region’s coffee shop industry.
Mr Hayashi also studied alongside Japanese investor Koichiro Abe – a London-based associate of Mr Kagami and Mr Synan – at the prestigious Waseba University.
Mr Abe, who had invested £320,000 in Argyle before administration, was rumoured to have been involved in a proposed takeover of the Greens led by Cornwall-based developer Kevin Heaney.
Mr Heaney denies the former Goldman Sachs banker is behind any of the £6million funding required.
Neither Mr Kagami, Mr Hayashi or Mr Abe have responded to requests for comment.
Mr Synan also declined to say whether he was connected to a bid to buy Argyle out of administration.