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Argyle seek to strengthen links with business to boost revenues

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 06, 2012

James Brent says it is important that Plymouth Argyle becomes a sustainable business

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Plymouth Argyle's owner and chairman James Brent says that he will be looking to replicate the on and off pitch success of Exeter Chiefs as the club continues to fight back after a disastrous season last year.

The Pilgrims spent seven months in administration last year with Mr Brent finally agreeing a deal to buy the club almost a year ago after a protracted negotiation period.

Since then, Mr Brent has appointed a business-focused board including former finance director Martin Baker as chief executive, along with David Felwick, a former deputy chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, sport finance specialist banker Richard Holliday, and the Pilgrims' former vice-chairman and branding expert Peter Jones.

The top table is now working to transform the club's performance on and off the pitch so that it punches its weight.

"Exeter Chiefs provide wonderful rugby and wonderful facilities to give a real match day experience," he said. "We are in a drive to work area of 500,000. We are the league football club for Cornwall and West Devon – Argyle should be a bigger club."

For the 2012/3 season, the club relaunched its season tickets as membership packages in a bid to strengthen its relationship with fans, with prices starting at £25 and going up to £425.

Sales are one third up on last year, but have so far been below target, although Mr Brent conceded: "It was an ambitious target."

Although Mr Brent was a popular choice amongst fans to take on the running of the beleaguered club, he is keen to stress that the club must be financially self-supporting, rather than looking for hand outs. "It's not a good thing to have a benefactor. It should run on a sustainable basis with income it has gained," he said.

In order to boost revenues, Mr Brent is keen to improve the club's hospitality offering. It is also working to strengthen links with the city's business community and to increase the amount of corporate events hosted at Home Park to boost non-match day revenue. But key to this, he recognises, will be results. "We need to provide high quality football and winning football to maintain and increase the gates – we're very conscious of that."

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