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Sexstone brings years of experience with him into Plymouth Argyle's boardroom

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: November 15, 2012

Colin Sexstone: 'Can Argyle get back to the Championship? Yes, they can, but it will need to be done having set in place a sound financial foundation'

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New boardroom signing Colin Sexstone believes Plymouth Argyle can reclaim their place in the npower Championship – but insisted that goal will take time.

Sexstone this week joined the Pilgrims' board as a non-executive director after being impressed by the "ambition and common-sense approach" of owner and chairman James Brent and his fellow board members.

The former Bristol City chief executive and chairman said he had enjoyed his visits to Plymouth and had enjoyed watching Argyle "over the past couple of months".

Sexstone said that he will bring to Home Park "long and hard-earned years of football experience" which is he is hopeful can benefit the npower League Two club.

The 64-year-old insisted that he had no ambitions to be anything other than a non-executive director, and is hoping his "extensive footballing knowledge, contacts and business acumen" can lift the Pilgrims both on and off the pitch.

Sexstone said, though, that it was clear, after watching the inconsistent displays of the Pilgrims, that manager Carl Fletcher's job "was work in progress" and should be judged as such.

The former Gloucestershire County Cricket Club chief executive believes there is a new realism "not just on the board but with the fans, too", as a direct result of last year's seven-month spell in administration that past mistakes must not be repeated.

Sexstone said: "I'm delighted to have been asked to join the Argyle board in this capacity and will do all I can to help restore the club's fortunes in whatever way I can.

"If I didn't think I could be of any use or that James [Brent] and his fellow board members were sympathetic to my vision of how the club can be run, then I wouldn't have joined them.

"But I really believe there is a good future for Argyle and that there is a common will from board and fans alike that the club will succeed.

"Obviously, after watching from afar with horror how close Argyle came to going out of business or the Football League, it's clear the job of restoring their fortunes is not going to be achieved overnight.

"But the important fact is that it can be done, but with patience and not throwing around trying to achieve it.

"It would be the height of stupidity if one didn't learn from previous mistakes and I don't think that's likely to happen here."

Sexstone, who spent a combined total of 11 years in his two roles with Bristol City, added: "So, I've been asked to try and help the club raise revenues without it impacting on the fans.

"I've had success with that in the past at Bristol City and at Gloucestershire, and I know that it's possible to get the right balance so that ambitions can be realised on and off the field.

"It's not easy and sometimes fans and those with the club's interests at heart will feel frustrated at the perceived lack of progress.

"For example, I have watched Argyle play on a couple of occasions recently and it's fair to say that the quality of their performances have varied.

"They were poor in what was a poor game against AFC Wimbledon but then they were unlucky not to have done better than drawn against Gillingham, who are top of the division.

"But, in my view, this up-and-down form is only natural as Argyle are an evolving side and so consistency is going to be hard to achieve.

"But can Argyle get back to the Championship? Yes, they can, but it's not going to happen overnight and it will need to be done having set in place a sound financial foundation."

Sexstone's decade-long spell with Bristol City began in 2001, after spending the previous five years at Gloucestershire County Cricket Club.

During that period, City won promotion to the Championship and came close to going up to the Premier League in 2008, losing to Hull City in the play-off finals.

Under his leadership, City more than doubled their revenues and he was involved in a range of successful events at Ashton Gate, including major concerts and international rugby union.

As a governor of City's Academy – one of the first in the UK – he was instrumental in its formation and construction. He is a Director of the Football League Trust.

Sexstone also played a key role in delivering plans for the club's proposed new stadium, and in Bristol's selection as a host city for England's 2018 World Cup bid.

At Gloucestershire County Cricket Club, both the club and its Nevil Road ground flourished in his five years as chief executive.

As well as seeing Gloucestershire win five one-day trophies, he was responsible for the development of the County Ground to international standards.

Prior to becoming a sports administrator, Sexstone served 25 years in the Royal Air Force, where his roles included chief executive of RAF Rudloe Manor and also director of personnel.

James Brent has admitted to 'a lot of frustration' over Argyle's fluctuating fortunes on the pitch this season.

The Pilgrims seemed to be on the up when they won three consecutive matches early in October, but they then lost their next four fixtures, culminating in a 2-1 League Town home defeat to Burton Albion last Wednesday.

Argyle then drew 2-2 with table-topping Gillingham at Home Park last Saturday, after twice taking the lead. That result leaves them 19th in League Two, ahead of back-to-back away games against promotion-chasing pair Fleetwood Town and Bradford City.

They also crashed out of the FA Cup in the first round when they were beaten 1-0 at non-League side Dorchester Town.

Brent said: "Maybe I have got green tints and I certainly have no experience [of football] but, watching the games I have, I haven't see one team that has looked any better inherently than ours.

"To me, I think we gift-wrapped three points and handed them across to Burton Albion. It was just beyond frustrating. I didn't go to Cheltenham but everyone I have spoken to said we should have won that game, and at the very least got a draw.

"Dorchester Town was a total disaster, but I guess that's what makes the FA Cup exciting. Unfortunately we were the victims of the excitement rather than the perpetrators.

"There is a lot of frustration but we will do whatever we can to support the football management and, hopefully, see better results."

Brent also confirmed that the opportunity for the Argyle Fans' Trust to purchase up to a 20 per cent stake in the club remains on the table. The offer was first announced by Brent in January this year.

Argyle's FA Youth Cup run is over after last night's 3-2 second-round defeat to Oxford United at Didcot Town.

Tyler Harvey lobbed the Pilgrims into a 26th-minute lead but Oxford drew a minute before half-time with a goal from Jermaine Udumaga.

An own goal from Argyle defender Colin Watson gave Oxford the lead seven minutes after the interval.

Kevin Hodges' young Pilgrims fought back and Matt Lecointe equalised from the penalty spot in the 68th minute, after Justin Niangasa had brought down Joshua Hutchinson.

With seven minutes left, it was Oxford who earned a third-round tie at home to Barnsley when James Roberts grabbed the winner.

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