I’m recently “returned” to Oregon from a week + in Kitsapland, hanging out for five days with my partner’s family, followed by an impromptu three-night stand with my fleet of cousins. The latter was a non-stop holiday gala with excellent food, political debate, and, oh yeah, soaked with alcohol of all sorts (and at all times). Beyond my phone I was well off the grid, literally, figuratively, metaphorically.
As predicted in Revelations, England retained the Ashes for the first time in 24 years in imperious fashion. This now seems so long ago. Whether or not this is a sign of the promised apocalypse I can’t say, but as the sun is currently shining in Portland, Oregon, I’m not making any long term plans.
In my other home, the third tier “professional” soccer team, Plymouth Argyle, are insolvent. In American sports, this wouldn’t matter; when was the last time a major league baseball, football, or basketball team was allowed to go bust? In Britain, it can, and does, happen; the most recent example being Scottish club Gretna FC who folded in 2008. Argyle need at minimum something around £750,000 by February to pay their tax bill to the Inland Revenue, otherwise they appear to be done. Indeed, Argyle face three concurrent “winding up orders” and require between £3 and £4 million by February to clear their immediate debts. The board is in chaos, the staff (including the players) haven’t been paid on time for the second straight month, gates are significantly down from last year due to their relegation to the third division and their (charitably) mediocre play in said division, are under a transfer embargo by the league thus preventing them from so much as retaining a decent player on-loan from Chelsea, and they will certainly be forced to sell their two best players this January in order to possibly stay afloat. In addition to selling off their best players, thus enhancing the probability of a second successive relegation, there’s talk of selling the stadium to property developers.
UPDATE: less than 24 hours after writing this, a bid has been accepted for winger Craig Noone. As he’s in his final contract year, and the bidding team is fellow League – 1 side Brighton, the transfer fee won’t clear the tax debt.
Matt Slater at the BBC has the most comprehensive overview on the causes of what could be the end of a 124 year-old club. Fans have taken matters into their own hands by setting up a supporters’ trust, in part organized by my student and friend John Petrie. Ironically, Argyle’s Devon rivals Exeter City were saved from liquidation in 2003 by a similar trust, so there might be hope yet. (Of course, it should be noted that when Exeter City drew 0-0 with Manchester United in the 2005 FA Cup at Old Trafford, the £675,000 cash infusion from the 67,000+ gate did not hurt City’s chances of financial survival).
Back in April, I posted here about how Argyle were officially relegated following their 0-2 loss to Newcastle United at Plymouth. I had experienced a couple promotion seasons in Plymouth, that was my first relegation season. Now, being relegated following a match against Newcastle United, or even Huddersfield Town, looks a lot more enticing than experiencing a rare, entirely possible, liquidation season.
And finally, there’s the small matter of my alma mater, the Oregon of the North, playing in the much vaunted Holiday Bowl in San Diego against 17th ranked Nebraska, tomorrow. I’m certain that Nebraska are all aflutter with the privilege and honor of playing Washington. I’m equally certain that Nebraska’s 56-21 victory in the third game of the season has absolutely no bearing on the outcome of the bowl game.
Umm, go Huskies.