Simon Hallett reveals progress in quest for new Plymouth Argyle investor

Simon Hallett is now hopeful a deal can be struck to bring new investors into Plymouth Argyle within the next couple of months.

The process has taken longer than the Pilgrims' majority owner and chairman had hoped, who first spelled out at the start of last season he was looking for extra financial support for the Championship club. However, Hallett has revealed that 'talks have accelerated in the last couple of weeks' and he is feeling more confident about a successful outcome.

The additional funding from a new investor would be used for infrastructure projects at Home Park, such as potentially 'filling in the corners' at either end of the Mayflower Grandstand, and new head coach Wayne Rooney's first team squad.

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On the search for a new investor, Hallett told Plymouth Live: "We are making very good progress now. We have got a pipeline with two or three in now, at least one of which is extremely promising.

"We can't say anything while negotiations are going on but talks have accelerated in the last couple of weeks and I'm very pleased about it. I'm now hopeful we can get something done in the next couple of months.

"These things take time. There is our lawyers, there is their lawyers, there is us, there is them. Especially over the summer, people are going on vacation, there are time differences.

"It always takes longer than you think, even if the talks are completely smooth. It will take weeks; I just hope it doesn't end up taking many months."

Hallett, who succeeded James Brent as majority owner and chairman in 2019, currently owns 87 per cent of the club, with most of the other shares belonging to the United States-based Argyle Green group, whose sole managing member is Nick Giannotti.

"We have got massive plans for infrastructure investment," said Hallett. "We have got the Brickfields (Argyle's new full-time academy) that's funded, but we would also like to turn Harper's Park into a first team training centre.

"We have got work we can do at the stadium, some of which the fans are frequently asking about, but there is additional work that can be done there and around the whole of the property we now have.

"We have reunited Higher Home Park with Home Park itself. There is so much work that can be done, and I have reached the end of what I'm prepared to commit to the club so either we just carry on as we are or we need new investors.

"So that's the infrastructure. When it comes to the football squad, we are almost certain that last year we were the lowest budget in the Championship, and we avoided relegation successfully, which was terrific.

"But if we carry on as the lowest budget in the Championship it's probable that over five or six years we will get relegated again, and we have said our mission is to compete in the top half not the bottom half.

"If you compete continuously in the bottom half it's likely you are going to get relegated at some point. If you compete continuously in the top half there is a possibility you can get promoted at some point. There is certainly quite a strong probability you can end up in the play-offs, and that's where we want to be.

"That requires more spending on the first team squad on an annual basis and it requires us developing this portfolio of players that we began with last year when we put £3 million into transfer fees effectively.

"Argyle, as I have said already, is going to have to be a club that makes smart decisions. That means recruiting smartly, but then that also means letting players move on smartly.

"As I have said in the past, I don't like talking about players as if they were pure commodities. It partly depends on what's good for the players as well, but this is going to be a club that is going to be buying cheap and I hope selling dear.

"We think we are off to a very good start with that investment pool, and we would like over the next couple of years to add to that."

There have been offers of investment into Argyle but they have not been felt to be appropriate to the vision and values of the club, with Hallett believing Plymouth's location in the far south-west of England has proved to be a problem in the search.

Hallett said: "My goal is the same as James's was. James was explicit that he wanted to find a new investor who could take his approach of being a steward of the club and help it kick on. That's exactly my goal.

"We have had some offers we have turned down on the grounds that the financial structure wasn't right or there was something else wrong that we didn't think it was going to achieve our goals of providing the capital in a financially secure way over the next few years.

"I think where we are now in talks with people, they are completely consistent with our views about how the club should be run, and consistent with the values of the club, but it's not easy.

"It's not easy being in Plymouth finding investors at all, frankly. Most of the investors who come into the EFL want clubs close to London and our geography has definitely been a hindrance here, which is a shame.

"There are so many advantages to being down here that I think foreign investors don't quite appreciate. They just want proximity to the big city and to Heathrow!"