Plymouth Argyle president backs Plymouth Albion's fight for survival
THE president of Plymouth Argyle has backed Albion supporters in their fight for the rugby club's survival.
The cash-strapped Championship outfit needs to find just under £100,000 if it to keep going until the end of August.
Albion fans have already mobilised to form a new supporters club, which has gathered more than 100 members within days of being set up.
And Argyle president Chris Webb, who spearheaded Pilgrims supporters' efforts to keep the city's football club afloat during its own financial crisis, said 'fan power' cannot be underestimated.
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Former Argyle Fans' Trust chairman Mr Webb said: "They are doing exactly the right thing in setting up a supporters club, and any advice they need I'm more than happy to give. The most important thing they can do is believe in themselves.
"Plymouth Albion is a club worth saving."
Collapsing attendances have been a major problem at the Brickfields, where a £250,000 financial black hole opened up.
But supporters pledged £130,000 to keep the club out of administration at an emergency shareholders' meeting earlier this month.
Albion chairman Dr Graham Stirling told The Herald the fundraising total had now hit £152,000. He said: "We're getting a very encouraging response but the efforts must continue.
"We were obviously delighted with the performance of the team and the result against Leeds [on Saturday]; it came about at the right time and lifted everyone's spirits.
"It's very important that we do achieve the target. We continue to push on all fronts."
The Plymouth Albion Supporters Club's first chair, Lesley Olney, said the fledgling group had doubled its membership at Saturday's home clash with Leeds Carnegie, raising £1,000 of donations in the process.
"It's absolutely fantastic to see it take off," Miss Olney said. "It's not about the thousands, it's about every penny and every little bit that can help."
The club is offering season-long membership for £10 and meets in the supporters' marquee after each remaining home match, where people can join.
If Albion's board fails to raise enough money to ensure the team's survival, cash raised by the supporters will be used to form a trust and hardship fund. The supporters club already has a website at www.support4PARFC.co.uk.
Mr Webb said their efforts could be crucial in securing Albion's future. He led an army of Plymouth Argyle fans who raised over £100,000 when their club was hit by administration and wage delays last year.
"The fans made a massive difference in saving Argyle, when at times it looked impossible," Mr Webb added. "If Albion supporters can unite in the same manner and challenge everything they're told then they can make the difference."
HOW TO HELP: Make a financial donation. Send cheques, payable to PARFC, to: Plymouth Albion RFC, Brickfields Recreation Ground, 25 Damerel Close, Plymouth, PL1 4NE. Donations can be made by bank transfer to: Plymouth Albion Rugby Football Club Donations, at Nat West account number 36379743, sort code 56-00-63 quoting the donor's name, followed by the word donation. Become a member – complete the online membership form at www.plymouthalbion.com. Buy or renew your debenture at a cost of £1,000 for seven years. A debenture gives you a guaranteed grandstand seat and normal entrance fees apply. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.