Roy Gardner (businessman)

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Sir Roy Alan Gardner (born 20 August 1945) is a British businessman and former director of Manchester United and most recently Plymouth Argyle. Gardner is notable for his involvement in the sale of Manchester United to American businessman Malcolm Glazer and his controversial spell as chairman of Plymouth Argyle, which resulted in the club entering administration with debts of over £17 million and accusations of financial mismanagement.[1]

Early life[edit]

Born in Brentford, he was the eldest son of a carpenter, Roy Thomas Gardner, and his wife Iris Joan (née Paine) and was brought up in Middlesex and Surrey in humble surroundings. He initially wanted to be a professional footballer. He went to Strode's School (a grammar school, and became Strode's College in 1975) in Surrey. In the holidays he worked at Wall's.


BAC and GEC[edit]

He started his career at the British Aircraft Corporation through their accounting apprentice scheme, working in the Commercial Aircraft Division from 1963 to 1975. He joined Marconi Marconi Company Ltd in 1975. From 1979 to 1985, he was Group Finance Director of the Marconi Space and Defence part of the company. From January 1986 he was the Finance Director of Standard Telephones and Cables (STC plc). He became managing director of STC Communication Systems. Nortel took over STC in 1991 and he became chief operating officer of Northern Telecom Europe. He then became managing director of GEC Marconi Ltd, succeeding Arnold Weinstock from 1992 to 1994.


He joined British Gas in November 1994 as Executive Director, Finance and was involved in splitting the company into two parts. He was the Chief Executive of Centrica plc from February 1997 (when it first formed when British Gas demerged) until October 2005. Under his leadership, Centrica bought the AA. He was replaced by Sam Laidlaw.

He left to join Compass Group plc becoming non-executive chairman in July 2006. He is a Senior Adviser to Credit Suisse. He is non-executive Chairman of Connaught plc. He has also chaired the Apprenticeship Ambassadors Network since December 2002. He is a Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, the Royal Aeronautical Society, and the Royal Society of Arts. He is a companion of the Chartered Management Institute. In June 2007 he became President of the Energy Institute. In 2008 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Thames Valley University.

Manchester United[edit]

He is the former chairman of Manchester United plc. He resigned soon after Malcolm Glazer took over control of the club and made the club private, as chairmen are not required in private limited companies. The other independent non-executive directors also resigned, for the same reason.

Plymouth Argyle[edit]

In July 2009, Gardner and business partner Keith Todd secured ownership of 13 percent of Championship team Plymouth Argyle as part of a consortium of international and local businesses which took over the club. He stated that it was the consortium's ambition to see Argyle promoted to the English Premier League within five years. Gardner also stated that he wished to "develop a better understanding of the club's precise needs, plan to progressively increase the budget for new players, in particular as we grow the commercial income of the club".[2][3] However, he rarely attended Plymouth Argyle games in person and remained physically distanced from the club.

Gardner then went on to take part in the sale of Plymouth Argyle's main asset, its stadium Home Park to a newly formed property company named Home Park Properties which was a subsidiary of Plymouth Argyle Football Company (Holdings). The sale was deemed to have cost £7.5 million, however it was only a paper transaction, paid for by turning loans into equity claiming that such a move would increase the chances of the club acquiring loans from potential investors.[4]

Under Gardner's chairmanship, Plymouth Argyle's financial position rapidly deteriorated. The football club was issued with a number of winding up orders over unpaid taxes and debts became unsustainable .[5][6] Gardner resigned as chairman on 27 December 2010 and the club entered administration shortly afterwards.[7][8] The Guardian accused Gardner of profiting from the club's financial plight through his "Mastpoint" company, which was established to finance the development of Plymouth Argyle's stadium and surrounding land. The company also became Plymouth Argyle's largest creditor after the club entered administration.[9] The club formally exited administration on 31 October 2011 but only after Plymouth City Council agreed to re-purchase the stadium and other land belonging to the club was sold to local entrepreneur James Brent. It is unclear how much money Gardner personally received from these sales. The club was close to being liquidated after 125 years of history whilst staff had been without pay for almost a year.[10]


  1. ^ Scott, Matt (4 January 2011). "Sir Roy Gardner's late accounts cloud the Plymouth predicament". The Guardian (Guardian News and Media). Retrieved 29 August 2014. 
  2. ^ "Turning Japanese! Former Manchester United chief heads Plymouth Argyle takeover". Mail Online (Associated Newspapers). 2 July 2009. Retrieved 29 August 2014. 
  3. ^ "Sir Roy Gardner's late accounts cloud the Plymouth predicament". ESPN FC (ESPN Internet Ventures). 2 July 2009. Retrieved 29 August 2014. 
  4. ^ "Controversial sale of Home Park agreed by Argyle". The Herald (Plymouth: Local World). 1 April 2010. Retrieved 29 August 2014. 
  5. ^ "Plymouth Argyle hopes to pay off tax debt this week to avoid court". The Herald (Plymouth: Local World). 5 January 2011. Retrieved 29 August 2014. 
  6. ^ "Sir Roy Gardner resigns as Plymouth Argyle chairman". BBC Sport (British Broadcasting Corporation). 27 December 2010. Retrieved 29 August 2014. 
  7. ^ "Plymouth Argyle confirm chairman Sir Roy Gardner exit". BBC Sport (British Broadcasting Corporation). 25 January 2011. Retrieved 29 August 2014. 
  8. ^ "Sir Roy Gardner is no longer director of Plymouth Argyle". The Herald (Plymouth: Local World). 25 January 2011. Retrieved 29 August 2014. 
  9. ^ Scott, Matt (22 July 2010). "Sir Roy Gardner still profiting from Plymouth's plight". The Guardian (Guardian News and Media). Retrieved 29 August 2014. 
  10. ^ "Reprieve for Plymouth as cash-strapped Pilgrims exit administration". Mail Online (Associated Newspapers). 31 October 2011. Retrieved 29 August 2014. 

External links[edit]

News items[edit]

Business positions
New creation Centrica plc chief executive
Succeeded by
Sam Laidlaw
Preceded by
Martin Edwards
Manchester United F.C. chairman
Succeeded by
Joel and Avram Glazer
Preceded by
Paul Stapleton
Plymouth Argyle F.C. chairman
Succeeded by
Peter Ridsdale (acting)