The legacy of Peter Jones, a branding consultant and former Plymouth Argyle director who has died at the age of 67, survives him in lasting ways in the South West.
Even when he was at the pinnacle of his career at London advertising agencies, Peter doggedly returned to Home Park for matches whether Argyle was playing well or badly. And later on he split his time between London and Devon in order to be better able to help contribute to the sense of civic pride.
First his company came up with the strapline Britain’s Ocean City for Plymouth in 2013. It was part of a fresh new strategic plan adopted by the council emphasising the positives about the city – not least its pioneering role in marine science, its famous seafaring past and maritime heritage.
Next came the tagline Exeter Live Better. This focused on wellbeing and lifestyle. It also emphasised what a brilliant alternative the city is, thanks to its businesses, communities and education facilities.
Peter’s passion for Argyle was matched by that of his friend Michael Foot, the leader of the Labour party in the ‘eighties. Foot famously declared he had no intention of dying until the Pilgrims had made it to the Premier League. To celebrate Foot’s ninetieth birthday, Peter arranged for the left-winger to be signed on to Plymouth’s books with a 90 shirt. And when Foot died it was Peter who raised £50,000 for the memorial to him in Freedom Park in Plymouth.
It is no exaggeration to say that few people have played a more significant role in laying the foundations and shaping of the modern-day Argyle.
He was Vice-Chair under Paul Stapleton’s chairmanship, a Plymothian Board taking control of the club in 2001 when it was in the doldrums of the lowest division and no-one else seemed to care. The situation needed someone with Peter’s knowledge and farsightedness to see the unrealised potential in Argyle, something that he proceeded to take the lead in unlocking.
Returning to Home Park in 2012 for a second stint as a director, this time under James Brent’s Chairmanship, Peter was instrumental in cajoling current owner Simon Hallett to join the Board, the American-based millionaire bringing with him the much-needed investment.
Peter encouraged foresight, belief and sound management, helping steer the ailing club through two promotions in three years and establish them as a Championship club before he left the Board in 2005 when they were still on the up.
Many of the staples that Argyle fans now take for granted came from Peter – club memberships, a pro-active commercial arm, and improved communications were just three huge areas that had their genesis and early growth from Peter.
As a marketeer, Peter was involved in the long overdue and highly successful 2004 rebrand of the Football League, giving it an impetus that it retains today.
Given his track record, it was little surprise that James Brent was pleased to engage Peter’s talents as a director when he took over the club in 2011 following a bruising period of financial problems that culminated in the club’s administration and near extinction.
With ambition for Argyle still burning, Peter reignited the flames of passion for the Greens in his old schoolmate Simon Hallett – with whom he attended Home Park matches as a youngster – who joined the Board.
Hallett’s rise to the club’s chairmanship coincided with the many millions of pounds of investment that Peter realised would be needed to take Argyle back to the Championship, a position they are currently well placed to do.
Peter was a man full of passions; not just for Argyle. His knowledge of music was encyclopaedic. He loved good food, wine and entertaining. He took a keen interest in politics. He loved books and he loved Devon. He is survived by his partner, children, sister and grandchildren.
Peter Jones, former Plymouth Argyle director, 1953-2021. Died 03.12.21