PETER Reid knew something was up at Plymouth Argyle when the club’s credit card was declined as he tried to buy a flight back to the south coast a few days after accepting the job as manager.

Sold the vision of a prosperous, upwardly mobile club on his arrival at Home Park in June 2010, it took just a few days for the former Wanderers star to realise things were not as they should be.

Finances quickly began to unravel and Reid was forced to sell several players to keep the club afloat. He could not, however, stop Argyle from officially entering into administration the following March – a spell he describes as one of the most difficult in nearly 30 years in the dugout.

“You wouldn’t believe how quickly it turned,” he told The Bolton News. “I’d gone in and met with Sir Roy Gardiner, who had been a director at Manchester United, and he was talking about a new stadium to coincide with the England World Cup bid.

“Everything looked great on the surface. It’s a big club, big fanbase, and there were some very good players in there. I just didn’t know at the time it was about to go bad.”

Administration was triggered by a £300,000 debt owed to HMRC but – as Wanderers know only too well from their recent history – the months prior to official insolvency brought a litany of problems.

“We started hearing about wage deferrals, people weren’t getting their money,” said Reid. “It was so difficult because you were talking about people with mortgages, people losing their jobs all over the place. It was tough watching things sink to the bottom so quickly.”

Reid sold a raft of talent and even dug into his own pocket to pay some club bills as he fought in vain to keep the club away from relegation.

“There were some good young players – David Button, Yannick Bolasie, Craig Noone. I had Bradley Wright-Phillips scoring goals.

“We sold Ashley Barnes to Brighton. It was almost like starting from scratch, really.

“It really shouldn’t happen to a club because it just rips the soul out.”

Reid scored his first professional goal for Wanderers at Plymouth in October 1975, where two more from Neil Whatmore earned Ian Greaves’ side a 3-2 win.

“I was always taken by the passion of the fans down there,” he said. “It was one of the few places that you’d travel on the Thursday, train, and then do the rest of the journey on the Friday.

“They were a decent team. I remember Paul Mariner playing for them and Ian Greaves trying to sign him.”

These days, Plymouth – visitors to the UniBol this afternoon in the first round of the FA Cup – are rebuilding in the fourth tier and backed by US businessman Simon Hallett. They are also managed by another man who knows about working at a club in crisis.

Ryan Lowe took Bury up last season despite the financial wheels falling off at Gigg Lane in spectacular fashion – two successive owners responsible for the club’s sad and abrupt expulsion from the EFL, the reasons for which are now subject to parliamentary debate.

Reid has little hesitance apportioning who should shoulder the blame.

“The EFL has got to be held responsible,” he said. “It’s a fact of life that they make the rules, so the buck stops with them.

“I couldn’t believe what was going on with Bolton and Bury in the summer. Obviously, people know what I feel about Bolton, and the fact I’ve lived here most of my life, but it gutted me to see a great club like Bury get to that stage. I hope they can come back again.”

Bury’s place in the FA Cup first-round draw was forfeited, leaving non-league Chichester with a bye to the second round. What stage they enter next season’s competition – and in what guise – remains to be seen.

“It won’t be easy for them,” reasoned Reid. “Once you go down to the non-league it’s a huge job to get back to the league and I hope they put a manager in there who knows what he’s doing.

“If they have to start from the very bottom then the one thing they have got going for them is a huge fanbase at that level of football. That is a solid base to work off, so I really wish them well.”

Peter Reid was talking in association with Tote Ten To Follow.