I’ve not blogged recently on the Pompey basket case. Not because there wasn’t much happening, but rather because there has been almost too much happening to stop and take a coherent view. In fact, the last time I posted was back in March 2011, when I commented “Portsmouth City Football Club Ltd. is dead – long live Portsmouth Football Club (2010) Ltd.!” (1), and it reads today like some historical piece, and at least a tad ironic to boot – the tagline was “Onward and upward at Portsmouth?”
The announcement that a conditional sale to the Pompey Supporters Trust has been agreed (2) brings at least some sort of turning point.
That the alternative bid from Balram Chainrai was turned down by the Administrator can only be good news – just how many times can the same person ‘save’ a club? Trevor Birch’s choice may or may not have been influenced by the blogs of Micah Hall (3), but certainly the lack of response to the questions Micah posed to Tavistock Communications, Portpin’s PR company, spoke volumes. Micah’s digging deserves an award, and shows how far a fan can go in the bigger picture of financial decision-making.
The fly in the ointment of the sale is, of course, the issue of the value that Chainrai is trying to place on Fratton Park. Unless he finally decides to bow out gracefully, accepting that he made a very bad business call, the matter will go to court. With independent valuations at a much lower level, the Trust stands a very good chance of getting the desired result.
There is also the matter of a potential further ten points deduction on coming out of Administration. Here I am less optimistic. I fear it will be yet more evidence that the deduction of points is an entirely dysfunctional sanction, but let’s not burn our bridges before we come to them.
All-in-all, there does finally seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel, and this hopefully will prove a turning point in the club’s miserable fortunes.
In the bigger picture, it may well prove to be a turning point in the road to fan ownership of clubs. It does need to be seen though as one of many turning points, as I’m sure Brentford. Chester, Exeter Wrexham, and Wimbledon fans, and that’s not a definitive list, would be quick to point out. It’s significance will depend on how well the hybrid model involving High Net Worth Individuals will work in practice. If it does work, it will doubtless encourage the Supporters Trusts at bigger clubs such as Liverpool, Manchester United and Newcastle.
As a member of the Pompey Supporters Trust, I feel considerably more confident regarding the future than I have for a very long time. I’ve even put a bottle of bubbly in the fridge, but I’ll not actually open it though until Fratton Park is in the fans’ hands. The only certainty is the debt of gratitude Pompey fans owe to the PST Board. Let’s show our gratitude by uniting behind them.