Balance sheets and profit and loss forecasts – a wonderful new transparent world for Pompey fans

Ashley Brown addresses Pompey fans at the Trust AGM back in September of last year. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (123162-5)
Ashley Brown addresses Pompey fans at the Trust AGM back in September of last year. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (123162-5)

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Ashley Brown rose to his feet and thanked Iain McInnes for putting £250 behind the Rifle Club bar for the night.

There was applause from the 48 people in attendance, although McInnes himself, described as a high-net-worth investor, was not present.

Brown then revealed his understanding that administrators PKF now preferred Portpin to buy Pompey out of administration.

Such a status had been reported by The News numerous times, yet – until that very moment – no-one of substance had gone on the record with such details to admit the fact.

The crowd sat stunned, defeat was in the air, and talk turned to how best to handle such crucial developments in the Portsmouth Supporters’ Trust’s battle to seize control.

Brown, as Trust chairman, asked those members in front of him whether a pressure group should be formed or, alternatively, they could work with Portpin.

On a show of hands, a few felt the Trust should sit down with Balram Chainrai, Levi Kushnir & Co for talks.

The remainder believed the Trust should continue to fight.

That was September 27, 2012 – a year ago yesterday. The occasion was the Trust’s third AGM, with Brown and the board reporting back to its members.

Days before that meeting, Chainrai had delivered gloating words.

The Trust’s bid had ‘no substance’ and it would fail due to ‘in-fighting and lack of actual money’.

Quite which mole had leaked such sensitive information to the dastardly rivals will perhaps never be established – if Chainrai was actually basing his assumptions on anything at all. Nonetheless, the Hong Kong businessman was turning the screw.

Still, last Monday, a year on, Brown was centre stage at the Trust’s AGM once more. This time McInnes was in attendance, although no money had been put behind the bar.

And the venue was the Victory Bar which is now, after all, owned by the Trust and club presidents.

It was 12 months ago when the ambitions appeared ruined but, aided by the fans, Portsmouth City Council, the Football League and property developer Stuart Robinson, the Trust turned it around to defeat Portpin.

To date, the Trust own £2,412,000 worth of shares in the club, giving them a healthy stake of 59.3 per cent.

The presidents – of which there are 12, including McInnes and Robinson – account for the remaining 40.7 per cent with an investment of £1,655,000.

In total, the share capital presently invested in Portsmouth Football Club is £4,067,000.

Monday’s AGM was attended by more than 200 supporters, many of whom were at the forefront of the charge to victory, former board members, the chiefs of those SOS Pompey rebel rousers, those meddling Pompey bloggers, a Verisona lawyer and even Twitter favourite @notBaluChainrai.

Yet everyone present had played their part to ensure the fourth AGM since the Trust’s February 2010 formation was held as club owners rather than pretenders to the crown.

Early proceedings would signal the introduction of the new board and the chance to vote on a special resolution and two motions.

Then there was the release of financial information solely reserved for shareholders rather than the consumption of the general public.

Except, now as shareholders and majority ones at that, Trust members are granted such access, pouring over the results of five month’s worth of community ownership.

Finance director Tony Brown took the audience through a presentation journey of profit-and-loss sheets, balance sheets, profit-and-loss forecasts and analysis – a rare entrance by fans into such a field.

Next, chief executive Mark Catlin and engagement manager Micah Hall explained the changes to the club’s fabric since taking over on April 19, pinpointing kit deals, retail operations, sponsorship agreements, season-tickets sales and the Academy.

As for the figures, they made better reading than many anticipated.

A commercial income of £1,296,000 is forecast by June next year – a difference of £752,366 in the budgeted £543,634 drawn up by the club.

The budgeted turnover of £4,054,479 is now forecast as £5,270,000, helping influence forecast first-year losses to £713,955.

That is currently a difference of £251,279 to budgeted losses of £965,234.

The sponsorship with Sondico has so far brought £205,000 into the club, while Robinson’s loan (South Point Finance) was worth £1,357,288 and the council’s loan £1,615,819.

As of June 30, 2013, there was £7,089,256 owed to former players, plus £963,840 in historic transfer fees to clubs, with a total parachute payment income of £9,725,652.

There have been 10,650 season tickets sold, of which £1.4m in cash had been received by June 30, 2013.

Finally, the players’ payroll represents 27 per cent of total income, with the League Two salary cap at 55 per cent.

Plenty of information, perhaps too much for the fans who just want to cheer their side on at weekends.

But this is what transparency is all about.

And 12 months ago in the Rifle Club, nobody was foreseeing that outcome at Pompey.