Off the Fence: Penny Mordaunt

Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt
Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt
European workers including nurses, social workers and teaching assistants protest outside the Houses of Parliament in London before lobbying MPs over their right to remain in the UK.  Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

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By the time you read this article, we’ll already know whether Portsmouth has been named Sport England’s City of Football.

I hope we’re celebrating well-deserved success, but whatever the outcome there can be no doubt about it – Portsmouth is a city of football.

When the call came to save their club, Portsmouth residents past and present rallied to the cause. We put our money into the club because we believe in it as a Portsmouth institution and that faith has been repaid by PFC under the control of the supporters’ trust.

In its new supporter-owned guise, the club has been eager to put back into the community which saved it. It has built a rapport with schools and employers and with the city’s institutions – the university, the council and the Royal Navy.

Over the past year the club has held jobs fairs, engaged fully in the National Citizenship Programme and hosted networking events for prospective investors in Portsmouth’s shipyard. In each of these activities the goodwill felt for the club has been used to positive effect elsewhere in the community: people trust the club and set store by its endorsement.

Portsmouth FC has ceased to be simply a sporting entity and has placed itself at the core of the city for which it plays.

The accolade of ‘City of Football’ would be no more than the club and city deserve for all that has already been achieved, and it would wear the mantle with pride and distinction.

But whether or not our city now holds this honour, it will continue to be a voice for supporters in the affairs of their clubs and for the good that clubs can do in their communities.

Portsmouth has achieved remarkable things and, whatever the outcome of Sport England’s competition, I’m sure this footballing city will achieve many more remarkable things for fans and residents in the years ahead.