Why Plan B can never be dismissed

Steve's baby daughter made amazing progress this week, or so his wife thought

STEVE CANAVAN: It was a lot of rattle over just a little roll

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Nobody wants Plan B.

Let’s make that abundantly clear.

Not even those painstakingly putting the project together want such a concept to ever see the light of day.

Yet in Pompey times such as these it is a necessity to look ahead.

Plan B represents the last resort, a panic button to hammer on when no hope is left.

Nonetheless, if this city is to retain a football club it is a potential last-gasp winner.

Pompey are closer to the grave than ever before

A court hearing with HMRC has been scheduled for Monday, February 20.

Conceivably, Portsmouth Football Club could be wound up on that very day.

The fact the club are also repeat offenders in terms of missing tax payments will also not stand in their favour as the judge faces a massive call.

A gloomy outlook, certainly, and every Blues fan must be realistic during such fraught times.

And that is where Plan B comes in. A Pompey Supporters’ Trust initiative, it would involve giving the city a football club as soon as next season.

Hardly a like-for-like replacement.

That would be an impossibility considering the overwhelming history of the current Pompey.

More a little brother to keep the flag flying and preserve football in these parts of the south coast.

Created by Pompey fans for Pompey fans – and free from the icy grip of those responsible for the elder club’s demise.

How we would all embrace being rid of such characters who continue to haunt the Fratton Park corridors.

But, understandably, the cost is a big one.

It is an unpalatable thought, yet it’s a proposal which rightly is being thoroughly explored.

Of course, Plan B is still in its infancy.

The league any newly-created Pompey team would compete in and the ground they would use are still unknown.

However, the momentum is already there to ensure there is a contingency plan in place.

Interestingly, the proposals were initially drawn up the last time Pompey staggered towards oblivion.

Back in December 2009, HMRC presented a winding-up petition during the days of Ali Al Faraj’s ownership.

It prompted the formation of a steering committee seeking to introduce a supporters’ trust.

As part of that committee, the likes of Brendon Bone and Neil Oakshott were helped by Rob Haines, Mike Hall, Ken Malley and Colin Farmery in the creation of a Plan B.

It was later mothballed once the CVA was agreed five months later.

After all, we were repeatedly told this would never happen, that new company PFC 2010 were on a firm footing, that the club was officially now self-sufficient.

And why would anyone have reason to doubt such reassurances?

Then a tax bill deadline was missed eight days ago for a second-successive month and it has all come crashing down once again.

Time to take that Plan B out of storage, dust it down and start putting matters into motion.

The ground work put in by Bone and Oakshott will be the model for the latest airing.

The new Plan B group is being headed by Scott Mclachlan, aided by Tom Dearie, Malley and Dan Fearnley.

And the Trust quartet are already busy behind the scenes looking at the possibility.

So when can a Plan B come into action?

Well, should Pompey be liquidated an application needs to be made to join the football pyramid.

That would require submitting between 14-21 days to qualify as a ‘continuation’ club.

This would then be assessed by the Football Association and the Football League.

In addition, any submission must include proof of a ground, proof of sufficient funds for the first year and a workable business plan.

Looking at previous cases, the maximum drop for a reformed club has been three leagues, although there is no definitive rule.

The issue of where such a club could play their games is, of course, a key one.

Balram Chainrai, below, continues to have a charge over Fratton Park.

Should there be liquidation, however, he would relinquish such ownership.

Instead it would revert to the official receiver, who will be instructed to sell it to the highest bidder.

For any potential buyer, though, there is a Portsmouth City Council stipulation that the site is retained for ‘sporting use’.

A blow then for any property developer wishing to build on Fratton Park.

Then again, an appeal could be lodged with the secretary of state to reverse such a claim – and the council could do nothing.

The alternative would be to sell the ground into a sports group – and how many of those within the city other than a new football team would be interested in Fratton Park?

Yet that is all it is at the moment surrounding Plan B – speculation.

The truth is, at this moment in time the details are understandably rather sketchy.

The hearing which could finish off Pompey is not due to take place for another three weeks.

Time then to continue looking into the Plan B concept by the Trust.

The target for the majority of paperwork to be finalised by is the HMRC hearing.

In the meantime, the fans are rallying round the club magnificently.

The Trust’s 12th Man initiative has been tremendously received, while the Pack the Park campaign is designed to get fans to return for forthcoming Fratton matches.

Together supporters can unite and attempt to save the football club.

Of course, that remains the prime objective of every single Blues follower.

At all costs, Portsmouth Football Club must survive.

Yet amid it all, a group are busily putting together a safety net.

Let us all hope and pray their work shall never see the light of day.

That would mean the club and its wonderful history would still be in existence.

Just in case, though, there is a Plan B. And who knows, in three weeks time we could all be embracing such a proposal.