Bid to make Portsmouth the UK’s City of Football gathers pace

Andy Awford and Mark Catlin with the group.'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (142009-2)
Andy Awford and Mark Catlin with the group.'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (142009-2)
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CITY leaders, members of the Royal Navy and local business representatives have gathered together to show their support for Portsmouth’s bid to become the City of Football.

As reported in The News, Portsmouth has been shortlisted as one of the final three cities after applying to Sport England to win the accolade.

The successful bid will see £1.6m awarded to a single city over two years to increase the number of people playing football.

Yesterday, Fratton Park played host to the Portsmouth Consortium meeting, where people gathered in groups to discuss ideas to help win the bid, which is likely to be decided in September.

Sport England wants the shortlisted cities to show how they intend to boost participation in football, especially those aged between 14 and 25.

David Williams is the chief executive of Portsmouth City Council. He said: ‘We have had a lot of support and encouragement from Sport England and the FA. They think what we are doing in the city is fantastic but they would like us to be that little bit bolder and have more off-the-wall ideas about how to increase participation in the city.

‘The turnout has been brilliant. We have got representatives from all over the city.’

Councillor Linda Symes is the cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport. She said: ‘It’s so important to get children out of their homes, off their consoles and computers and get them to engage in sport early.

‘Everyone is coming up with different ideas. It’s getting communities to work together to benefit all the children.’

Warrant Officer Paul Nash is based at Portsmouth Naval Base and was representing the Royal Navy. He said: ‘As it’s a Portsmouth community project, the Royal Navy plays a massive part in the community and hopefully we can help towards Portsmouth securing the bid.

‘We want to help promote fitness which is a fundamental element of being in the navy.’

Ashley Brown, chairman of the Pompey Supporters Trust, said: ‘This shows more about the support of the city than anything.

‘We already know that we are the city of football. The great thing about these sorts of events is you begin to pull together ideas from all sorts of people.

‘What we want to do is involve as many different people as possible to contribute towards this bid.’

Pompey in the Community is heading up the submission and the consortium involves Portsmouth Football Club, The News, The University of Portsmouth, the Royal Navy and Portsmouth City Council. The other cities in the running are Nottingham and Manchester.

If you would like to help with the bid or have ideas, contact Pompey in the Community’s Clare Martin on (023) 9272 8899 or e-mail clare.martin@pompeyitc.org.uk