The fans’ voice must be listened to

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WE will be ready – that’s the message from Pompey fans fighting to safeguard the future of their club.

It was a defiant message sent straight to Andrew Andronikou, the joint-administrator of Pompey’s parent company CSI.

Mr Andronikou is being urged to meet with a united group of fans, politicians and businessmen who are all fighting together for Pompey.

The move was agreed at a meeting organised by The News yesterday and involved leaders of the Portsmouth Supporters Trust, local businessmen, Portsmouth City Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson and Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage.

Representatives at the meeting said that it was time for a clear message to be sent to the administrators of Pompey’s parent company that the wishes of supporters had to be recognised.

Members of the trust have been talking to prospective buyers and stressing that involvement by fans is central to the long-term success of football in the city.

They say they have been shut out from talks with the administrators.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson said that would be easier if a delegation met Mr Andronikou to seek further information and to impress on him the part supporters could play.

Delegates at the meeting said that there could be more openness in the way the administrator operated.

The two-hour meeting focused on work done so far by the trust to achieve community ownership or involvement in the club, which faces a winding-up petition hearing in the High Court on February 20.

Subjects raised at the meeting included the ‘Plan B’ option, which would kick in if Portsmouth Football Club was liquidated as a result of the taxman’s application to the court over an unpaid £800,000 tax bill – a bill that will rise to £1.6m at the end of this month.

Trust representatives stressed that this was very much the last option.

Pompey Supporters’ Trust chairman Ashley Brown said: ‘A lot of what we’re doing is planning a preparation, such as cash flow projections and the legal aspects.’

Delegates at the meeting felt it was important that Mr Andronikou met politicians and fans as the trust explored ways of becoming involved in a successful bid from a viable purchaser.

Mr Brown, added: ‘The meeting was a useful exercise for the opportunity to sit down with like-minded people with an interest in securing the long-term future of Pompey.

‘We recognise there may not be anything miraculous with what we can do but at least there are people working hard to do their best for football in the city.’

Trust representatives said they continued to speak to potential purchasers and they hoped any would-be buyer would see the advantage of working with fans to forge a successful bid.

The meeting concluded that it was unlikely that any pressure put on the government would lead to the taxman relaxing his demands.

It was agreed that any decision on a call for fans and the community to invest cash in Pompey’s future was not likely to be made until the immediate future of the club became clear.

The focus would continue on the Pack the Park initiative to fill Fratton Park for the upcoming matches against Hull City on Saturday, February 4 and Ipswich Town on Tuesday, February 14.

Trust member and local businessman Mick Williams added: ‘Our message, whatever happens on February 20, is that we are ready.’