Takeover plans are set for fans’ scrutiny

Michael Eisner
Michael Eisner
Jerry Williams at Victorious today Picture: Paul Windsor

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The fate and future of Pompey is in their hands – and now the Pompey Supporters Trust have given their thoughts on Michael Eisner’s grand plans for the club.

In response to American billionaire Mr Eisner’s exclusive interview with The News, the trust revealed there may be ‘issues’ with the businessman’s plans over the preservations of the club’s heritage and culture .

Yet the trust said ultimately it had to respect the need for confidentiality.

The former Disney chairman and chief executive revealed a great deal in his in-depth interview, including his ambition to take the club back to the heights of the Premier League, and that a heritage board would have a veto over any move of more than 15 miles from Fratton Park.

He also said that there would be no leveraged debt in his bid, but that there would be no fan representation on the board.

The trust has given little away on its position over Mr Eisner’s bid through his firm Tornante.

But it revealed a timetable has been outlined for the negotiations, and said the club may be ready for external investment to bolster its standing in the game.

It also revealed that the club have consulted with 2,000 members over the last two weeks ahead of the negotiations.

The statement said: ‘In any process such as this, confidentiality and trust are paramount, so the PST board and the club have fully respected the request from Tornante for confidentiality around their bid for Portsmouth Football Club. Further public comment from anyone on specific details would be inappropriate at this stage.

‘It is important to reiterate that the PST is a democratic organisation, owned and run by our members.

‘It is not run for profit – but to promote the best interests of the club and the community it serves.

‘We must fully understand the terms of any offer before our members can decide whether it is acceptable. This includes issues relating to the preservation of the club’s heritage and culture as well as the economic details.’

It added: ‘There is still much to be understood in any ownership debate before it can be properly assessed. Once the full terms of any offer, economic and otherwise, are published and communicated, it is clearly for the PFC shareholders (48 per cent of which are represented by the PST on behalf of its community shareholders) to decide whether to accept the bid.

‘In the view of the PST Board, the time may well be right for external investment in PFC.

‘External investment (and potentially new ownership) should be properly considered, on merit according to certain key criteria. Over the last two weeks we have consulted with our membership via a questionnaire. Over 2,200 people responded.

‘We proposed a timetable to Tornante on Tuesday for Mr Eisner to speak to our shareholders and provide more details of his bid yesterday.’

Pointing to problems with previous owners, a PST spokesman added: ‘Portsmouth Football Club is debt free, doing well on and off the field, and is an attractive proposition for investment.

‘Supporter ownership has stabilised the club, and now the fans who own the club must decide whether the bid is right for the club.

‘We have invited Mr Eisner to meet our shareholders and outline his plans.

‘Given our recent history, we hope Mr Eisner and his team will understand and respect our need for transparency, detail, and clear legal commitments to protect the club. Ultimately, it is for our fans, the people who saved the club and now own the club, to decide on its future but they can only make that decision on an informed basis. We look forward to considering any detailed offer and welcome the continued dialogue.’