Awford: New Pompey base is extra reason to join

Pompey boss Andy Awford, right, with club director Mick Williams, left and chief executive Mark Catlin at Roko yesterday
Pompey boss Andy Awford, right, with club director Mick Williams, left and chief executive Mark Catlin at Roko yesterday
Phil Brown. Picture: Sharon Lucey

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Andy Awford believes Pompey’s new training base will be a key factor in helping him attract players to the club.

The Blues boss yesterday helped announce the deal that will see Pompey move into their training ground at Roko, Hilsea, in the near future, after reaching an agreement over a long-term lease.

It means the club are putting down solid foundations for the future – something that Awford has long been keen to address.

But after seeing previous plans fail to become reality, he believes the new training facility will also have an impact as an extra selling point to players he is attempting to sign.

Awford said: ‘Let’s be honest, it should have been done a long time ago.

‘The Lee-on-the-Solent training ground was great but it was in the wrong location, in my opinion.

‘This place is in the city and it is five minutes from the motorway.

‘From a recruitment point of view, it helps to attract players to your club.

‘But this gives us a base and a home so well done to everybody who got us here.

‘I think the fans, the Trust members and the board can start to see some return for their money.

‘This is a foundation – not players who will be here and then gone in three or four years or a manager that will be gone in a few years.

‘This is hopefully about forever.

‘And it is not us pitching up at Roko and just using their facilities now and again.

‘This is Portsmouth Football Club’s home – it is our training ground.

‘To have our own is everything I have always wanted.

‘But as the club grows, this will grow. It doesn’t stop here.’

While it is an exciting starting point, it’s a far cry from those previous grand training ground plans that never got off the ground.

But Awford believes it gives the club plenty of scope to develop when the time is right.

He said: ‘The one at Lee-on-the-Solent was the right type of facility for a Premier League club, as we were back then with eight or nine pitches.

‘But I don’t think it was ever the right venue for us.

‘This one is a perfect site for us and we will be able to expand as and when we are ready.

‘We won’t do that until we are ready because we can’t put the club back to where it was before just yet.

‘So it’s really important that the club grows and this will grow with it.’

While Awford insists he is making progress on the recruitment front, he is keeping his cards close to his chest on current negotiations.

He said: ‘I am talking to players all the time but there is no news to report yet.

‘Nobody is imminent and that happens at this time of the year.

‘I’m not worried at all. It will happen when it happens.’