Catlin delight at new Pompey training home

Chief executive Mark Catlin, centre, with director Mick Williams and Pompey boss Andy Awford
Chief executive Mark Catlin, centre, with director Mick Williams and Pompey boss Andy Awford
Matty Kennedy. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Mark Catlin believes Pompey are finally in the process of putting down some roots in the heart of the city after unveiling the plans for their new training ground.

The club signed a 30-year lease to make Roko in Hilsea their new training base, with plans to move in when it is ready at some point later in the year.

While that timescale is flexible and looks unlikely to happen in time for the start of the new season, Pompey’s first team should be at their new home within a matter of months.

While cynics will point to previous failed training ground schemes, the key difference this time around is that work has most definitely already begun, with an irrigation system being installed during yesterday’s unveiling.

More than £500,000 has already been set aside for the development.

And there is the option to extend in the future, with at least two further playing surfaces available and potentially more buildings to add to the complex.

And with two-and-a-half pitches already secured and being prepared, at long last, chief executive Catlin said the club will finally have their own training facility that they can call their own.

‘It’s happening – it’s actually happening,’ said Catlin.

‘Work has been going on for six weeks now so this isn’t a dream.

‘The contracts have been signed and we are tied in for 30 years.

‘It’s a high six-figure sum, upwards of £500,000. It’s a significant investment.

‘And the work has started. People can see for themselves.

‘Everything is signed, the money is in the bank ready for the project, and as soon as we get planning permission, which should be about eight to 12 weeks, we can get going with the rest of it.

‘But it’s clear to see for everyone that work on the pitches has already started because we don’t need planning permission for that.’

It is a big step towards righting a wrong that was so criminally ignored during the heady days of the Premier League revenue.

Instead of building their own facility, back then the Pompey strategy was to plough the money into the first team and continue to rent their training base in Eastleigh.

In fairness, plans were made for sites at both Cherque Farm in Lee-on-the-Solent and Titchfield, Fareham, although neither of them came to fruition.

But Catlin refused to dwell on the past mistakes that were made.

He said: ‘It’s incredible that a club of our stature doesn’t have its own training ground, whether that is two pitches down the local park or a nice facility like this.

‘We need somewhere to call our own and that we can use exclusively.

‘I try not to keep going back over the past, to be honest.

‘We are where we are, we knew what we inherited and we are dealing with that now.

‘I think we are doing a pretty good job dealing with it.

‘Now the lease is for at least the next 30 years and that is a long time.

‘We didn’t want to be spending a lot of money and then in three or four years there would be an option that we could leave. So it was important that we had the security of the 30-year lease.

‘It is a home and we won’t be having to leave in the near future.’