Delving into the facts behind Eisner’s Pompey bid

Michael Eisner
Michael Eisner
Pompey boss Kenny Jackett. Picture: Sarah Standing (170841)

Pompey encouraged by player interest

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The sneering tone from the comment’s delivery was unmistakable, despite emanating from a Tweet.

‘Fans running a club doesn’t work,’ wrote West Ham co-chairman David Gold, three months after Pompey came under community ownership.

‘They sit down at a meeting with a plan to design a horse and end up with a camel’.

During the subsequent four years, the Blues have settled debts, established themselves as self-sufficient and reached League One.

An outcome to give pompous doubters such as Gold the hump.

Yet a week tomorrow, the Fratton faithful can opt to relinquish Fratton Park control in favour of Michael Eisner’s Tornante investment group.

Having been granted exclusivity on March 22, Pompey Supporters’ Trust members and shareholders will today be privy to the full details of the bid.

The 48-page information pack, titled ‘Proposed sale of PST shares’, will drop on the doormats of many supporter homes. Tonight it was released online.

It reveals Tornante value Pompey, who next season will be classified as a League One club, at £5.67m.

Priced at £1,000 a share, that sum will capture the total 5,673 shares in the club. Considering the Trust cannot distribute profits to its members, each of its 2,750 shares will warrant an immediate cash payment.

In addition, Tornante have pledged to provide a further £10m of equity investment into the club.

Finally, they will meet obligations to Portpin should the club reach the Premier League before June 2024.

The necessity of Fratton Park safety work means Tornante must swiftly allocate half of their initial £10m investment for ‘major stadium infrastructure issues’.

The Presidents’ Advisory Board states, on page 35, that ‘...three separate independent surveys have identified the need for at least £5m to be spent in the next five years just to ensure that Fratton Park meets basic H&S requirements’.

Meanwhile, the PCFC Executive Statement warns: ‘In the event of stadium safety work being delayed and/or being unfunded, in the interest of fan safety and security there is a strong possibility the capacity at Fratton Park would have to be reduced by the Licensing Authority to allow the stadium to remain open’.

There is approximately £900,000 remaining in the Escrow Account from the Tesco deal.

The Trust propose to fund such work through a combination of the Tesco money, a new Trust share issue and more president contributions – ‘safety critical maintenance can be afforded as well as a significant amount of the general maintenance’.

A recent survey of members indicated 468 people would definitely buy a new community share, while 886 responded with ‘probably’.

The Trust estimate a full rebuild of Fratton park would cost at least £50m, utilising a phased programme of development. However, it stresses ‘There is no commitment from Tornante to carry out this work’.

As previously revealed in The News, Tornante do not want fan representation on the club board.

Instead, they pledge to create a heritage and advisory board, meeting quarterly to deliver recommendations to the club board.

According to Tornante’s Terms Sheet (page 13), specific areas for ‘discussion and consideration’ include ticket pricing, on-field performance, stadium development plans and any proposed material change or redesign of the Pompey crest.

The nine-strong board will consist of three Trust members, three presidents, two Tornante representatives and the club’s chief executive and finance officer.

In addition, the group will be issued a veto on matters such as a club name change, altering the principal colours of the first-team home strip, or relocating the stadium to a location 15 miles or more from Fratton Park.

During negotiations, the Trust have also pushed for the inclusion of a veto over any changes to the club crest.

This has been rejected ‘...because of concerns Tornante have over the ownership of intellectual property in the crest, they need to reserve rights in this context as they may need to “augment” the crest’ (page 29).

In addition, the Trust have failed to obtain ‘assurances over any intentions to separate assets, such as the stadium, from the company that operates the club’.

History shows fans defeated Portpin in court four years ago to reunite Fratton Park with Pompey.

According to page 22 of the Trust board statement: ‘Tornante have stated they wish to have full flexibility in these areas and will consider what mechanisms to use at the time according to a range of factors.’

With the Blues next season competing in League One, the Trust recommend season ticket increases of £50 and standard match-day price rises of £5, increasing income by £500,000.

Yet, according to the Executive Statement, under the existing ownership model, Pompey’s provisional playing budget will be £3m – below the current League One average of £3.3m.

The club are next term budgeting for £300,000 losses, based on average attendances of 16,700 and an approximate 15-per-cent ticket-price increase.

Meanwhile, it is estimated an investment of £2.76m is required over the next two League One seasons to plug debts, including stadium repairs.

The Executive Statement also claims there will be ‘Stand Still scenarios’ with no additional investment in the Academy, training ground and club infrastructure (page 40).

Interestingly, there is no recommendation by the presidents, Trust or executive. ‘The PST board have considered the offer in detail and could not arrive at a consensus on it. Accordingly, we also have no specific recommendation to make – one way or another – on how you should vote’.

And following next Thursday’s Guildhall meeting, fans’ voices will be heard from May 6 until May 19.