EXCLUSIVE: Michael Eisner reveals Pompey ambitions

Former Disney CEO Michael Eisner, who is looking to take over Portsmouth FC.
Former Disney CEO Michael Eisner, who is looking to take over Portsmouth FC.
Thomas Juel-Nielsen in action for Pompey reserves against Everton under-23s Picture: Colin Farmery

Defender leaves Pompey

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American billionaire Michael Eisner has outlined his Pompey vision.

The former Disney chief executive remains locked in negotiations over a Fratton Park takeover.

I don’t want a contentious acquisition. I am sure there are people who don’t want this to happen – but I hope they are few and far between

Michael Eisner

Now he has broken his public silence on the reasons behind his desire to invest in the League Two promotion contenders.

Speaking exclusively to The News, Eisner revealed his aim to catapult the Blues back into the Premier League.

The 75-year-old has pledged the prospective deal through his Tornante investment company will not involve leveraged debt.

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Eisner’s blueprint also consists of remaining at Fratton Park, but carrying out extensive safety and rebuilding work.

There will also be the creation of a heritage board, possessing a veto on any attempts at changing Pompey’s name, colours or building a new home more than 15 miles from the city centre.

In addition, Pompey Supporters’ Trust shareholders stand to each receive their £1,000 back.

However, presently there are no plans for fan representation on a revamped club board.

Now Eisner is waiting for bid approval to enable him to put proposals in person to shareholders before the May 6 visit of Cheltenham.

He said: ‘I really would like everybody behind us and to feel that the stewardship is in the right hands with the goal of moving forward.

‘I don’t want a contentious acquisition. I am sure there are people who don’t want this to happen – but I hope they are few and far between.

‘The way Portsmouth and the Trust brought this team out of receivership and how they have managed it in the last four years and stuck with it is extremely impressive.

‘Yesterday we sent a document to Trevor Birch outlining our plans. Hopefully they think that is the right way to go.

‘My investment is in moving the club forward. That is a large investment and I am prepared to do that.

‘If the club’s goal is staying in League One or League Two, having it run at break even at a very low player acquisition cost, a very slow fixing of Fratton Park, maybe slightly improving the Academy, but knowing that will not take you to the Championship or Premier League – there is nothing wrong with that goal.

‘For that goal they don’t need me. But if the goal is to move up and be a challenger to get into the Championship and a challenger to get into the Premier League, then it looks to me like the club needs outside financing from someone.

‘That is the decision which needs to be voted on.

‘If I am going to do it, I have to do it in a way in which I can be successful. I don’t want to do it with handcuffs on or an impossible structure to manage. I want to do it with an ability to move quickly and fairly.

‘I have ambitions. If you are Sergio Garcia, your ambition would have been to win the Masters.

‘Yes it would be great if Portsmouth didn’t just get to the Premier League but stayed in the Premier League. Although I don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up, that could take a decade – it is not going to happen overnight.

‘People strive to get into the Premier League. You see the average losses in the Championship, people making impulsive decisions, spending outrageously and then falling on their sword, taking on a lot of debt just to get there quickly.

‘I am much happier building up the scouting, building up the Academy, slowly moving up without putting the whole business at risk.’

Eisner has attended three Fratton Park matches this season, most recently last month’s 4-0 victory over Grimsby.

He plans for his three sons to become involved in the club’s running, with New York-based Eric having watched four Fratton fixtures during the campaign.

And the American billionaire has spoken of his passion for football.

He added: ‘I grew up with my kids playing football in the American Youth Soccer Organisation, but when they became older they gravitated towards baseball, hockey and basketball. So for a long period I was not engaged in European football.

‘But then my youngest son, Anders, studied in London and I accompanied him to an Arsenal match and couldn’t believe how engaged the fans were. They weren’t just sitting back and talking to a business associate or wife about what they were having for dinner – it was an intense two hours.

‘So I became a fan of the game 20 years ago. I don’t have an understanding for it like I do American football, but I have an appreciation for it.

‘We started looking in England for a club a couple of years ago, looking in the Premier League at those who may or may not be for sale. Then I decided I would rather work my way up with a club rather than slide my way down.

‘It would be more fun and something to do with my family.’