FA Chairman praises Pompey’s fan-ownership model

FA Chairman Greg Dyke, left, with Pompey chairman Iain McInnes at the Blues' 1-0 home defeat to Oxford last month    Picture: Joe Pepler

FA Chairman Greg Dyke, left, with Pompey chairman Iain McInnes at the Blues' 1-0 home defeat to Oxford last month Picture: Joe Pepler

Kyle Bennett celebrates scoring his first goal of the match during Pompey's win against Newport County. Picture: Joe Pepler.

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FA chairman Greg Dyke praised Pompey’s fan-ownership model but admitted: It is too late for all of English football to follow suit.

Dyke, who will vacate his current position in the summer, visited Portsmouth last month to help launch the FA People’s Cup.

Portsmouth is the biggest fan-owned club and I think it could show the way

FA Chairman Greg Dyke

While on the south coast, he took in the Blues’ League Two home loss to Oxford – nearly three years on from welcoming Pompey into a new fan-led era at former club Brentford.

Indeed, the Blues’ trip to Griffin Park in April 2013 marked their first under supporter ownership with Dyke the then Bees chairman.

And the 68-year-old was quick to praise the work the south-coast club has done in its proud rebuild from the verge of financial ruin.

Dyke said: ‘I remember a few years ago flying out to Portugal for the annual Football League meeting.

‘I sat next to someone on the plane and asked where she was from.

‘She said Portsmouth and that she was the only person left!

‘She had been a PA and became the secretary.

‘And then you look and I remember Portsmouth coming to Brentford on the day the fans finally took over the club.

‘There was that excitement, so it is really encouraging to see them doing well now.

‘They are having a good season and have recovered from that disastrous period.’

Dyke, though, believes English football has missed the opportunity for fans to be involved in the ownership of all clubs.

He feels it’s unrealistic to follow German football’s 50+1 rule, where a minimum of 51-per-cent of the club must be owned by club members.

Instead, League Two Pompey lead the way with Dyke adamant the Blues can show others the virtues of fan ownership.

‘Look at Germany and 51-per-cent of clubs are owned by the fans,’ he said.

‘I am afraid we missed that opportunity at some stage in this country.

‘I don’t think that is a realistic opportunity again.

‘Portsmouth is the biggest fan-owned club and I think it could show the way.

‘But to be successful, you’ve got to budget properly.

‘Fan-owned clubs are not like half the clubs around where there is always some rich person putting money in.

‘It is not like that, there is a different structure.

‘But I think for a club the size of Portsmouth it is possible.

‘It is a big club and can still get big gates as I saw against Oxford.’

While Pompey may still be able to attract big gates, so-called bigger clubs are often quick to try to entice talented youngsters away.

Dyke, however, disagrees with the idea of kids going to Premier League clubs and has the statistics to back it.

He said: ‘The weird thing is that there are some clubs where I would advise kids not to go to.

‘I am not going to name, them because, even though they might get well paid, actually they are better to go to Portsmouth.

‘If they go there and do alright they are going to get some games at 18 or 19.

‘The real problem with English football now is the best kids go to the biggest clubs, who are the least likely to play them!

‘Actually, it is all about games between 18-21.

‘Patrick Vieira, who works for Man City Academy wrote a piece recently calling for B teams – well I tried to push B teams and got shot down by everybody, including Portsmouth!

‘But the truth is that unless you can get kids games, you are not going to get the next generation of kids coming through.

‘So I would say to a kid from around here, rather than going to some of the big London clubs, go to Portsmouth because they will get games there.

‘I saw some figures the other day that showed at Premier League academies 70-per-cent of the kids who sign at 16 as scholars are out of football by the time they are 20.

‘They should have gone to Portsmouth where they might have given them a chance!’

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