POMPEY’S owners have admitted that Fratton Park must be developed if the club plans to be a force in the future.
Convers Sports Initiatives, which has owned the Blues for the past five months, made the claim in a statement which looked back at what it had achieved at the club and what needed to be improved.
It said that while key first-team players Luke Varney, Greg Halford, Erik Huseklepp, Jason Pearce, David Norris, Stephen Henderson and Benjani had been signed, the development of a more modern stadium would be the key to the club’s success.
As reported in The News, they have also begun showdown talks with Pompey’s former owner Sacha Gaydamak over giving up ownership of the land surrounding Fratton Park.
The statement said: ‘We’re not going to make any grand statements about the ground, but we recognise the fact that the development of a more modern stadium has to be part of a successful future for the club.
‘In the first instance this means engaging with Mr Gaydamak in relation to the land surrounding Fratton Park and that process is already under way.’
Henry Churchill, 56, a programme seller for Pompey who lives in Ryde on the Isle of Wight, said: ‘It’s about time we had a new stadium.
‘Fratton Park is well over 100 years old now. As fans, we turn in day in and day out so it’s time we were rewarded with a better ground.
‘The owners should definitely look into the idea of building a new Fratton End, and turn it 90 degrees.
‘If we had a bigger ground then ticket prices would also be cheaper because the club would get a regular capacity turnout.
‘There are more than 400 Pompey fans in Ryde and many have stopped making the trip to Fratton Park because they cannot afford the ticket prices.’
Barry Dewing, a member of the Portsmouth Independent Supporters Association (Pisa), added: ‘It’s a good sign that the owners have taken this into consideration.
‘It shows fans that they are ambitious and serious about the club.
‘We are a big club, but we’re never going to get bigger and move on if a new stadium isn’t built. It’s long overdue. I don’t want to see us fall behind other local clubs in the area.’
Pisa chairman Mark Dewing, 45, said modernisation of the stadium was the most important issue for this club.
‘Even if we got to the Premiership, we haven’t got any corporate boxes or 24-hour facilities that includes state-of-the-art gyms and restaurants,’ he said.
‘Having a corporate box would pull in more money than 20,000 Pompey fans in the stands.
‘We wouldn’t stand a chance of competing against the top clubs. We need to either move somewhere else or seriously consider restructuring the whole ground. As soon as a club rebuilds their stadium, their gates double.
‘Brighton got a brand-new stadium, and now they have thousands of new fans who come in on match days. We’ve got the same number in fans who are staying away from Fratton Park. It’s an issue that needs addressing.’
NEW CLOCK FOR FRATTON END
POMPEY fans have welcomed the move for a modern digital clock to replace the former Fratton End stadium clock.
The club’s owner, Convers Sports Initiative, issued a statement on their website on Tuesday which informed fans the existing clock had been taken down for repair and a new digital clock and scoreboard would be installed in due course.
Portsmouth Independent Supporters Association member Barry Dewing, 49, from Milton, who has been a Pompey fan since 1967, said: ‘It’s a really good thing that the club is trying to improve the little things. A lot of the fans had noticed that the clock had stopped working. It felt frustrating as a fan to see clubs like Southampton and Brighton moving onwards and upwards whilst we were stuck with a broken stadium clock.’
WORK has begun on improving facilities for fans and players at Pompey’s home ground.
New guttering and toilets are in the pipeline and heating and plumbing has been overhauled in the team’s dressing rooms.
The Victory Suite has also been refloored and a partition has been added, which allowed a new Kidzone to be launched at the Doncaster game.
But Mark Dewing, chairman of Portsmouth Independent Supporters Association, said that more needed to be done to get the club’s facilities up to scratch.
He said: ‘Fans are trying their best to make the most of what there is and I praise them for that.
‘These improvements are good in the short term, but the club needs to look at the overall picture. Top clubs have quality food for kids and Sky Sports in the foyer before the game, those are things we need to look at.’