No Fratton finale for city’s talents

City of Portsmouth celebrate their under-15s News Trophy success at Fratton Park last season. Picture: Allan Hutchings (111640-731)
City of Portsmouth celebrate their under-15s News Trophy success at Fratton Park last season. Picture: Allan Hutchings (111640-731)
Peterborough celebrate against Pompey. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Portsmouth youngsters have been told there will be no schools’ finals held at Fratton Park this year.

Pompey have opted to pull out of hosting the four youth matches it has traditionally staged for decades.

It’s a decision which will upset children across the area who are eager to play at the home of their heroes.

The News Trophy, the Supporters’ Cup and two Stokes cups have been competed for by local pupils over two nights at Fratton at the end of every season.

They have been popular events, with hundreds of supporters turning up.

Last year Portsmouth Schools’ Football Association (PSFA) paid around £1,500 to hire facilities.

Now they have been told the club cannot accommodate them after being ‘inundated’ with requests.

And PSFA treasurer Peter Sykes has criticised the move.

He said: ‘This is very disappointing. I feel they have missed recognising how important such occasions are to children – and have been for many, many years.

‘You meet these kids years later and to play at Fratton Park is one of their biggest moments of their life.

‘I don’t think that has been fully appreciated by the club.

‘It is difficult to see how two evenings really make that much difference to the club.

‘Besides, we pay the going rate for it and rightly so.

‘This seems to contradict the message that the club want to build relationships with the schools.’

The four finals will now take place at Moneyfields FC.

Pompey spokesman Mark Storey said: ‘We are inundated with requests and would love to satisfy everybody but the pitch is only available for a small period until preparations on the surface for the following campaign need to start.

‘We want to make the pitch available to the wider community while also fulfilling agreements with our commercial partners.

‘These include a Linvoy Primus charity game, a season ticket holders’ day and a Royal Navy cup final.

‘Some groups have had use of the pitch for a number of years and we only think it fair to share its availability.’