Only winners and heroes in Pompey’s new dawn

Michael Eisner. Picture: Neil Marshall
Michael Eisner. Picture: Neil Marshall
Conor Chaplin. Picture: Paul Currie/Bluepitch media

Chaplin reflects on Pompey’s defeat to Donny

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To the victor goes the spoils.

Now, an owner-elect waits to survey his kingdom, the one he and his family ingratiated themselves in so convincingly amid an exultant weekend of title-winning celebration.

Michael Eisner’s bid to buy Pompey has been democratically endorsed. His ascent to the Fratton throne is a matter of weeks from being completed.

And isn’t that something to cherish, for oh so many reasons.

Eisner is a man used to winning, as his record suggests. And, more importantly, the due diligence tells us, for all we can ascertain, he’s a worthy custodian of our football club.

But the manner in which this ground-breaking news has been received and interpreted in so many quarters has been at best perplexing, and, at worst an ugly example of the human condition.

Eisner’s prospective Pompey takeover means the community era is around six to eight weeks from its conclusion. That, from this quarter, means a dark and cautionary tale for the English game has been given a happy ending

And that’s thanks to the will of a few people who took on what appeared to be an impossible fight and channelled a city’s indomitable spirit in a manner never previously seen in English football.

Speak to former administrator Trevor Birch if you need context on that one. Have a word with Iain McInnes and those presidents who put their hundreds of thousands in to keep the club from liquidation – with literally no idea whether their cash was being sprayed up the wall or not.

Pompey would’ve perished without those folk. Football isn’t life or death, but, in terms of enjoying our beautiful club today, this was.

Yet, we are witnessing this moment being heralded as a chance to dance on the grave of the Pompey Supporters’ Trust (PST). As much as that may seem like hyperbole to some, you only have to take a look on Twitter, Facebook or The News’ messageboard to see that’s so.

And, yes, it’s true you should never take the online rantings of a faceless few to be indicative of the sentiment of the masses. Nor should credence be afforded the ramblings of the agitators and Poundland Katie Hopkins of our parish.

But we still witness an attempt to wrest the sabre of truth and all that has been good about Pompey for four years from the people who have wielded it. It won’t work.

On Monday, a seminal day in the Blues’ modern history came to pass.

The shareholders and presidents of the club had their say - and the outcome was definitive. A total of 80.32 per cent of PST shareholders who voted were in agreement it’s the right time to sell - that from 2,272 votes cast.

On top of that, 75 per cent of the presidents supported that decision - or 12 of the 16 who invested and helped save the club. So a total of 81.4 per cent of the club’s equity believed this was the right moment to close the community chapter.

It was the strength of the numbers as much as the margins which was also rightly celebrated - with a 93.6 per cent turnout from Trust shareholders.

There are people who didn’t believe selling was the right thing to do, though. Four presidents, for example, felt that was the case.

The reasons for that stance among supporters and those at the heart of the issue you could speculate over. Some, perhaps, ideologically and politically believe Pompey belongs with the fans. Others may simply find it hard to let go.

There are certainly those close to the negotiations, too, who believe a better deal could’ve been struck. No board representation, no Trust share and a purchase price of £5.67m for an upwardly-mobile debt-free football club. Milan Mandaric brought Pompey out of administration for £4.5m 18 years ago.

So, certainly a stance not without its merits, but one overtaken by the populist view fan ownership cannot carry this club to its natural standing in English football.

The £5m drain which is Fratton Park cemented that position, while there is the small matter of the logic of ignoring the advances of a man of Eisner’s calibre when he comes knocking.

A business success story. A sharp brain with impeccable credentials. A philanthropist. A member of Forbes’ world billionaires’ list, for heaven’s sake!

Now, as the front page of The News trumpeted on Tuesday - we head into a new dawn for Pompey. That, quite rightly generates a wave of excitement. The path forward over the next six to eight weeks isn’t without its headaches, however.

Chief executive Mark Catlin has stressed the existing £3m playing budget will not be deviated from until a deal is complete - the kind of sensible financial management we’ve come to expect.

That leaves the Blues not too far above the relegation zone in the third-tier budget table, though.

The suggestion from Trust chair Ashley Brown an interim budget could be introduced led to him being harangued this week. The stance has been viewed as sour grapes, mischief-making and even megalomania. Yet, it’s a position endorsed by chairman McInnes.

On Monday, McInnes highlighted how the presidents sunk money into the club in 2012 to keep Pompey alive with no promise of ever seeing it again.

His view was if it helps to stop Paul Cook missing out on targets, why can’t Eisner do something similar?

It’s a fair bet the Blues chairman wouldn’t been subjected to the same vitriol as Brown if that story appeared at portsmouth.co.uk, with McInnes rightly viewed as one of our own. Brown is too, by the way.

To witness events of recent days being seen as a chance to celebrate the PST’s demise has been ugly. Thankfully, it would’ve passed the majority of supporters by.

There will be a good proportion of Blues followers who couldn’t care less. They are the folk who are all about going to watch their team on a Saturday, having a pint, bet and hoping Pompey get a result.

If Eisner gives their team a better of chance of succeeding what’s not to like?

That’s understandable, but, to allow those punters to do that people have toiled beyond imagination.

At the Lady Hamilton on The Hard in 2009, a meeting took place between a small group of individuals who grew so much stronger than the sum of their parts.

Some may hate to accept it, but the court documents tell otherwise: Those people saved this club.

And that’s why today there are no winners and losers - just winners and heroes.