Pompey Academy boss salutes fans as Tifosy pitches near completion

Pompey Academy boss Mark Kelly       Picture: Neil Marshall
Pompey Academy boss Mark Kelly Picture: Neil Marshall
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Pompey Academy boss Mark Kelly saluted the Fratton faithful as he readied his troops to make use of the newly-laid fan-funded pitches at the Blues’ training ground.

Supporters raised an astonishing £270,000 through the Tifosy crowdfunding scheme in August 2014.

Now, two years on, the two pitches bankrolled for youth-team use at the club’s Roko training base are nearing completion.

Next month has been pencilled in as a realistic date for a first run-out, with Kelly quick to praise supporters for giving Pompey greater opportunity to develop homegrown talent.

He said: ‘The fans have backed it (crowdfunding) to the hilt and made it possible.

‘If you want to run a football club, you have to have an area where you can be consistently working from.

‘We didn’t have that in Eastleigh during the Premier League days.

‘The school (King Edward VI) would dictate where and when we could do something.

‘Having a base in the city and now the extra pitches is massive for us going forward.

‘We can finally all work and develop together as one club.

‘In the past we have gone from pillar to post.

‘And the more time you spend on the bus travelling to and from places, the less time you spend working.

‘We’ve never had it so good – and the fans have done a great job to make it happen.’

The use of extra pitches will give the Academy a defined space to call their own, as well as a future venue to play home matches – which are currently held at the University of Portsmouth’s Furze Lane campus.

Kelly, though, is keen that they do not rush the process, allowing time for the grass to bed in and the groundsmen to do their work as they rotate available pitch space with Paul Cook’s first team.

He said: ‘It is going to be a massive benefit to us and the first team.

‘We will look to play matches there in the long term, but we need to let it bed in and work properly first – we won’t be impatient.

‘But the more areas we have to work on and use, the better.

‘Having a base where the youth and first team are together and looking at how it is going to advance and the club are going to evolve is an exciting prospect.

‘We already benefit from being around the first team and working together on a daily basis.

‘But I think the ability to have bit of rotation with pitches and stuff is going to be fantastic for us.’

Pompey Academy return to Youth Alliance League south west division action on Saturday at Furze Lane (11am) against Bristol Rovers.

Tomorrow afternoon, the Blues’ under-18s learn their FA Youth Cup second-round opponents, following last month’s 5-0 Eastleigh rout.