Pompey fans fear being left behind in takeover race

UNITED Tony Foot speaks at the Pompey Supporters Trust's AGM in The Rifle Club with, from left, Steve Tovey, Ashley Brown, Mick Williams and Mark Trapani. Pictures: Ian Hargreaves (123162)
UNITED Tony Foot speaks at the Pompey Supporters Trust's AGM in The Rifle Club with, from left, Steve Tovey, Ashley Brown, Mick Williams and Mark Trapani. Pictures: Ian Hargreaves (123162)
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POMPEY fans seeking to buy the club fear they will lose in the two-horse race to take it over.

Members of the Pompey Supporters’ Trust (PST) believe a bid launched by Portpin, the firm owned by Hong Kong businessman Balham Chainrai, is being favoured by the club’s administrator PKF over theirs.

UNITED The Pompey Supporters Trust's AGM in The Rifle Club.  Pictures: Ian Hargreaves (123162)

UNITED The Pompey Supporters Trust's AGM in The Rifle Club. Pictures: Ian Hargreaves (123162)

The trust’s chairman Ashley Brown told members at its annual general meeting last night that risk managers for PKF are worried it wouldn’t have the money to take on Portpin in court if the company lost out.

PKF has not officially confirmed which bid it will choose. In recent weeks there have been a number of bidders for Pompey but Portpin and the trust’s offers are now the ones being decided between.

Mr Brown said: ‘What we understand, albeit not communicated fully is that the administration sees Portpin as the preferred bidder.

‘This is not what the fans want.

‘If we are chosen to run the club and there is a legal appeal we would need to consider whether using fans ‘money to fund it would be the right course of action.’

Pompey fan John Drain, 74, of Copnor, told the trust board: ‘I’m not going to waste my money on fighting a big company because you’ll never win.’

Mr Brown told guests at the meeting, in Portsmouth Railway Rifle Club, Southsea, that he hopes to learn in the next few days whether the Football League can stop Portpin taking over.

As previously reported, the trust sent a letter to the Football League questioning Portpin’s suitability as fit and proper owners – saying it had already put the club into administration twice.

‘The Football League has told us it has received our letter and is contacting the relevant authorities,’ Mr Brown said.

‘Unfortunately the league doesn’t tend to give a lot away.’

Fans at the meeting said they feared Mr Chainrai’s motive to take over of Pompey was to cash in on £8m worth of parachute payments still owed to the club. Life-long Pompey fan Paul Seidenstucker, 66, of Stubbington, said: ‘Portpin and Mr Chainrai are only in it for the parachute payments. They don’t care about the fans and the long-term future of the club.’

Mark Trapani, one of the trust’s board members, said: ‘Our deal is still very much on the table. We understand the fans’ frustration at not knowing what is going to happen and we hope the matter will be resolved soon.’

Portpin victory will give fans chance to speak

FANS will get to decide what the Pompey Supporters’ Trust should do if Portpin’s offer for the club is accepted.

At last night’s meeting trust chairman Ashley Brown said questionnaires would be sent to members asking if they wanted the trust to try and form a partnership with Mr Chainrai’s firm or challenge it in court.

Mr Brown felt the issue would be too big and emotive for the trust’s board members to decide alone.

But he warned that joint ownership of the club would see fans lose out.

‘We would potentially be looking at a two per cent stake in the club for £2m. It would be a waste of supporters’ money because we would have very little power over the club.’

Richard Thompson, 52, of Gosport, has been a Pompey fan for 41 years. He said: ‘While my heart says we should fight Portpin to the end my head tells the trust and Portpin to work together and come to a solution.’

Dan Lacey, who set up online petition No Portpin at Pompey, added: ‘It definitely sounds like Portpin is going to take over the club.

‘If that is the case then the trust should look into holding the company accountable and regularly check it’s behaving and not abusing its power at the club.’