POMPEY fans today announced buy-out plans to ensure their club’s survival.
The Pompey Supporters’ Trust has launched its community share scheme – an initiative inviting fans to register their interest in a future share offer to buy the club.
Fans are asked to pledge a deposit of £100 into an escrow account – a separate account held by an independent third party – held by Portsmouth law firm Verisona.
The trust says share documents will be released once thousands of people make the minimum down payment.
They will then have the chance to acquire a community share for £1,000 and the trust will be in a position to release a detailed proposal to buy the club.
The trust says it does not have a target but points out that if 5,000 fans made a commitment of £1,000 it would raise £5m.
People can pull out of the scheme at any point and would be required to pay a 2.5 per cent handling fee.
The trust says it has been working closely with the administrators to carry out due diligence and has reached the stage to launch the scheme.
It hopes the pre-share offer can show Pompey administrator Trevor Birch that a community buy-out can work, and a takeover could be completed within a ‘few weeks’.
Trust spokesman Scott Mclachlan said the scheme has been launched to save the club.
He said: ‘No one else has shown interest in saving the club so we are looking to lead the fans and all those who love Pompey at home and around the world to allow them to invest in a community buy-out that will make Pompey the largest wholly fan-owned club in Britain. This is a great opportunity for the city and the fans to create a community club that will never again be run in a way that endangers its existence.
The trust envisages that anyone who buys Pompey will face a heavy loss in the 2012-13 season as running costs are cut and player wages are slashed.
If a potential trust takeover was successful, Mr Mclachlan said whoever owns Pompey owns Fratton Park.
He said: ‘We are bidding for Pompey, which includes the ground.
‘As long as Pompey exist, Fratton Park is not separate from the club.
‘The problem only comes when Pompey ceases to exist.
‘That’s when Fratton Park is separate from the football club.’
Mr Mclachlan confirmed the trust has looked at a parallel Plan B scenario – the formation of a new club – if a community buy-out does not come to fruition, but stressed all trust board members are fully focused on the share scheme.
He said: ‘It’s our belief the club will be liquidated very shortly after the end of the season without it being bought.
‘If we fail, the club ceases to exist. It’s our club or no club, the choice is simple for fans.’
The trust’s initiative has been backed by administrator Trevor Birch, Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt, Portsmouth City Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson, and campaign group Supporters Direct.
The trust’s efforts were praised by Pompey boss Michael Appleton.
He said: ‘The fans have been fantastic from the moment I walked into the club.
‘Their never-say-die attitude has been huge to us as we fight to stay in the Championship, survive as a club and build towards a brighter future.
‘The supporters help make Pompey special and it is a reflection of their passion that they are striving to find a way forward like this in our hour of need, so I’ll support any initiative that helps save this great club.’
· There are more details on the Pompey Supporters’ Trust website