The celebration of Pompey’s renewed appeal

Michael Eisner's interest shows Pompey's credibility Pic credit: Disney
Michael Eisner's interest shows Pompey's credibility Pic credit: Disney
Carl Baker Picture: Neil Marshall

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Ze Pompey are magique!

The cry was loud, proud and delivered in accents which certainly didn’t sound like they originated from within the PO postcode. No dinlos, squinnies or mushes peppering their vocabulary, that’s for sure.

Further investigation suggested the 15 or so chaps in a mixture of Pompey shirts, apparel and Paris St Germain gear were behind the racket.

And their Gallic tones were full of appreciation for the Blues, as they made their way to take in the Pompey Supporters’ Trust Shareholder Wall of Fame behind the North Stand.

Unfortunately, they were served up dismal fare in the defeat against Crewe earlier this month. But these guys seemed entrenched enough in the Blues to have got used to that over the past few years.

Still, it felt kind of twee we hadn’t been forgotten to the wider world since disappearing from the Premier League land of milk and honey seven years ago.

And it’s not just our French friends who are still embracing the Pompey parable. Followers from across the world have been welcomed to Fratton Park in the community era.

So the appeal of this club to other members of the football family has, to some extent, remained in recent times. And that we have seen in the most seismic fashion this week.

News of American billionaire Michael Eisner’s bid to assume control of the Blues has now been digested among the Fratton faithful

And amid the initial feelings of reticence, suspicion and no little excitement, a unifying sentiment has developed. The fact a successful, credible man of such wealth is today interested in investing in our football club really is something to celebrate.

It was that reality which took the mind back to the start of the 2014-15 season.

In the build-up to that campaign it was announced the names of 1,400 fallen members of the Hampshire Battalion – or Pompey Pals – were to be embedded in the club’s kit; a salute to those who gave their lives in the Great War. Blues fan, Bob Beech, had pursued their remembrance, and on the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of war football rose to acclaim the tribute.

The wider significance of the moment was the praise was jarring. Virtually all the talk for the preceding four years had been sneeringly negative. But Portsmouth Football Club weren’t dirty words anymore.

Thankfully, positive Pompey vibes is something we’ve now been able to become accustomed to once again in the ensuing three years.

Debt free two years ahead of schedule, the nation’s biggest community club have continued to confound the doubters. And a club in that position with a strong fanbase is, of course, an appeal to investors.

The natural ceiling to the current model has been well debated and is almost universally accepted. These days, however, Pompey aren’t lifting their skirt to the first investors of ill repute who sniff in their direction.

Yet, it’s been fascinating to see support for Eisner’s bid from those who did so much to guide the club to a position where he’d be interested.

Whatever the minutiae of the deal they, no doubt, view the American’s takeover as a satisfying conclusion to their tireless endeavours. And quite right, too.

A cursory inspection of Eisner’s credentials ticks all the right boxes and returns evidence of a growing passion for football on these shores.

That was supported by a team with Reading’s infrastructure and high-flying Championship status pricking his interest. Yet, after multiple visits and being taken by the atmosphere against Grimsby last week, in particular, he’s made his move.

It’s Pompey who have prompted a man of Eisner’s calibre to do so. The fact they can today do that is quite something.