The day football applauded Pompey

Pompey chairman Iain McInnes

Pompey chairman Iain McInnes

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For one day the footballing community rose to its feet and applauded.

A fleeting acknowledgment from friends and foes alike, subsequently all too quickly forgotten in the break-neck-speed world we cling on to.

Yet for 24 hours Pompey were hoisted aloft on shoulders, they were admired and, let it be said in hushed tones, envied by some.

Proclaiming themselves legacy-debt free on Monday, suddenly football’s favourite crisis club was basking in positivity and immense goodwill.

Something to truly treasure for the Fratton faithful, having often been pilloried and sneeringly derided for daring to attempt saving their club from liquidation.

Now the responsibility of those in charge is to maintain the path to self-sufficiency and avoid temptation to spend funds not in their possession amid the inevitable demands for squad strengthening.

Financial stability should not be allowed to become a mere passing feature of Pompey. It has to be established as the norm.

Still, on Monday it was announced around £7.5m owed between 24 players, four foreign football clubs and former owners Portpin had been settled within 18 months.

The payback schedule had initially been fixed at July 2016.

Cue acclaim, eulogising and hearty pats on the back in recognition of a stunning achievement by a football club owned by its community.

And didn’t the well-wishers emerge, irrespective of teams affiliated to and any lack of geographical affection for Pompey.

A number of Southampton fans led the way on social media, while there were also followers from Spurs, Leeds, Newcastle, Wigan, Doncaster, Leyton Orient and Ipswich among those registering their respect at the news.

Former Blues players Matt Taylor, John Sullivan and Jamie Ashdown gave their congratulations and support for a club in which they clearly still maintain an interest.

Then there was BDO administrator Trevor Birch contacting Pompey to send his admiration.

No such commendations from Andrew Andronikou, however.

The clamour among national media to cover the story resulted in Sky Sports, talkSport and BBC Five Live all making touch with a League Two outfit usually raising little interest.

Of course, the developments were not well-received by everyone as the twistedly disaffected and those burdened with unfathomable agendas retired to the comforting darkness to curse under their breath.

Certainly in no mood to unite with those noisily celebrating victory – such people represent impossible matches to win.

Not that those characters should distract from the Pompey joy as the high spirits ran into Monday night at the pre-arranged Pompey Supporters’ Trust update meeting – which produced more positive financial announcements.

A packed Victory Lounge were informed the club had recorded what once appeared to be an improbable operating profit in its first full year.

The figure of £312,168 was another impressive result on a day in which the financial boosts kept rolling in.

In accounts for the year ending June 30, 2014 – still to be audited by Taylorcocks – turnover reached £6.05m, including match income (£3.35m) and commercial income (£1.67m).

The original budget presented to the Football League upon taking over the club was expectations of an operating loss of £750,000.

Finance director Tony Brown credited the success to £688,904 on operational savings, chiefly achieved through the renegotiation of legacy debts.

Elsewhere, once depreciation, amortisation and finance costs were taken into consideration, the loss before tax was £251,744.

That was in contrast to an anticipated first-year loss of £965,000.

In addition, balance sheets revealed £2.13m had been paid to legacy football creditors since June to put the club on an even keel.

The bulk of such legacy debts over the past 18 months have been settled through the parachute payments from those Premier League days – windfalls which have now finished.

As part of the process, Brown personally re-negotiated early settlements with those owed – including all former players. Actions which prompted large savings.

At the Monday night meeting, the current make-up of Pompey was also revealed, with the Trust currently possessing a 47.6 per cent stake in the club.

That accounts for 2,572 shares owned by 2,371 different shareholder members, the group totalling £2.57m in contributions.

In terms of total Trust membership, it numbers 3,737, of which 1,312 are paid-up adult members and 54 junior members.

The remaining 52.4 per cent is shared among 16 presidents, whose own numbers have increased by four since the summer.

The new figures on board are David Willian, Peter Lee and Virginia Silvester – wife of existing president Ian Silvester.

There is also Mike Hall, although not the club’s commercial manager whose blogs were so instrumental in the fight for a fan takeover.

So here we are, a Football League club with no legacy debts, no loans and a newly-constructed training ground – within the first 18 months of the current ownership.

Not bad for a bunch of amateurs with no experience of running a football club playing at being owners.

After all, as West Ham co-chairman David Gold so pompously tweeted to Pompey fan @harrisondunks14: ‘Fans running a club doesn’t work. They sit down at a meeting with a plan to design a horse and end up with a camel’.

Paid up Pompey, Pompey paid up.

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