THE Pompey Supporters’ Trust has said it is ready to ‘hit the ground running’ as it hopes to seal a deal to take over the club –in what would be the largest fan buyout seen in this country.
It comes after administrators PKF yesterday confirmed that the trust is the preferred bidder ahead of Balram Chainrai’s Portpin.
The trust launched a bid for a community buyout earlier this year and hundreds of people have since signed up to stake their support in the future of Pompey.
In a statement, Pompey administrator Trevor Birch said: ‘After extensive discussions over the past few weeks, we have nominated Portsmouth Supporters’ Trust as the preferred bidder for Portsmouth Football Club.
‘We will be working with the trust, the Football League and the Professional Footballers Association to conclude the sale of the club as soon as possible.’
Trust spokesman Colin Farmery told The News the trust is ready to take over straight away.
‘We have got a fully funded bid,’ he said. ‘We have got a bid that has a financial forecast for the next four years.
‘We are ready to hit the ground running. Our bid is credible and will work from day one.
’Everybody connected with the bid is thrilled. It’s a very important stage in the process.
‘We have been inundated with messages from Pompey fans and from people in the football family.
‘The first thing we want to do is to encourage fans to turn up to the game on Saturday. This is a great opportunity to show the world what a big community club we can be.’
Mr Farmery said the next stage is for the trust to finalise the share prospectus with a view to launching it at the end of next week. Then it will ask fans who have invested to make their final payment.
He added: ‘This needs to be finalised by the Football League. There will be further meetings to cross the t’s and dot the i’s. But I think PKF is hopeful that it can be completed speedily. We are just delighted that we are now in a position to go ahead and make this happen.
‘We still want fans to get involved. If there are other high net worth Pompey fans out there that want to be a part of this project then we would be delighted to hear from them as well.
‘This is very much a unique project. It’s not been done from a club as big as Pompey. There will be increasing interest from people who want to make it a success.
‘We have always been confident that we had a strong credible bid. PKF had to go through the process to evaluate the respective bidders.
‘We are delighted they have come to the same conclusion as us that a community-led bid is the best thing for the club.’
Meanwhile, Portpin says it has not given up hope yet.
A Portpin spokesman said: ‘We continue to work with the Football League to ensure we are ready to complete the acquisition of Portsmouth Football Club.
‘Our discussions remain productive and we have been given no reason to believe that there are any remaining obstacles to our bid.
‘Whilst we note PKF’s decision, we recognise that preferred bidder status has no basis in law.
‘And we are confident that our bid offers both the best deal for creditors and is the only fully funded offer to provide Portsmouth FC with a financially sound and sustainable future.’
The trust will need to go through the newly-named Owners and Directors test.
The Football League refused to comment on the latest development at Fratton Park. And Trevor Birch did not answer any calls from The News last night.
Barry Dewing, of the Portsmouth Independent Supporters Association, paid credit to Tony Goodall, who helped launch the bid, but sadly died earlier this year.
He said: ‘It would have been a very proud day for Tony. He was there right at the beginning. This is a very important day for Portsmouth Football Club. It’s something Tony would have cherished.’
Bob Beech from SOS Pompey, said: ‘The fantastic work conducted by everyone connected to the Pompey Supporters Trust has changed the face of modern football.
‘The fans have come together to pledge their support, not just with their hearts and minds, but with their hard-earned savings, to back what will be the largest fan buyout this country has ever seen.’
Nigel Tresidder, chairman of the Pompey Supporters Central Branch, added: ‘It’s great news. It’s just a matter now of hoping the trust has the money to get the club moving forward.
‘I know the trust is doing all it can to raise funds.’
City council leader vows to support fans and praises their hard work
POLITICIANS across the city reacted positively to the news the Pompey Supporters’ Trust had been named preferred bidders for the club.
Portsmouth City Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson said: ‘It’s good. It will need a lot of work to conclude the deal because Portpin won’t be happy.
‘What we have to do is to make sure they succeed.
‘We will work closely with them to try and make sure it’s a success.
‘It’s hugely important. It’s about a long-term future for the club.
‘It won’t be easy but it means it will be owned and run by the community.
‘What we can do is try and help the trust achieve their objectives.
‘My plea is to anybody who is thinking it’s right that Pompey survive and now that they know that the trust is the preferred bidder, they should get on and join.’
Meanwhile, Mike Hancock, MP for Portsmouth South, added: ‘It’s good news for the fans.
‘It’s vindication for the efforts the trust has put into and I just hope people will support them and keep the commitments they have given.
‘They deserve this. I am pleased, very pleased.
‘From the fans’ point of view, it’s what most were hoping for and hopefully the trust’s perseverance is paying off.’
And Penny Mordaunt, MP for Portsmouth North, who spoke about Pompey’s plight in the House of Commons yesterday, said: ‘It is great news that the trust has been named as the preferred bidder, and is a testament to all its hard work and the enthusiasm of the Pompey fans that a supporters’ trust bid can be considered in this way.
‘Let us hope that we can now quickly move to the right conclusion for the fans and the club.’