A WEEK today Portsmouth Football Club could be under the ownership of its fans for the first time in club history.
The Pompey Supporters’ Trust, fresh from a nail-biting day at the High Court in London on Wednesday, says it wants to buy the club out of administration ahead of the final home game of the season next Saturday.
It would mean that all the money from ticket sales would go directly into running the club for the future, rather than into funding its administration.
And if Friday, April 19 were to go down in footballing history as the day the UK’s biggest wholly fan-owned club was created, the city would already be painted blue as that date is also the date of this year’s Blue Day charity event.
Mick Williams, trust board member, said: ‘We will be pushing to get it done ahead of the final game of the season against Sheffield.
‘We need that gate money to come to us, rather than go to Portpin.’
He was speaking at the Chimes bar, deep within Fratton Park, where fans turned up throughout the day to meet members of the bid team and bask in reflected High Court glory.
Mick added: ‘People think we’ve already got it – that we already own the club – but we haven’t quite.
‘We’ve exchanged the contracts, and the administrator has got permission to sell it to us, but we’ve still got to complete.
‘We will be getting into negotiations with the administrator in order to get out of administration as quickly as possible.
‘To do it on April 19, on Blue Day, how fantastic would that be?’
News of the trust’s triumph has spread around the globe.
Not only did around 11,500 people follow the News live stream from Court 30 of the Rolls Building, but many have been adding their congratulations directly to the trust.
Mick said: ‘I had a text from a fan in South Africa who told me that this is the first time in 60 years of supporting the club that he’s actually felt a part of it.
‘That almost had me sobbing again.’
Members of the trust are giving themselves the weekend off to celebrate before the hard work begins once again.
The next week will be frantic for the trust’s bid team, who will be getting ready to take the club over from the administrators, BDO.
Major decisions, such as putting the finishing touches on the design of the kit, and firming up how much season tickets will be for 2013/14, will be among those which need to be finalised.
Though the work has been done on those issues, the trust has not been able to complete them because the High Court hearing regarding the sale of Fratton Park, as reported in yesterday’s News, held everything up.
And in on-pitch news, once the trust has control of the club its players will be signing new, permanent contracts rather than the month-by-month rolling contracts they have had to make do with while the club has been in administration.
A decision will also be made whether to keep Guy Whittingham on as team coach, as reported on our back page today.
But it’s not just the major decisions that need to be made.
The trust’s Colin Farmery said: ‘It’s the nitty-gritty bits we also need to do, which is almost as important as those major decisions.
‘We are going to have a bit of a honeymoon period when we take over, which we’ll be making to most of, but we need to make sure that everything is meshed together so whenever we come out of administration we hit the ground running.’