Ups and downs of court but a ride to make Catlin smile

Pompey chief executive Mark Catlin
Pompey chief executive Mark Catlin
Pompey's Brett Pitman scores a penalty in the Blues' 1-1 draw against Walsall at Fratton Park. Picture: Joe Pepler/Digital South.

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A ROLLER-COASTER day at a roller-coast club.

Mark Catlin can still feel the churning of his stomach when raking over events from Pompey’s High Court visit one year on.

Although not instilled as the Blues chief executive at that point, he had spent the previous six months working unpaid behind the scenes.

His involvement ensured he was present in Court 30 of the Rolls Building when Mr Justice Peter Smith rubberstamped a last-gasp out-of-court settlement with Portpin on April 10, 2013.

And he recalls the unfolding of the day which would unite the Blues with Fratton Park again – keeping their Football League membership at the same time.

‘On the day itself there were enormous mood swings. It was a roller-coaster, typical Pompey,’ said Catlin.

‘Going up to the court, I thought it was 50/50, then the news started to break that there was a potential deal in the offering.

‘Then the hearing started and the way the judge started off I actually began to get very depressed again – then we were running out of time and the judge was getting agitated.

‘The concern was he might have taken a view this is taking too long and thought “I am going to make a decision now”.

‘But, thankfully, everyone came to a sensible decision and the reason I say sensible is because it enabled the football club to continue.

‘Any decision based on that was always going to be a sensible one for me.

‘There are many things I remember from that day, such as the lights going out and somebody said “You forgot to pay the electric bill”, while Mick Williams’ phone kept going off.

‘The judge was witty and the good thing was he was a football fan so understood what it meant.

‘It wasn’t just a normal business, it was so much more than a normal business because it means so much to so many people.’

Upon the Pompey Supporters’ Trust and high net worths officially seizing control on April 19, Catlin became the club’s chief executive and has subsequently overseen financial results exceeding those originally forecast.

The club is also ahead of their payment schedules to clear legacy debts owed to former players, initially pencilled in to finish in July 2016.

And Catlin is proud to have been present in court that day which paved the way for fan ownership.

He added: ‘Such a momentous and historical day and to feel part of the history of being involved in it was unbelievable.

‘Coming out and a lot of punching of the air and I remember coming out and my first thought was “Now the work really starts”– and that was after eight months of pretty intense work to get to that point!’