Why Pompey are already trailling behind Fleetwood and Newport County

Pompey's chief executive Mark Catlin. Picture: Paul Jacobs (131241-14)
Pompey's chief executive Mark Catlin. Picture: Paul Jacobs (131241-14)
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The laughter which greeted Mark Catlin’s playing budget revelation was provoked by disbelief rather than a desire to mock.

Certainly, Pompey’s chief executive had not anticipated such a reaction while in Portugal at the Football League AGM last weekend.

The Blues’ playing budget is around the £1.2m mark, although Catlin is tight-lipped on the precise figure.

Regardless, he believes there are at least four or five League Two clubs spending more. By a considerable distance at that.

Fleetwood, Newport County, Bristol Rovers and Chesterfield are some leading the way when it comes to budgets for the approaching season.

So when Catlin divulged a sum which plants his club in a tightly-packed mid-table, others raised their eyebrows.

This from a club which occupied the Premier League in May 2010.

The chief executive, though, refuses to be embarrassed about the new direction the club is following.

He said: ‘People from other clubs still think we are massive and when I tell them our budget they don’t believe me!

‘There was a famous comment from a chairman in League One when we talked about our respective budgets.

‘He responded with “well that’s for the five-a-side team – what’s your real budget?”.

‘There is a general disbelief of what we are working under in regards the budget.

‘The perception of Pompey is a few years ago they were winning the FA Cup and in the Premier League. Surely they can’t be on that budget?

‘The problem with a lot of the other clubs is they have rich owners, even at League Two level.

‘To own and run a League Two club on a relatively small gate you cannot just be a millionaire, you have to be a multi-millionaire.

‘Most of these clubs, even small ones, are operating on million-pound plus losses which are either being propped up by the owner, a cup run or a player sale.

‘A lot of clubs go into the start of the season knowing they are going to lose a million-pound plus.

‘At Pompey that is not the model, we want to be self-sustaining so our budget is basically what we can afford.’

It seems ridiculous Pompey are already the bookies’ favourite for the title.

Especially when others have bigger outlays.

Catlin added: ‘There is a fall in sales and sponsorships at a lot of clubs generally but there are a few big spenders in this league.

‘Fleetwood have a very rich owner willing to put a lot of money in, while Newport have a lottery multi-millionaire in charge and will have a go.

‘There’s a lot of talk Bristol Rovers are pushing the boat out – and Chesterfield are spending a little bit.

‘There are four or five that are well, well in excess of us.

‘Then you have probably got 15 or 16 clubs that sit in that middle pack – and Pompey are in that.’