The remnants of mistrust are highly palpable and, admittedly understandable, Pompey fans these days view owners with narrowed eyes rather than open arms.
Rightly so as the scars inflicted by a succession of club caretakers will never heal. Vigilance is imperative while scrutiny is essential.
It is the Pompey Supporters’ Trust who now has the majority shareholding in the Blues – precisely 52 per cent at this moment in time with 2,312 shares.
Yet the remaining stake is held by 12 men whose financial presence appears not to convince all.
Iain McInnes, Mick Williams, Chris Moth, John Kirk, Eric Coleborn, Martin Moyse, Martin Price, Ian Silvester, John Crossley, John Partridge, Ken Terry and Stuart Robinson have between them paid £2.13m for 2,130 shares in the club.
Pure equity rather than bulging loans at highly-favourable rates the likes of Sacha Gaydamak, Balram Chainrai and Convers Sports Initiatives (CSI) lumbered Pompey with in recent times.
The presidents’ intentions were queried in some circles at the turn of the year when £450,000 – understood to have been driven by Moth and Kirk – had been invested to revamp Fratton Park and meet health and safety regulations.
However, Clause 21 floors any suggestion their motivation is driven by the desire to make money out of the football club they are now involved in.
The Shareholders’ Agreement for Portsmouth Community Football Club is a 40-page legal document not on public display, yet has been seen by The News.
Within its pages it absolutely states no dividends will be paid to any individual shareholder.
Basically, should the club ever make a profit, the presidents – and the Trust for that matter – will not receive a penny.
Not that reaping financial rewards is a realistic proposition. The board have long made it clear it expects losses for the first two years during the on-going stabilising.
Still, to quote Clause 21 verbatim: ‘The parties agree that in accordance with the Articles no dividend will be payable on any shares.’
Of course, the clause can still be altered to allow dividends, although 100 per cent of the shareholding would have to agree.
There is also the issue of selling shares for profit, perfectly permissible. Although, as ever, the Trust possesses the power to intervene.
The Shareholders’ Agreement signed on April 19 states if any of the 12 presidents or the Trust wish to sell their stakes to another party they would require 75-per-cent approval.
Effectively, as long as the Trust possess at least 26 per cent of the shares, they can block any such sales to individuals or groups.
Should the nod be given, shares would then firstly have to be offered to all 13 stakeholders at the same price the seller has received to prompt them to consider disposing of them.
This would be carried out pro rata, divided between any interested parties before going outside the club.
Should Pompey’s board – of which there are seven members – have reasonable cause for concern and believe the potential buyer would not be acceptable to the football authorities, they can also prevent the sale.
After all, any club director, any individual concerned in the management of the club, and any shareholder holding a ‘significant interest’ (10 per cent or more) has to pass the Owners and Directors Test.
Of course, it should not be overlooked that 10 of the 12 presidents are long-standing Pompey fans and, in fairness, would be regarded as unlikely to wish to sell their shares to ‘outsiders’.
Just as important to consider is, although regarded as having 48 per cent of the shares, they are not a cohesive group, merely individuals of which three people each have a 1.12-per-cent stake (50 shares) and another three 2.25 per cent (100 shares).
Moth, Kirk, McInnes and Partridge own the highest percentage among the 12 presidents.
At present, shares are valued at £1,000 each and will remain so until the April 19 deadline when the scheme transfers to the Trust board to administrate, enabling them to decide the future price.
Still, as well as 75 per cent of shareholders required to sanction the sale of shares, that figure is also needed to allow assets of the company to be mortgaged or the changing of the mandate to the bank.
In addition, there are issues contained within the Shareholders’ Agreement which necessitate a 90-per-cent vote to be implemented.
These consist of the company being listed on the stock exchange, the winding up of the company and the buying and selling of external assets (not including players).
Additionally, 90 per cent would be needed to pass any ‘changing nature’ of the business, which could be argued would include a name change to the football club. Particularly relevant considering the Hull City goings on at present.
All stipulations can be found in a Shareholders’ Agreement which went through two sets of lawyers and Supporters Direct before being signed off – while the Football League also studied it.
So who are the presidents then, these people who have been given such a title to reflect paying at least £50,000 for Pompey shares?
Incidentally, the maximum an individual is allowed to invest within the Trust is £20,000, as governed by the rules of being an Industrial and Provident Society (IPS).
Back to the presidents and many are familiar, with McInnes, Williams and Robinson.
Of the others, Moth, from Selsey, has been attending Fratton Park since the late 1970s and is a founding partner of an investment management firm, while Guildford-based Kirk has had a successful city career.
Formerly of Leigh Park, Milton and Farlington, Price is involved in the care industry. As for Crossley, he attended his first Pompey match in 1962 and, despite living abroad, is a season-ticket holder.
Terry hails from Selsey and currently lives in London where he works in finance, and Partridge, the father of ex-Trust board member Matt, has been a Blues fan for more than 40 years and spent his career in property and investment management.
Silvester is a third-generation supporter and former project manager, while Moyse is a Pompey-born chartered surveyor attending Fratton Park since 1968.
Finally, Coleborn has been watching the Blues since he was nine-years-old and later worked for the club’s commercial department in the 1970s and 1980s.
They are 12 men who have a massive say in the future of Pompey – but unlikely to ever make any money out of an investment driven by the heart.