Andronikou urged to meet group to help save Pompey

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Administrator Andrew Andronikou is to be urged to meet with fans, politicians and businessmen fighting to safeguard Pompey’s future.

The move was agreed at a meeting organised by The News this afternoon and involving leaders of the Portsmouth Supporters Trust, local businessmen, Portsmouth City Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson and Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage.

Representatives at the meeting said that it was time for a clear message to be sent to the administrators of Pompey’s parent company that the wishes of supporters had to be recognised.

Members of the Trust have been talking to prospective buyers and stressing that involvement by fans is central to the long-term success of football in the city.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson said that would be easier if a delegation met Mr Andronikou to seek further information and to impress on him the part supporters could play.

Delegates at the meeting said that there could be more openness in the way the administrator operated.

The two-hour meeting focussed on work done so far by the Trust to achieve community ownership or involvement in the club, which faces a winding-up hearing in the High Court on February 20.

Subjects raised at the meeting included the ‘Plan B’ option which would kick in if Portsmouth Football Club was liquidated as a result of the taxman’s application to the court over an unpaid £800,000 tax bill.

Trust representatives stressed that this was very much the second option.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson said it was important that Mr Andronikou, the administrator of Pompey’s parent company CSI, met with politicians and fans as the Trust explored ways of becoming involved in a successful bid from a viable purchaser.

Ashley Brown, chairman of the Pompey Supporters’ Trust, said: ‘The meeting was a useful exercise for the opportunity to sit down with like minded people with interest in securing the long term future of Pompey.

‘We recognise there may not be anything miraculous with what we can do but at least there are people working hard to do their best for football in the city.’

Trust representatives said they continued to speak to potential purchasers and they hoped any would-be buyer would see the advantage of working with fans to forge a successful bid.

The meeting concluded that it was unlikely that any pressure put on the Government would lead to the taxman relaxing his demands.

It was agreed that any decision on a call for fans and the community to invest cash in Pompey’s future was not likely to be made until the immediate future of the club became clear.

The focus would continue on the Pack the Park initiative to fill Fratton Park for the upcoming matches against Hull City (February 4) and Ipswich Town (February 14).

Trust members said they hoped that a debate at Westminster Hall next Wednesday on football governance would further the Government’s commitment to give football fans more involvement in the running of clubs.

Delegates at the meeting spoke afterwards of their hopes for the future.

Gary Jeffries, managing director of Hughes Ellard, said: ‘It’s fantastic that so many people have come together to try and see what we can do for Portsmouth Football Club. It’s also fantastic to see that the politicians are involved as well.’

Cllr Vernon-Jackson said: ‘We’d like to invite Andrew Andronikou to come down to the city and have a meeting with everyone here and speak to us about what is going on.’

Mark Waldron, editor of The News, said: ‘We’re looking at options and we’ve started that process of bringing people together. The clear message needs to go to the administrators that the Pompey fans are and will always be the heart of this football club. Given what has gone before, it is surely crucial that any new owner works fully with them to ensure stability and success.’

Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage said: ‘This is important for Pompey, and it was something that I had to come to. We will work together to find an option for Pompey.’

And Trust member Mick Williams added: ‘Our message, whatever happens on February 20, is that we are ready.’