THE community saved Pompey. But now they feel the club is turnings its back on them in their hour of need.
Community group Clanfield Celebrations say their hopes of raising money for charity have been dealt a blow following the club’s new mercenary tactics.
The group told The News an agreement was in place in January for Pompey to sign two football shirts, two balls and an autograph book for free as part of its fundraising efforts for Home-Start Butser, a charity that supports families during times of crisis.
The items were to be auctioned at a tombola of a summer fete the group were planning on organising.
An email from the club to Clanfield Celebrations in January, seen by The News, read: ‘Given that Pompey are a proud community club we are always keen to help as many local causes as possible where we can.’
It added: ‘If you can supply us with either we will of course be extremely happy to get it signed by the whole of the first team squad and management team. Hopefully this should assist in a healthy profit for your particular fundraising, whilst endeavouring that we are contributing to this and other worthy local causes.’
But following the sudden change in club policy, Clanfield Celebrations now say they have been told to shell out £10 per item signed - resulting in the organisation having to cough up a total of £50.
The group’s organiser Rebecca Wright said: ‘My opinion and respect for the club has dramatically dropped as have many of the other people that I have spoken to.
‘They had to rely on the community to help build them when they were on the ground but yet they are not willing to support a fete to raise money for Home-Start. Let's hope they never have to rely on the community's help again.
‘I wouldn't mind if they actually had said at the time but they didn’t until we had gone out and purchased the items, on their recommendation, for them to sign.
‘I will not be willing to promote them or praise them in any way in the future as I don't see them as a football team that are community minded. It's a sad day when the pride you have for your local football team is no longer.’
In response, a club spokesperson said: 'As you can imagine, we receive thousands of requests from local and national charities, and other good causes each season. These requests continue to grow. As a result, we are unfortunately unable to accommodate every request and review each one on merit.
‘To help alleviate this problem and speed up such requests, the club now offer pre-signed shirts, balls and team photos for sale.’
Pre-signed items available from the club include a shirt for £65, a signed ball for £17 and a signed team photo for £10.
Bob Beech, former chairman of SOS Pompey said: ‘It is mean-spirited but if you sell to a billionaire this is what you get.
‘The fans voted for it so I suppose you reap what you sow.
‘The club has always had a good record with helping charities so I am surprised to hear that.’