Opinion: Why fans can Trust new investment

Signings such as Sol Campbell may have delivered the FA Cup but the subsequent financial turmoil has left fans understandably sceptical about outside investment
Signings such as Sol Campbell may have delivered the FA Cup but the subsequent financial turmoil has left fans understandably sceptical about outside investment
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The fact not enough questions were asked when Jermain Defoe, Sol Campbell and Co were signed on exorbitant wages still haunts many Pompey fans.

They haven’t stopped their inquisition since and it was that relentless pursuit of the truth which did so much to unseat those who had taken their club to the brink.

It’s healthy and necessary to continue that process in the new era as the biggest fan-owned outfit in the United Kingdom.

But it’s perhaps easy to let that spill over into the realms of paranoia, as we have seen in recent days.

Pompey’s presidents last week dipped into their pockets to stump up the money needed for crucial improvements to Fratton Park.

A number of the group have ploughed in around £450,000 to fund essential safety work to restore the grand, old lady’s capacity to over 20,000.

Among the central problems which need tackling is the installation of a sprinkler system, with large parts of the North Stand and South Stand made of wood.

It’s crucial remedial work but you’d be forgiven for thinking it was some sort of Machiavellian plot to seize the club judging by the response in some quarters.

Having been burnt too many times before alarm bells began to ring among supporters. It’s a false alarm, though.

This isn’t a stealth bid to wrest Pompey from the fans. It simply can’t happen.

It’s worth remembering among the body of presidents is Pompey Supporters’ Trust board member Mick Williams.

Part of the fear factor is centred around the Trust’s 57-per-cent majority stake in the club.

That has dropped to 52.7 per cent in the wake of the new investment.

Crucially, that remains over the 50-per-cent threshold which keeps the club majority owned by the Trust.

As chief executive Mark Catlin explained in the Sports Mail on Saturday, that was a critical issue in accepting the investment.

‘There was an agreement among everyone that it would not impact on the Trust’s majority ownership.’ he said.

Naturally, those who are putting their own personal wealth into the club, will want that reflected in their shareholding.

That’s not underhand, however. It’s common sense.

There also remains the option of the Trust increasing their shareholding.

That is a process which has gathered pace in recent days, as they bid to find the latest of the 275 who did not convert their initial £100 pledge into a full share.

There is also a business share proposal which could boost the Trust and club’s coffers further.

Pompey, like any business, aren’t in a position to refuse investment which doesn’t compromise the sound foundations of the new era.

‘As long as it’s for the good of the business and people are doing it for the best intentions, I don’t see any business turning down the funds,’ Catlin added.

So it remains an intriguing prospect what happens if and when heavy-duty backing of that nature is proferred. That issue is for another day, though.

For now fans will quite rightly make no apology for questioning affairs at the club they love – but the latest cash injection should be greeted with appreciation over suspicion.