Reasons why Pompey were worth the bother

Pompey chairman Iain McInnes gets a dunking in the water pool at the Fans' Day fundraiser held before the Charlton friendly Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey chairman Iain McInnes gets a dunking in the water pool at the Fans' Day fundraiser held before the Charlton friendly Picture: Joe Pepler
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It was just over a year ago when talkSPORT ran the poll.

There it was, on the Drive Time web page under pictures of Adrian Durham and Darren Gough.

It was titled: Are Portsmouth worth saving?

Below was one paragraph succinctly summing up the premise for this attempt at gauging the opinion of the Great British public.

It stated: ‘Portsmouth are in severe danger of going under but, after a string of financial mismanagement, would you bother to save them?’

Yes, really. ‘Would you bother to save them?’

This had been prompted by administrator Trevor Birch dropping the bombshell that unless all of the senior first-team players were removed by August 10, 2012, then he would be forced to liquidate the club.

Fratton Park staff were called into a meeting with the PKF/BDO administrator and given the grave news face to face that their very livelihoods were now under threat.

Those connected with the playing side received the damning e-mail while on their pre-season tour in Benahavis – a Spanish bolthole that was no hiding place from bad news.

And the fans, still somehow staggering along on both feet irrespective of endless barrages and beatings drummed into them, had received another blow below the belt.

Cue what was a grotesque and disgustingly flippant poll on the website of the leading commercial sports station in this country.

Well, today, Pompey fans will show that it was worth the ‘bother’ to save their football club.

Some 18,200 will be in attendance at Fratton Park for the opening fixture of the League Two campaign against Oxford.

The sell-out total would have been higher was it not for the safety and security issues which dictated a reduced capacity on a temporary basis.

Regardless, today’s tally will comfortably exceed the crowd for the visit of Fulham in the first game of the Premier League 2009-10 season.

On that occasion, 17,510 were present.

Some four years on, two administrations later and three divisions lower, there are more Blues fans turning out to back their club.

Admittedly, there has been a lot of hassle along the way over the past year – what with high court cases, raising finances and achieving the seemingly impossible.

Some fans gave up, some favoured others who knocked on the door, some steered clear of the politics and the battle in favour of occasionally peeping out the window to discover whether football is back on the agenda again.

Each to their own.

But many threw their support with increasing numbers behind a group who weren’t prepared to accept the fate dictated them.

But was it worth it? Hell, yes.

Their football club now no longer just lives, it has a future.

Quite what manner of future, nobody can be certain. Yet it has people in charge who care for it, who crave for its continued survival.

But who on earth are these people who could possibly want to save a football club following its ‘string of financial mismanagement’?

So far there are 2,061 community shareholders in the Pompey Supporters’ Trust, enabling £2.24m shares to be purchased.

Bearing in mind syndicates do not have to name members or numbers, but instead nominate one person to have their name on the certificate, the truth is there are far, far more supporters involved than that.

In addition, there are 11 presidents, previously known as high-net-worth individuals, investing £1.65m – nine of whom are long-time Pompey supporters. That means the Trust have a 57-per-cent shareholding in the club as it stands.

There are still £110,000 community shares to be processed, while 350 £100 pledges are still to be converted, including many former players.

Incidentally, no-one has yet to ask for their £100 back.

In terms of community fundraising events, Fans’ Day collected more than £11,000, Play Up Pompey Music raked in £10,000, as well as a Wedgewood Rooms comedy night and a six-a-side football tournament.

Looking at purely football club revenue at present, more than 10,300 season tickets have been sold.

Not all favour the Trust, it has to be pointed out.

But sponsorship income is up 90 per cent, hospitality income is already up 41 per cent on all of last season and advertising income is up 128 per cent.

Merchandising income is up 1,680 per cent, despite the delays in Sondico opening the club shop.

Finally, Pompey’s player wages to turnover ratio is 34 per cent against the 55 per cent that League Two stipulates.

Clearly, there were plenty out there bothered to save this proud, old football club devastated by characters long since departed.

All very well watching from afar, very afar, and smugly casting judgment over whether a football club should be sent to the electric chair.

But this is Pompey, whose fans twice stepped in to pay back charity money which was misplaced during separate old regimes.

They are used to clearing up the mess of some who were entrusted with their club yet instead took it to the brink of being liquidated and fleeing amid cries of ‘blame somebody else’.

Now fans have done it again.

Incidentally, 57 per cent of people who took part in that poll – which can actually still be found on the internet – said Pompey weren’t worth saving.

Thankfully many, many others whose opinion really do matter completely disagreed.