We got answers - but from Fratton, not Hong Kong

David Lampitt, centre, flanked by head of media Mark Storey, left, and commercial director Lucius Peart
David Lampitt, centre, flanked by head of media Mark Storey, left, and commercial director Lucius Peart
Share this article

COMMENT: A business community that is simply the best

Have your say

It was the week when the fans’ questions were answered.

Well, not all of them, but a fair amount.

What’s more, it wasn’t Sky who managed it.

In terms of breaking fresh ground, the much-vaunted Special Report on Monday disappointed largely.

Granted, they did pull off something of a coup by luring out Balram Chainrai in front of the camera to respond to a variety of issues put to him by Brian Swanson.

The Blues’ joint-owner gave up his time to give sound bites on a handful of issues concerning Pompey.

Only problem was, it didn’t exactly tell us much.

Yet for the failure to shed new light on matters, despite been given such rich minerals to work with, at least help was at hand days later.

Sadly, the audience was nowhere near as sizeable on Wednesday night inside Fratton Park’s Victory Lounge.

Nonetheless, a crowd of around 200 Pompey fans were presented with the rare opportunity to put chief executive David Lampitt on the spot for a fascinating 90 minutes.

And they helped unearth a string of interesting responses where those people at Sky sadly didn’t manage to succeed.

From training ground plans, ownership interest and parachute payments to Peter Storrie, season-ticket pricing and John Utaka’s controversial departure, they were all discussed.

There was even the chance for Chainrai’s love for the club to once again be proclaimed. As if the Sky production wasn’t clear enough on that.

Lampitt may have his snipers, yet he answered questions confidently, openly and at length whenever he could.

And that in itself was enough to ensure what is hoped to be quarterly meetings with supporters was an impressive success and a darn more insightful exercise than Sky managed to achieve.

Not that Sky should be criticised too much for their programme which went out on Monday night amid great expectations.

The complexities of the various ownership situations over the past few years means much of the murkiness behind the near-destruction of Portsmouth Football Club will never be cleared.

Similarly, legal issues ensure much more information will never come to light through either broadcasting or publication.

Please don’t treat that as a lack of knowledge. Sadly the lawyers are always watching.

As it was, Sky’s production was a neat summary of all that has gone on at Fratton Park during the past few years.

They spoke to Daniel Azougy, Andrew Andronikou, Lampitt, Steve Cotterill and Linvoy Primus.

Sky even managed to have a text conversation with Sulaiman Al Fahim and a terse rejection from Sacha Gaydamak.

Sadly, all that was missing was Ali Al Faraj. Then again, nobody they interviewed on the programme had ever had the pleasure of his company, either.

In the meantime, Mark Jacob declined the offer of an interview, while Peter Storrie was glaringly absent, presumably for the same reason.

What unfolded in the programme was something which certainly would have opened up the eyes of many neutral football fans keen on learning more about the Fratton Park mess.

It was informative, enlightening and educational to the many out there who have watched Pompey’s demise with bemusement from afar.

In truth, that captive audience was a more attractive one for Sky to seek rather than merely just Blues followers already fully up-to-speed.

Still, it wasn’t a bad effort and once again they should be applauded for smoking out the ever-elusive Chainrai.

A fortnight ago, The News once again attempted to speak to Pompey’s chairman, ringing him on his mobile.

He refused to talk, asked us to go through the club in future and kindly never to ring him again.

Another door shut in the face down what is proving to be a long corridor in attempting to deal with Balram Chainrai.

Then again, the sort of questions The News and Pompey fans would like to ask Chainrai would have differed considerably to those delivered by Swanson out in Hong Kong.

Yet, as ever, Sky have a habit of tempting him to break his lengthy silences. As have the South China Morning Press.

As it was, for many Pompey fans, the moment from the programme which will live long in the memory is the sight of Chainrai declaring he had fallen in love with the club rather than any wonderful revelation.

Just two days later and it was Lampitt’s turn to shed some light on the Fratton goings-on in front of the fans.

Thankfully, he certainly clarified some of the many outstanding issues which continue to blight the club.

Organised by Pompey fans’ liaison officer Johnny Moore, the meeting is set to be the first of quarterly occasions aimed at continuing to re-establish trust with the club’s lifeblood.

As a result, tickets were handed to heads of the likes of Pompey Supporters’ Trust, Pompey Supporters’ Club Central Branch, Pompey Independent Supporters’ Club and Pompey online.com to distribute among their members.

That meant some 200 attending the inaugural event, taking place at Fratton Park.

Questions during the one-and-half-hour meeting were fired from the floor, with none vetted and none shirked by their chief target Lampitt.

Inevitably, a straight bat was played to the issue of Tal Ben Haim, Russian ownership interest and how much Chainrai has put the club on the market for.

Highly-frustrating responses, yet Lampitt explained at length just why he was unable to reveal full details.

Nonetheless, there were enough positive answers on the night, played out in a good atmosphere where everyone had the chance to pose their questions to the club’s chief executive.

Encouraging stuff from an era focusing on transparency and openness.

In that respect, Wednesday’s move should be applauded by supporters, even if numbers were restricted on this occasion.

What’s more, at least Lampitt was prepared to go into the lion’s den and face the music from some supporters.

Not everyone at the club can say they’re prepared to do the same.