Council considers bid for Fratton Park if Pompey are liquidated

Portsmouth city Council may look to buy Fratton Park if the club goes into liquidation
Portsmouth city Council may look to buy Fratton Park if the club goes into liquidation

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POMPEY’S home Fratton Park could be bought by Portsmouth City Council – but only if the club is liquidated.

Council leader Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson stressed the authority is not in negotiations to buy the ground, but could place a bid if the club folds.

The announcement comes after Portsmouth Conservative group tabled a motion seeking the council to buy Fratton Park.

But Cllr Vernon-Jackson said the idea had already been discussed with Pompey administrator Trevor Birch, former chief executive David Lampitt and members of the Pompey Supporters’ Trust.

He said: ‘We have been in discussions about it for months.

‘A better group of people to buy the ground would be PST so that fans could own it and have a stake in the club.

‘My understanding is Fratton Park is 100 per cent owned by the football club and there exists a charge over it by the main creditor, Mr Chainrai.’

He added the land has to be used as an open area sports ground due to restrictions imposed in the council’s Portsmouth Plan and believes Fratton Park could be worth around £1m to £1.5m if it goes to auction.

PST spokesman Scott Mclachlan said: ‘We agree the club should be in the hands of the supporters, but we realise saving the club is the most important target in the next few weeks.

‘We feel there is a possibility the council buying the ground brings more scope for the city working together to achieve a community buy-out as a whole.’

Cllr Steve Wemyss, of the Portsmouth Conservative group, said its tabled motion will be debated on March 20.

It states: ‘The council has long recognised the benefits the club provides to the city in terms of economic stimulus and increased public profile.

‘If it ceases to exist and Fratton Park is in the ownership of someone other than the club, they could seek to redevelop it for some other purpose on the basis the policy is void as the council cannot reasonably preserve the land for use by an organisation that doesn’t exist.’

Cllr Wemyss added: ‘It’s not about bailing the club out but it’s a happy by-product. It’s to protect it from a developer coming in and building on it.’

He said securing the ground would provide a newly formed Pompey – a Plan B scenario if the club is liquidated – a venue to play in.

Meanwhile, the FA has responded to the government’s call for an inquiry into the way football is governed.

It says it will ‘review the ways in which meaningful and direct financial support could be provided to support cooperatives that have credible plans to own and operate a club following an insolvency.’