MP backs supporters who want to buy stake to safeguard Pompey

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Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt has backed a move by Pompey supporters to take a financial stake in the embattled club.

In a letter to sports minister Justine Greening, she argues that it would benefit everybody to have Portsmouth FC partly under the ownership of fans. Part of the letter was read out in the Commons yesterday.

As the team’s future hangs in the balance, the Pompey Supporters Trust wants to become financially involved in the future.

The group said it wants to rein in the succession of wealthy but unreliable owners who have taken the club to the brink of bankruptcy.

Current owners Convers Sports Initiatives (CSI) went into administration in November and Pompey are now seeking a new buyer.

Meanwhile administrators are aiming to find an estimated £1.2m by April to pay the club’s only secured creditor, former owner Sacha Gaydamak.

In her letter, Ms Mordaunt wrote: ‘Fans and the club staff are right to feel disappointed after the extraordinary amount of work put in by so many people over the last 18 months to avoid closure and to rebuild the club.

‘The sense of despair is all the more acute as the fit-and-proper-person test was supposed to weed out unsuitable owners.

She added: ‘Those who invest in football clubs as a means of making money would do well to recognise that they have not simply put their money into a vehicle for profit, but in the collective identity of communities – in the bonds shared between generations of families.

‘It is this simple enjoyment of the game and love of the club for its own sake that makes supporters’ clubs appropriate participants in club governance; their sole interest is the club.’

She highlighted that in England and Wales there are already 90 supporters’ trusts with a minority stake in their club, of which 64 have a seat on the board, and 15 own or control clubs.

Ms Mordaunt continued: ‘It acts as a brake on reckless borrowing and spending and safeguards cherished historic features.

‘And it promotes pride in the club by its fans and increases attendance.

‘The professionalism with which the trust has conducted itself has been hugely impressive.

‘In my view the ideal scenario for Portsmouth FC owners would be a coalition of businesses and the trust.’

The Conservative MP said she has spoken to club chief executive David Lampitt about working with the trust in the new year to see how much could be raised by fans.

A statement from The Pompey Supporters Trust said: ‘The trust welcomes the fact that Penny Mordaunt is highlighting the plight of Portsmouth Football Club to the House and is happy that our local MP has praised the hard work and professionalism of PST since its formation in 2009.

‘The PST strongly agrees with the assertion that supporter involvement, via a financial stake in the club, would provide some protection from what has happened in the past and would allow the club to build a more secure long-term future.

‘On December 7 we announced that we had formed several PST working groups to look into the various scenarios that may face Pompey, given the financial uncertainties. We will continue to work on these plans in the coming weeks. We thank Penny Mordaunt for her strong support of PST and look forward to working with Penny in the coming months.’