Pompey fans, business leaders and politicians will meet tomorrow to find out how best to save Portsmouth Football Club from going under.
The meeting will be hosted by The News in support of fans who have been working hard on plans to save Pompey should no financially-stable buyer emerge as the club faces the prospect of a winding up order over an unpaid tax bill of £1.6m.
Among those at the round table talks will be Mick Williams, Ashley Brown and Tom Dearie, who have been exploring options for the club’s future in the 12th man initiative masterminded by the Pompey Supporters Trust.
It comes six weeks after Pompey’s parent company, CSI, went into administration.
The fans’ plans are two-fold:
The first is to investigate whether there is support and funding for a straight forward community buyout.
The second, and the absolute last resort, is what’s been called Plan B.
That is where Portsmouth Football Club as we know it goes out of existence and a new club is formed with the intention of competing in the Blue Square Conference South.
The Pompey Supporters’ Trust says it is concentrating on the first option, but needs to investigate what might happen should the unthinkable happen and Pompey be liquidated.
It has launched pompeys12thman.co.uk as a place for every Pompey fan to pledge their support for their beleaguered club.
The News aims to help in any way it can as the trust seeks support from politicians and businessmen.
Tomorrow’s meeting will be attended by businessmen Gary Jeffries, managing director of Hughes Ellard commercial property agents and Mike Dyer, an expert in sports law from Verisona solicitors, Portsmouth City Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson and Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage.
Portsmouth’s MPs Penny Mordaunt and Mike Hancock both have unavoidable commitments elsewhere tomorrow but have pledged full support to The News in the effort to broker a secure future for Pompey.
The club says it plans to be represented at the meeting.
Pompey Supporters’ Trust spokesman Scott Mclachlan said: ‘Pompey is not alone in having a lot of diverse supporters’ groups and opinions, and the problem is, though the trust has got 1,200 members, we can’t claim to speak for the majority of fans.
‘So we’ve set up this website so that fans can put their details on there and if anything major happens with the club, we can push a button and the fans can be mobilised.’
They have been working with Supporters Direct, an organisation which aims to create the conditions in which supporters can secure influence and ownership of sports clubs.
Supporters Direct has been working alongside fans at Darlington Football Club, who have been desperately trying to raise money to save the club from going out of existence.
They’ve also been looking at models such as Swansea City Football Club, which 10 years ago this week was bought by a consortium of local business people and is 20 per cent owned by a fans’ group.
Back then the Swans were in the fourth division - now a decade on they are in the Premiership, winning against Arsenal at their plush Liberty Stadium.
The trust sees the club – in whatever guise – keeping its home at Fratton Park.
Mr Mclachlan said: ‘Not having a club at Fratton Park would be disastrous for the city.’
CSI has been the latest in a succession of disappointing owners since the high of the FA Cup win in 2008.
Pictured on the front page from the left are Sacha Gaydamak, Sulaiman Al-Fahim, Ali Al-Faraj, Balram Chainrai and Vladimir Antonov of CSI.
It is not now clear who will be the next owner, but fans have been flexing their collective muscle to be ready.