AMBITIOUS Portsmouth Football Club is seeking to trademark the word Pompey as bosses eye an untapped market in merchandise.
Chief executive Mark Catlin acknowledged some may have concerns over the move, but vowed the club would be ‘good custodians’.
Existing businesses using the word Pompey in their name would be unaffected, with the trademark sought so the club can capitalise on success as it bids to progress back up the football pyramid.
It’s thought there is currently a ‘small’ market of unofficial merchandise.
Speaking from Los Angeles on a visit to owners Tornante, Mr Catlin said the move to trademark Pompey was akin to firms securing the .com or .co.uk website addresses to protect their brand.
Mr Catlin said: ‘We don’t envisage there will be any changes to the exiting relationship the club has with the city, this is simply a protection mechanism.
‘In its crudest sense it’s trying to stop street sellers selling scarves with Pompey on them with blue and white colours portraying them as official club scarves.
‘This just gives us a very simple route to take action against those people trying to trade off the club and the perception that they are an official affiliate of the club.’
The Blues are also bidding to trademark two logos with 1898 on them – referencing the year Pompey was formed – in addition to the words Portsmouth Football Club and Portsmouth FC.
Books, fanzines, online blogs, chat rooms and forums using Pompey would be fine – as long as they did not portray themselves as official. Firms setting up with Pompey in their name would be unaffected if they are nothing to do with football.
The trademark application, which could be finalised in two to three months, covers a wide variety of items, including badges, statues, cuff links, ties, watches, birthday cards, baby bottles, photographs and key rings.
In a move to reassure the club’s fans and businesses with Pompey in their name, Mr Catlin added: ‘Where a company is currently already trading as Pompey Tyres or Pompey Kebab House, it’s not our intention whatsoever to do anything about that.’
Asked how much Pompey are losing out to such unofficial merchandise, he said: ‘At this moment in time, very little.’
But Tornante said they were aware of traders selling merchandise with Pompey branding.
Mr Catlin said: ‘That will grow – the ambition and direction of directors of Portsmouth Football Club is to get the club back in the Premier League.
‘If we weren’t going to be doing that there wouldn’t be a lot of point in doing this.
‘Fans want that aspiration, they want that ambition, this is what comes along with that – we have to protect ourselves when we arrive there.’
He added: ‘Pompey is associated not just with the football club but with the city.
‘But if anyone is going to get this, ultimately from a club point of view we would want that to be us as we consider ourselves good custodians.’
And he said there was ‘huge untapped potential’ in merchandise for Pompey.
Experienced football trademark lawyer Gary Johnston, advising Pompey, said: ‘These applications are not there to encumber any of their ongoing trading activities whatsoever.
‘It’s clearly to protect the club and its fan base from counterfeit products, which can only do them harm.’