Comment: Pompey fans, the choice is yours!

The fans decided to save their football club '“ now the fans will choose its next owner.

Tuesday, 21st March 2017, 6:00 am
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 11:06 am
American billionaire Michael Eisner

Michael Eisner has emerged as a potential investor in the biggest community-led club in the country.

The American billionaire’s entrance would mean the removal of the ownership model which not only saved Pompey from liquidation, but established it as debt-free and turning in annual operating profits.

Yet the desire for greater financial back-up and ambitions of residing in the Championship and beyond have resulted in Mr Eisner’s approach being entertained.

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After almost four years, massive change could be on its way to the Fratton boardroom.

As it stands, the former Walt Disney Corporation chairman is locked in negotiations to secure a club whose football team he has watched in action several times this season.

There is no agreement in place, no terms have been finalised, talks are ongoing and progressive.

In truth, approaches from numerous interested parties have been received by the board since seizing control at the High Court in April 2013.

However, Mr Eisner and his investment group, Tornante, have progressed considerably further than any of them. The situation has entered uncharted territory.

The 75-year-old represents an impressive and credible candidate, while his business background and reputation are, on the surface, nothing short of outstanding.

Should a deal be struck, fans will then be presented with the opportunity to deliver their own verdict. Those shareholders among the Fratton faithful will, ultimately, have the final vote on the subject.

Yet the necessity for increased financial muscle in the future is undeniable.

Should Pompey reach the Championship employing the fan-ownership model it will be impressive, remaining there would be against all odds.

A thousand more away followers every fortnight will not sufficiently swell the Fratton coffers to maintain a highly-competitive player budget.

It has been stated the average wage bill in the Championship is more than £20m. At Pompey, it is understood to be in the region of £2m.

Then there’s Fratton Park, in desperate need of a new North Stand and rebuilt Milton End if the club decide to focus on staying.

How to unearth the tens of millions required to fund such crucial ground improvements is the crucial question.

Of course, the club has thrived in the hands of the current board and presently sits third in League Two with an excellent chance of promotion.

There is stability, a connection with supporters and average home attendances at their highest since departing the Premier League.

The alternative is returning to an overseas owner, reigniting painful memories of the wrongs committed by those who possess no links to the newest interested party.

So it will be over to the Pompey fans – the choice really is yours.