Pompey explore possibility of American pre-season
POMPEY are eyeing resurrecting America as a pre-season destination.
Mark Catlin last week spent three days in New York, where he explored tour options for the summer of 2017.
Joined by wife, Elaine, with the trip funded entirely by the couple, the Blues’ chief executive used his stay to also carry out a fact-finding mission on the club’s behalf.
Catlin broached the possibility of a Pompey visit with New York Cosmos club officials, in addition to attending their match with Fort Lauderdale Strikers.
Inevitably, cost is prohibitive, with the Blues acknowledging the importance of identifying outside funding if to press ahead with such a tour.
Catlin has stressed the idea is presently at an exploratory stage, with plenty of factors still to be assessed.
However, he is convinced a return to the country Pompey last visited in July 2011 would be worthwhile.
He said: ‘America is an area we would look to go to in pre-season.
‘It’s a lot of ifs, buts and maybes, however there is desire from the board, desire from supporters, the manager and the team. Ultimately it will come down to whether we can get it funded.
‘It is not somewhere we have discounted as a possible pre-season, it is something we are looking at along with a number of other potential destinations.
‘We have a strong fanbase in the States and it’s great to build links and raise the profile of the club internationally, so this does tick a lot of boxes.
‘But, again I stress, it will come down to whether we can get it funded or sponsored.
‘America is a country becoming ever-more football mad, there is a genuine appetite for American fans to learn more about the English game.
‘Whether it is Ireland, Portugal or wherever, they have to be funded as well. However, the exchange rate means it us a bit prohibitive at the moment, it has made it very expensive.
‘Having spoken with our manager and a few senior staff, it seems there is an appetite to go to New York for obvious reasons.
‘I have already been contacted by loads of our supporters out there who are basically saying “Please let this be true”!
‘But at the moment it hasn’t gone further than me looking at facilities, going to see a Cosmos game and building relationships with their decision-makers.’
The Blues spent 12 days in Charleston, South Carolina, under Steve Cotterill in July 2011, playing two fixtures.
Cotterill was also at the helm in the summer of 2010, when Pompey visited San Diego, Ventura, Edmonton and Washington during an eventful trip.
Since then the club have ventured to Marbella, Colchester (twice), Portugal and the Republic of Ireland as part of their pre-season preparation.
Catlin added: ‘The club didn’t contribute anything towards our New York visit, I took it as a three-day break and paid it for myself.
‘I wanted to see if there was an opportunity for us to take a team out for pre-season and try to get a match or two in while over there.
‘We’ll just have to see what happens.’