Pompey fans are positive about takeover bid, but some wary after past disasters

POMPEY supporters are enthusiastic about the potential multi-million pound investment that a former Disney boss could bring to their club.

Tuesday, 21st March 2017, 12:08 am
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 11:03 am
Pompey fans at the FA Cup semi-final against Spurs at Wembley in 2010

The positive reaction came as The News exclusively revealed that ex-Walt Disney Corporation chairman 
Michael Eisner is in talks to take over the League Two club.

Long-term fan Bill Gillon was surprised by the news, but said he would support the bid if it was ‘genuine’.

Mr Gillon, who was formerly involved with supporter forum site Pompey Online, said: ‘If Mr Eisner has a genuine interest, then I would welcome his investment.

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‘Some fans will take this news with a degree of weariness, given the history of the ownership. However, I feel that there will also be those that will be open to change.

‘The trust will ascertain if it’s a genuine interest and, if it is, then I think fans should suspend weary thoughts.’

The potential move has also been welcomed by Bob Beech of support group SOS Pompey, but with caution and conditions.

He said: ‘SOS Pompey welcomes with caution any interest from a potential investor in Portsmouth Football Club.

‘We welcome it because it means hard work carried out by the likes of Mark Catlin, the board and the Pompey Supporters’ Trust has turned the club from a toxic brand into a viable business investment.

‘However, we call on all Pompey fans to view any potential owner with some caution. We do not in any way say Michael Eisner is bad for the club, but we’ve seen in the past those with bigger mouths than wallets.

‘Our club has been taken to the brink too many times to simply sell out to the first bidder now.

‘This isn’t to say we don’t recognise the need for investment that any club with a degree of ambition needs, and if Mr Eisner is the real deal then the door should not be slammed in his face just because of the work done to save the club by us, the fans.

‘We ask those negotiating the deal to place the following conditions firmly on the table: No debt should be leveraged on to the club as part of the takeover; the club investigates making Fratton Park an asset of community value; and that at least one member of the Pompey Supporters’ Trust board remains as a director of the club.

‘We have open minds towards any takeover, but as we have shown in the past, we won’t stay silent if the deal isn’t right for the club or the fans.

‘We welcome Mr Eisner to Portsmouth, but we will not be fooled by those wearing a Pompey scarf and making the right noises.

‘We have seen all of this before, and we await to hear his plans for our club.’

Similar views were expressed by Basher Benfield, chairman of Pompey Disabled Supporters’ Association.

He said: ‘I’m quite happy with it. It has got to be the right person though, and he can’t lend the club money. We can have it in equity or he gives it to the club.

‘Many people have come in with promises, but these have been hollow promises. We need fans represented on the board so we don’t lose the heart of the club.’

Councillor Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council, said Mr Eisner’s investment was a ‘potential game-changer’.

She said: ‘Pompey is one of the oldest football clubs in the country and boasts a long and proud history.

‘What the Pompey Supporters’ Trust and club have achieved over the past six years is amazing.

‘Rescuing the club from the brink of bankruptcy and taking it to a point of major investment is inspiring.

‘Mr Eisner is a potential game-changer. To reach top flight football again, clearly the club needs a substantial amount of investment and if this is what the board and supporters’ trust decide to do, he could be a dream buyer.’

On social media, the fan reaction was mixed.

Kieran Brockerton-Baker said on Facebook: ‘Fan ownership is never going to get us back into the big time. It can only take us so far. So long as all checks were done thoroughly, I would be all for this!’

Antony Scott Rose agreed, posting: ‘We have to have long-term ambitions of being back in the top flight.’

However, Den Miller was against the proposed takeover, posting: ‘He can clear off. I’m a shareholder and am happy with the club as it is.’