Catlin: Evolving base will ensure Pompey attract top players

From left to right: James Pollock, Mark Catlin, Kenny Jackett, Steve McLenaghan, Mark Kelly and Cllr Ken Ellcome. Picture: Steve Hill
From left to right: James Pollock, Mark Catlin, Kenny Jackett, Steve McLenaghan, Mark Kelly and Cllr Ken Ellcome. Picture: Steve Hill
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Mark Catlin believes Pompey’s ever-improving training ground will ensure the club can continue to attract top players.

The Blues’ Roko training base went through another stage of evolution on Thursday when they opened their new Academy facility.

The £270,000 fan-funded Tifosy project pitches have been purpose built for the young talents at the club.

It comes three years after Pompey secured a long-term deal to use the Copnor Road complex.

Catlin, inset, revealed the Blues’ training ground was a significant factor behind Kenny Jackett’s decision to take over as manager.

After signing the likes of Luke McGee from Spurs and Brett Pitman – regarded as a major coup – in the summer, Pompey’s chief executive feels the Roko base will maintain the Blues’ aim to keep attracting high-calibre players.

Catlin said: ‘When we were trying to get Kenny to come in, he didn’t take too long to look at the financial aspect of the deal.

‘The first thing he said to me was “I want to come and see your training ground”.

‘It was very important to him.

‘He’s been at some big clubs and to come here and say there was no issues for him was brilliant.

‘This is his place of work everyday and it’s the same when we are trying to attract players.

‘This is their place of work and we don’t want it to be like when we came out of administration.

‘Players were asking where our training ground was and we didn’t know where we would be in two weeks time – it was difficult to attract players.’

Having developed the likes of Conor Chaplin, Jack Whatmough and Adam May into the first team in 
recent years, the Blues want to continue that trend – which gives the club more scope with their player budget.

Joe Hancott also became Pompey’s youngest-ever player in Wednesday’s Checkatrade Trophy draw with Fulham under-21s.

New owner Michael Eisner has previously put an emphasis on youth.

The gradual next step would be to upgrade Pompey’s Category Three Academy to Category Two status as the club aims to continue their successful conveyor belt from the youth ranks into the first team.

Although it will need a significant financial investment and lengthy planning, Catlin insists that it is part of the club’s long-term plan.

He added: ‘Having this facility is something we all can be proud of. We are here for the long term.

‘With Michael coming in now, the facility can only continue to improve and move forward.

‘Category Two isn’t in the short-term plan at the moment.

‘What you need for that is significant financial investment.

‘Category Two involves having things such as indoor domes.

‘It’s a financial commitment and there aren’t many League One clubs who have a Category Two facility.

‘But, ultimately, that is the goal in the future.