Council backs bid by fans to buy a stake in Pompey

SUPPORT Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson
SUPPORT Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson
Jamal Lowe. Picture: Joe Pepler

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SUPPORTERS trying to take a financial stake in Pompey have been backed by the leader of Portsmouth City Council.

A coalition of fan groups are in discussions with local businesses in the hope of getting involved in the running of the embattled club.

Representatives from the Supporters’ Conference – which includes members of the Pompey Supporters’ Trust – have met local and national politicians for help and guidance in recent weeks.

They hope by joining with other local investors they could stabilise the club after current owners Convers Sports Initiatives (CSI) went into administration in November.

Administrator Andrew Andronikou revealed last week the club is still on the brink of collapse because it owes £1.6m to the taxman.

The leader of the city council, Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, said: ‘I have had many meeting with the supporters’ trust and I think it would be a really good thing if the fans had a voice in how the club is run.

‘If they could buy it completely that would be great, but I have never seen anybody with enough money to do that.

‘It would be good if fans were able to form part of a consortium to buy the club, so that they knew everything that was going on, because there is a feeling that fans have not always been told the truth by people who were running the club.’

Cllr Vernon-Jackson added that he was willing to look at a range of options for how to support the club, but ruled out using taxpayers’ money.

‘I’m happy to look at anything to help them,’ he said.

‘But the fans I have spoken to are very clear that they don’t think good money should be thrown after bad, and we can’t afford to do that.

‘What I am totally dedicated to is making sure we always have a football team playing in Portsmouth.’

He added that there is a clause in the Portsmouth Plan which prevents speculators buying Pompey just to sell its land.

He said: ‘Fratton Park can only be used as a football ground so it has no value to a developer who wants to come in and put houses on it. We have told every group that has tried to buy the club that they can’t develop the site unless they provide an alternative venue for a stadium.’

Scott Mclachlan, spokesman for Pompey Supporters’ Trust, said: ‘We have been talking to local and national politicians throughout the trust’s two-year history, not just since CSI went bust, and we have a really good relationship with them.

‘They’re always very, very helpful whenever we need any help or guidance.’