Plea for Government to buy Fratton Park

PLEA The Government has been asked to buy Fratton Park
PLEA The Government has been asked to buy Fratton Park
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THE Government has been urged to buy Fratton Park to safeguard Pompey’s future.

City council chief executive David Williams and Portsmouth South MP Mike Hancock sent a joint letter to Sport England, the body that encourages sport in the UK, asking it to intervene.

Mr Hancock said a temporary purchase of Fratton Park from public funds would give former owner Balram Chainrai an exit route, potentially making the sale of the club easier.

He said: ‘We have got to do everything we can to help the club. We’ve written to Sport England asking it to consider temporarily buying the ground as a safety net for the future.

‘I don’t know if it is a possibility, but it would only be in the short term until a new owner can be found, then they could sell it on.

‘That would get Balram Chainrai out of the picture which might encourage someone else to come forward.

‘At this point it is only an idea, but I’ve been asking people to share whatever ideas they have.

‘Sport England is there to promote sport and a successful football club is great for sport involvement.’

The letter sent to Sport England said: ‘The council has effectively secured the ground from alternative investment, but the risk remains that access to the ground could be restricted while ownership remains unresolved.

‘We would be grateful for your advice on what support Sport England can provide to secure on-going access to the ground.

‘Clearly, securing the ownership of the ground would be the objective.

‘We’d be very pleased to meet to discuss this with you as a matter of urgency, bearing in mind that the administrators will soon be making their decision.’

It comes as Penny Mordaunt, Conservative MP for Portsmouth North, continues to press for a meeting between officials of HMRC and Pompey in an effort to give the club more time to settle its tax bill after the Prime Minister said in the Commons last week that talks should be held.

She said: ‘I’ll be raising the issue again on Thursday during a debate into a select committee report on football ownership.

‘A lot of people will be mentioning Pompey I’m sure, because it is one of the most current and extreme examples.

‘I’m confident HMRC will meet with the football club, it’s now just a matter of setting a date.’