TAXPAYERS have criticised Portsmouth City Council’s £1.4m pledge to help save Pompey – but fans trying to buy the club say they have seen a huge surge in support.
The local authority was sent 10 comments from members of the public both before and after it decided to provide the Pompey Supporters’ Trust with a bridging loan to help it take over at Fratton Park.
All of them were raising concerns over the decision, which was unanimously taken at a special meeting of the full council on August 9.
Fears included the possible cost to the taxpayer if the money can’t be repaid, the other uses the money could be put to, and the belief that nothing will stop the club from going bust.
One correspondent, Mr Harper, wrote: ‘Your decision to grant a loan of almost £1.5m to the Pompey Supporters’ Trust is truly staggering in its hypocrisy.
‘It matters not what terms and conditions you have applied to this loan, the fact remains that it is coming out of council tax payers’ money at a time when we are constantly being told that there is no money available for more essential services and further cuts however painful are necessary, such as bowling greens and swimming pools.’
Mrs L Williams wrote: ‘Did you ask the people of Portsmouth if their money could be used this way? Will this be a guaranteed investment?
‘I do not want any of my money to be used for football, which appears to me to cost the city money in policing, traffic jams and (has) a reputation for drunks causing problems.’
But both the council and the supporters’ trust have repeatedly defended the loan.
They insist the benefit to the city of having a football club far outweighs the expense of the loan.
Colin Farmery, spokesman for the fans’ group, added that the loan would be paid back in full and would not end up costing the city a penny.
‘Since Portpin withdrew their bid, just before the start of the season, we have seen a sea change in our support,’ he said.
‘A lot of people who had been sceptical about both offers seemed to decide ours was the best way forward.
‘That was the turning point and we are now seeing a lot more people speaking up for us on forums and internet message boards.’
He added: ‘We are going to use this money to turn Portsmouth Football Club into something sustainable which we can all be proud of.’