Teenage Kicks: Pompey must stay put at the Park

West Ham fans at the Olympic Stadium
West Ham fans at the Olympic Stadium
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Pompey should stay at Fratton Park.

I am convinced our long-term success rests on staying put – contrary to popular belief within football in recent years that clubs can only progress by moving into a new modern stadium.

Thankfully, Pompey did not follow the trend over the last 20 years by relocating – admittedly not through the want of trying.

This is a blessing. The lesson of time has, in my opinion, underlined the importance of staying where you have always been.

Liverpool, instead of looking to move away from Anfield, opted to extend one of the stands – only adding to the special atmosphere created there.

The history, the memories, the identity of the club – all kept in that decision.

On the flip side there is West Ham.

Again, a rich history, with so many memories made at the Boleyn Ground.

That is gone forever. The atmosphere, too.

It’s early days but it really hasn’t been a great start for the Hammers in the Olympic Stadium – and I’m not talking about on the pitch, rather off it.

Many West Ham fans have raised concerns the atmosphere is flat and there is tension between home supporters.

I believe there is a strong argument now that clubs lose their soul by moving.

I bet if you ask followers of the likes of Milwall, Cardiff, Reading, Coventry and Bolton – clubs similar in stature to Pompey – whether they should have stayed at their original location, they would say a wholehearted yes.

Pompey do not want to see their long-term future confined to a plastic and concrete carcass.

A few weeks back I watched a Championship match between Cardiff City and Leeds United. Cardiff, arguably the biggest club in Wales, were playing in front of around 15,000 fans and 30,000 empty seats.

There was no noise, the atmosphere was non-existent. It was dead.

It makes for a poor spectacle.

I can’t imagine how painful it is for Cardiff fans inside the stadium.

Is this progress? Is this a necessary, compulsory step for football clubs?

No, I hope would be the answer to that.

Fratton Park is not separate from Pompey, it is part of it’s fabric.

The atmosphere, the history, it would all go if we moved.

I know the ownership will make the right steps and not make the mistakes other clubs have made.

Fratton Park needs renovation and it will need extension in order for the club to compete in the Championship.

But pitching up somewhere else, would be a step backwards.

Let’s keep our soul and stay at the Park.

Ben Sturt is 17 years old and has been a season-ticket holder in the Fratton End for more than a decade.

He writes a weekly column in the Sports Mail where he discusses the key talking points at Pompey – from the perspective of a younger supporter.