'Adverse reaction' sees Portsmouth '125 Committee' cut ties with former Blues commentator

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The chair of the 125 Committee – an organisation set up to mark Pompey’s forthcoming quasquicentennial anniversary – has issued a statement regarding the use of former Express FM and Blues commentator Joe Michalczuk for planned projects.

Colin Farmery, who also heads up the Pompey History Society, has confirmed that the recently-formed group has ended its association with the individual following ‘some adverse reaction’ to his involvement.

Speaking at the recent Tony Goodall Fans’ Conference (TGFC), Farmery said the committee’s collaboration with Michalczuk – which would have seen him interview former players and people connected to the club for anniversary initiatives, including a podcast – had been sanctioned by all involved, including the Portsmouth Supporters’ Trust and Pompey in the Community.

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However, following the publication of the TGFC minutes from Saturday, January 21, and subsequent complaints made to both Pompey – who are not part of the 125 Committee – and the Trust, a decision has been made to end the arrangement.

This was confirmed in a statement issued by Farmey today (Saturday, January 28) which reads: ‘Following the publication of the Tony Goodall Fans’ Conference meeting minutes there has been some adverse reaction to the news that Joe Michalczuk was working with the 125 committee to produce an archive of former player interviews.

‘The Pompey History Society was leading on this area of work and had editorial control of it. The Pompey Supporters’ Trust, which is represented on the 125 committee, was initially not opposed to the project’s overall goals and objectives.

‘However, in the light of representations from a number of individuals made to both PFC and the PST, the trust has decided it can no longer support the project and, in consequence, given the PST’s ongoing backing was a prerequisite, the 125 committee Chair has brought the association to an end.

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‘The committee would like to thank Joe for his offer of a significant time and expertise commitment to the project which would have produced a significant archive for future historians.’

Plans are in place to mark Pompey's 125-year anniversary later this year    Picture: Naomi Baker/Getty ImagesPlans are in place to mark Pompey's 125-year anniversary later this year    Picture: Naomi Baker/Getty Images
Plans are in place to mark Pompey's 125-year anniversary later this year Picture: Naomi Baker/Getty Images

When asked at the Tony Goodall Fans’ Conference if Michalczuk ‘was the right person to be working on projects at Portsmouth Football Club?’, Farmery replied at the time: ‘Joe was a controversial commentator here 10 years ago. He was perceived to be a supporter of Balram Chainrai and anti-Supporters’ Trust ownership.

‘Last March, he phoned me and said he was doing a PHD in broadcast journalism and wondered whether I could help him get some interviews with former players as part of a project he was working on for his course.

‘I thought this could also be of value to us, as he was going to be spending a significant period of time working on this, so took the idea to the 125 committee. We had a discussion about it and invited Joe in to present to us. The idea is that he’ll be doing interviews with former players and people connected to the club and that the audio will then be archived and belong to the Pompey History Society.

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‘We’ll be managing the project and retain editorial control, and the club can then decide at the end if it would like to publish any final product which comes out of it.

‘Joe will be interviewing people about their time at Portsmouth – not offering his own opinions on the history of the club.

‘As Chair of the committee, I gave the group - and the Pompey Supporters’ Trust in particular - a veto from the outset if they felt involving Joe wasn’t appropriate.

‘They indicated that they were happy for us to continue, having heard the context of the project and knowing that the Pompey History Society were in control of it.’