He could have joined Premier League giants - but leaving for another club 'would've felt like cheating' for Portsmouth CEO
Mark Catlin has told how his bond with Pompey meant he could never work at another football club.
The Blues chief executive yesterday announced his is to step down from his role after eight years, as he is replaced by MK Don executive director Andrew Cullen.
The bombshell news emerged days after Pompey failed in their bid to make it to the Championship at the fourth attempt, after not reaching the play-offs.
Catlin told The News, however, his resignation was a decision which was two years in the making, although he will remain on the board as director moving forward.
A role as general manager with Topps - the Michael Eisner-owned company renowned for sports trading cards - now awaits Catlin.
It’s an exciting move for him, but one which takes him away from the day-to-day business of running a football club.
It’s understood the former Bury director has turned down positions elsewhere to do that in recent years - including one role at a massive Premier League club.
But the man who arrived in 2012 to help the Pompey Supporters’ Trust as the Blues fought for survival was adamant he could never work at another club.
Catlin said: ‘The thought of going to another club has never sat right with me.
‘I feel I’ve invested so much energy and emotion into Portsmouth and that relationship. It’s like a marriage - and going to another club would’ve felt like cheating.
‘It’s an emotional time, but I feel I leave the club in a strong position.
‘You can only judge what has taken place here on the facts.
‘The facts are we are debt free, won a league title, had two Wembley final appearances and with the exception of this season have consistently improved our league position.
‘That has always been a big tick for me, but the fact that hasn’t happened this year isn’t a reason for me stepping down. That would have happened if we made the Championship, it was always in my mind to do that.
‘We have been an upward-looking club in my time here.
‘After we sorted the club’s financial position, we’ve never been in a relegation battle at any time, we’ve always been at the top end.
‘The season tickets since I first arrived have gone up a huge amount, we’ve got great sponsors in the University of Portsmouth and a great team here behind the scenes at the club - which is up there with the Premier League sides in quality.
‘We are proud of what we have achieved.’
Catlin will leave his position at the end of the month, but believes he does so with Pompey on a sound footing and light years away from the desperate struggles they faced when he arrived.
Given that’s the case as the world has fought a global pandemic which has led to the club haemorrhaging £700,000 per month through the Covid pandemic gives further cause for satisfaction.
Catlin added: ‘So many clubs I speak to are facing a monthly scramble to be able to pay salaries.‘We thankfully, through financial prudence and Michael Eisner’s backing do not have to worry about that. There’s not many clubs who can say that.
‘There’s been nearly £10m spent of Fratton in my time here keeping it open, and there’s going to be a lot more spending in the future.
‘We are in a fantastic position and there are a lot of things in the pipeline.
‘The foundations are in place and there’s an exciting time ahead for Portsmouth Football Club.’
A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron
The News has launched a subscription offer which gives you unlimited access to all of our Pompey coverage, starting at less than 14p a day.
You can subscribe here to get the latest news from Fratton Park - and to support our local team of expert Pompey writers.