Portsmouth chief executive Mark Catlin outlines Tornante's continued Fratton Park investment

Mark Catlin has outlined Tornante's continued Fratton Park investment as Pompey's owners bid to make the club's 120-year-old home fit for the 21st century.

Tuesday, 19th November 2019, 4:45 pm
Updated Tuesday, 19th November 2019, 4:45 pm

The Blues chief executive has revealed a figure close to £5m has already been ploughed into ground improvements since Michael Eisner & Co took control in August 2017.

That includes the recent completion of extensive work to the South Stand - a project which incorporated a new roof, cladding to enhance the back of the structure and new floodlights.

Meanwhile, as the club prepares to offer supporters their first glimpse of artist impressions of a new Milton End, it was revealed last week that properties neighbouring the Frogmore Road Stadium had been purchased with Tornante's Fratton Park vision in mind.

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There remains no certainty that the Blues will remain at PO4, with Catlin admitting the potential redevelopment of Fratton station is key to ambitions.

However, the Pompey chief said the potential of moving elsewhere hadn't stopped the owners from putting major investment into the famous old ground.

And in response to those who have questioned the amount spent on such schemes, he gave an insight into work that has already been carried out to ensure Fratton Park was a safe and welcoming environment for fans and employees alike.

Pompey's Fratton Park ground

Catlin said: That's one of my frustrations – the perception (that little has been down stadium-wise) – and I think, to a degree, it's agitated by a just a handful of people to suit their own agenda.

'But the realities are different.

'I made clear during Michael's attempts to purchase the club that if we stayed under community ownership there was a requirement for at least £5m to be spent on the stadium in the next five years.

'People at the time were sceptical of that figure, but let's just say a figure similar to that has been invested already in the first two-and-a half years of Michael's ownership.

Pompey chief executive Mark Catlin

'So I underestimated it – It was actually more.

'However, in my defence, not all of it has been emergency health and safety work.

'A huge part of it has been spent on that.

'But if you look at things like the big screen, the shop refurbishment, some strategic purchases, then we probably would have been bang on with what I said the requirement was.

Michael Eisner, right, with Andy Redman and Eric Eisner

'So £5m was required just in regards to emergency health and safety work over a five year period.

'I won't go into exact figures (on current spend) but it's a figure not far short of that amount.

'And there's a lot of stuff that you don't even see.

'There's been roof work done on the Fratton End to make it a better experience for our disabled fans – the roof was extended.

'As part of the main infrastructure, health and safety work as seen the removal of the floodlights which were proving to be hazardous and decaying rapidly.

'With the South Stand, there's been a complete new roof, the cladding at the back has all been changed, everything has been rewired throughout, and the big-money items unfortunately are not things the fans specifically see.

'The steel works – the main support beams that hold up stands – they've all been dug out, replaced, reinforced and strengthened – and just one beam is a big-ticket money item.

'So there has been a lot of work done.

'There's also been a programme of seat refurbishment that’s been going on throughout the stadium, water pipes underneath the ground that have decayed have been replaced, pipes that were leading to leaks and huge water bills, so there's been a lot of things done that you don't even really see.'

Catlin added: 'The shop, the large screen, the Fratton End concourse being refurbed, some of our corporate hospitality lounges have also been refurbed.

'People didn't realise, every time it rained our changing rooms, the Chines Bar, they were all flooded.

'Kev's kitroom, also – these were all flooding on a regular basis just with a minimal amount of rain, so there's been a lot of work just to make these secure.

'There's ongoing work as we speak at head office to make it a more functional place, and again, this is a lot of the work that was needed.

'So if you look at it, if you're building a house, these are the foundations.

'So the foundations have been built, you don't see a lot but now we're getting to the situation where we can move to the next stage.'

Solid foundations have also been built financially.

For example, Tornante's influence helped bring in Nike as the club's main kit suppliers, a new shirt sponsorship deal was struck with the University of Portsmouth, while the design of two new club crests were introduced to commercially protect the club going forward.

Such ventures have helped bolster the Blues’ coffers further.

And Catlin admitted the club's accounts were good as they continued under the Eisners’ watch.

He added: 'Just look at the company accounts and look at the company accounts moving forward, how much money is being put into the club via capital investment.

'The accounts are out every year and we stand by the accounts.'