This club will never be put in a position where it could be lost again - Mark Catlin's legacy as he pays tribute to people of Portsmouth
Mark Catlin paid tribute to the people of Portsmouth for their role in saving their football club as he stood down as its chief executive.
And the man who helped guide the club from the brink of extinction into the hands of American billionaire Michael Eisner through community ownership, believes those gargantuan efforts have ensured Pompey will never face such dark times again.
Catlin today delivered the bombshell news he is to leave his position after eight years at the end of the month, to take up a role with The Topps Company - the Eisner-owned business renowned for sports trading cards - as general manager. He will remain as a Pompey director.
In that time the 55-year-old has helped rid the club of £8m in legacy debts and consistently post profits off the pitch, while on it Pompey won the League Two title in 2017, reached two Wembley finals - winning the Checkatrade Trophy in 2019 - and made it to the play-offs on three occasions.
That journey has helped the Londoner develop what he believes is a ‘unique’ relationship with his adopted city and its club’s supporters, with Catlin believing he can reflect with pride on the progress the club has made.
Catlin said: ‘We are proud of what we’ve achieved and I have to thank the people of Portsmouth for their help in ensuring Portsmouth Football Club is where it is today.
‘The club can now stand on its own two feet and it will never be put in a position where it could be lost again.
‘I’ve developed a lot of good friendships in my time here - it feels I’ve had a unique relationship with the fans and people of Portsmouth.
‘I feel I’m leaving in a really positive way with the club in a strong position to move forward.
‘There’s been ups and downs, but there’s been a lot more ups and I’m appreciative of the support I’ve had.
‘And we have amazing owners who are honest and truthful, everything Pompey fans and this city craves.
‘They will always step in to make sure this club is in a secure position. They are great people with great knowledge and skill.
‘The club is debt free and I feel there are great foundations to move forward.
‘When you talk about achievements, I would class overseeing the transition from fan ownership to Michael Eisner and the board as one of the real high points.
‘We’ve upheld the principles that were there when I was first accepted as part of Portsmouth.
‘We were in a position of financial difficulty, and I leave the role knowing I can go to bed at night and sleep well.
‘We own Fratton Park, we are debt free, we are consistently breaking even, we’ve spent nearly £10m on Fratton and acquisitions in my time here.
‘There are a lot of exciting things in the pipeline, which would’ve been nice to announce - but we have to get everything right on them first.
‘It’s been great to work with our owners over the past four years - as it was with the presidents and the trust before them.
‘It’s been a team effort as a club - and a team effort as a city.’
Catlin will remain in his role until the end of the month when he will be succeeded by MK Dons executive director, Andrew Cullen, as chief executive.
He will continue to live in the city where he was given an honorary award from the University of Portsmouth in 2019, after taking up his position with Topps at the start of June.
And Catlin explained he intends to continue watching Pompey and nurturing his relationship with supporters.
He said: ‘I’ve loved it here.
‘I see what goes on with other clubs and the relationship I have with the fans, I don’t think that is necessarily a normal thing at other clubs - so that is something I will cherish.
‘I will love coming back, shaking hands and having the hugs with everyone.
‘The appreciation is mutual. My respect for our fans and the city is as strong as it’s ever been.
‘I will go around still wearing clothes with the club’s crest on - and I will continue to be proud of Portsmouth Football Club and this city.’
A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron
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