Why Matt Taylor believes it's crucial Portsmouth remain at Fratton Park
It’s imperative Pompey remain at Fratton Park.
That’s the emphatic verdict of former Blues favourite Matt Taylor, who believes modernising the historic stadium is the better solution rather than building a new ground elsewhere.
Since the Tornante Company’s takeover in August 2017, they’ve been making various developments at PO4, with the iconic floodlights being removed during the summer.
Staying at the 120-year-old venue is chairman Michael Eisner’s preferred choice, although chief executive Mark Catlin has previously said Pompey would keep ‘all options open’.
Taylor spent six seasons at the Blues between 2002-08, playing a key role when Harry Redknapp’s side claimed the Division One title during his first campaign.
He feels how close the fans are to the pitch often inimidates the away side, giving Pompey a significant advantage.
And he pinpointed West Ham’s decision to move from Upton Park to the Olympic Stadium hasn’t entirely worked out well.
Speaking to 888sport, Taylor said: ‘I played six years there and for me the ground was massively important to Portsmouth.
‘The fans are on top of you and behind you but are quite intimidating to away players so it’s imperative if they can to retain Fratton Park while making it as modern as possible.
‘I’ve seen it at another of my former clubs West Ham how much a move alters the match-day experience for fans. It alters what pub they go to. It alters where they meet each other.
‘Then you have the businesses in the area that rely on the club being there. For me it’s vitally important they try to stay there even if, as we know, the transport in and out isn’t the greatest.
‘But we can sacrifice that if it means staying at Fratton Park.’
Taylor was a firm favourite among the Fratton faithful, scoring 23 goals in 209 appearances.
His wonder strikes in the 4-1 win at Sunderland in October 2005 and 2-0 victory over Everton at Fratton Park in November 2006 are the two moments synonymous with his Pompey career.
Taylor lifted the lid on them both.
He added: ‘The one at Sunderland I wasn’t supposed to be playing that day but I got a late call and ended up scoring two and setting up two.
‘As for the volley I only shot because we didn’t have striker on the pitch at the time as he was off injured. I looked up and saw Kelvin Davis off his line. I was young and fearless and I just thought “hit it”. I cut across it and caught it perfect and it flew in.
“For the Everton goal Sol Campbell gave it to me in an area of the pitch where I wasn’t comfortable in and it just popped up for me. I didn’t think about it and if I did I wouldn’t have tried it.
‘I watched it fly in and it was all the sweeter because we were at home. It was an unbelievable feeling and I look back now and I’m really proud of the goals that I scored.’