Pom­pey have lift off – by do­ing it right way

The Football League Paper - - INSIDE - Chris Dunlavy

FOR­GET Harry Kane’s de­but. For­get Eng­land’s sur­pris­ingly com­pe­tent dis­play against Italy. If you’re af­ter the week’s truly up­lift­ing story, the grimy depths of League Two is where it’s at. Portsmouth’s an­nounce­ment of a £118,000 profit is hardly likely to hit the back page of The Sun. Nor will it blaze on the break­ing news ticker at Sky Sports News.

But for a club that came so close to obliv­ion on so many oc­ca­sions, a re­turn to the black is hugely sig­nif­i­cant.

It won’t bring back the lost years of shame and mis­ery. It won’t bring back Pre­mier League foot­ball or FA Cup fi­nals. It cer­tainly won’t bring back the lo­cal busi­nesses sent to the wall when for­mer own­ers re­neged on pay­ments, or sat­isfy the cred­i­tors paid pence in a pound.

But it does show, for the first time in al­most a decade, that the club is owned by peo­ple who gen­uinely care if it lives or dies.

Plenty sneered when a group of 2,368 fans of­fered to save the club from liq­ui­da­tion in April 2013, each pledg­ing around £1,000 to raise the £2.75m needed to prise Frat­ton Park from the par­a­sitic paws of for­mer owner Bal­ram Chain­rai.

Chain­rai – whose own bid was re­jected by cred­i­tors – claimed that the sup­port­ers had “no sub­stance” and that they would “ratchet up costs for years to come”.

But now, with the as­sis­tance of 13 other ‘pres­i­dents’ from busi­ness and in­dus­try, the Pom­pey Sup­port­ers’ Trust have turned a club syn­ony­mous with reck­less­ness and may­hem into one that is debt free and prof­itable.

There are many who will never for­give Pom­pey for the suc­cesses wrought of debt and de­cep­tion, nor for the pain and suf­fer­ing caused by their col­lapse. None of us should for­get. But no son should be blamed for the sins of his fa­ther. The peo­ple now man­ning the tills at Frat­ton Park – from CEO Mark Catlin and chair­man Iain McInnes to the thou­sands of pun­ters who make up the PST’s 52 per cent share – are do­ing things prop­erly.

It isn’t glam­orous. At first, the club was bereft of a train­ing ground, com­mer­cial part­ners and even an of­fi­cial kit sup­plier. Things have im­proved this year, but the club re­mains one run on cash­flow and char­ity. They spend only what they earn.

But that in it­self is a pos­i­tive sign. No longer are Pom­pey the play­thing of chancers spend­ing money they don’t have on baubles and trin­kets.

Those gleam­ing golden roots barely scratched the top­soil. The PST are made of earth­ier stuff but the foun­da­tions they are build­ing will, in time, reach deep.

It is just 13 years since Swansea found them­selves in an iden­ti­cal po­si­tion; a di­lap­i­dated club in a di­lap­i­dated ground, res­cued from ex­tinc­tion by fans who re­fused to let them die.

Now they are head­ing for the high­est Pre­mier League fin­ish in their his­tory with a League Cup in the cabi­net and a UEFA rank­ing that rates Garry Monk’s men the 89th best side on the con­ti­nent.Yet Swansea still run within their means and are still 20 per cent owned by sup­port­ers.

That’s how far a bit of pas­sion, prag­ma­tism and love can get you. That’s how far Pom­pey can go. Only next time, it’ll taste so much sweeter for hav­ing done it the hard way.

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