By Micah Hall
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HALL RIGHT NOW:The business of saving Pompey has no magic wand...
There are a few reasons to want a football club, but only one good one. You might want glory, you might want fame. Maybe you want to raise the profile of another business or even country.
You might just have an obscene amount of morally questionable money to spend. Most likely it is a combination of all these, probably laced with a smidgen of the worst possible reason: you think you can make loadsamoney out of it.
What is the good reason? It's simple: for the sake of the sustainability and growth of the club. This is why fans should think very carefully about the Trust effort to raise the money to buy Pompey. People who wish to sustain the football club for its own sake are also those who understand and respect its traditions. They are people who are willing to dedicate themselves to building the club over the short term, long term and wish to have their ashes scattered on the pitch when they die. People who aren't looking to take anything in return, except the joy of turning up to Fratton Park and watching a game of football with friends and family.
Despite widespread support for the Trust, I still hear people lobbing in ill-founded criticisms, that they aren't 'business people' and don't know what they are doing. Clearly, any objective analysis of the Trust committee shows several businessmen, prominent senior managers in industry, lawyers and sundry other professional qualifications. In addition, you will also find people who have a lifetime of loyal support for Pompey under their belts. The Trust has proper, professional advisers. “They aren't buying lottery tickets and whirling scarves round their heads” as one on-line sage pointed out this week.
Anyway, where does this respect for 'business people' come from? Let us look at the track record of the previous incumbents:
- Sacha Gaydamak: loaded the club with massive debt that he could not then sustain.
- Sulaiman Al Fahim: Eventually took over the club based on worthless letters of credit, allowed a massive spending spree for which we are still paying three years and two administrations later. Lasted a month before he ran out of money.
- Ali Al Faraj: Probably doesn't exist, certainly never showed up. Put a four-times convicted fraudster in charge of the finances, and racked up £1m in fines from the Premier League. Ran out of money within a month.
- Balram Chainrai: still the clubs largest creditor, is on the record as saying he never wanted to own a football club.
- CSI: tried to charge fans to watch their first interview. Racked up millions in unsustainable debt. Went bust within six months amidst a flurry of allegations and extradition warrants.
If we take Milan out of the picture, the two previous incumbents, the Deacons and Gregorys, also saw unsustainable investment in players, ridiculous prices, the near terminal decline of our stadium and bankruptcy.
A pattern is forming.
Some people say we need an 'investor' to make the club 'sustainable'. In fact, our track record with 'investors' has shown that it is 'investors' who make the club unsustainable. What Portsmouth Football Club needs is to not spend more money than it has, whatever the consequences on the field, and also to pay its bills to whomsoever they are owed and charge fans a price they can realistically afford to pay. The only time the club should be borrowing money is to back a credible business plan that increases revenue, NEVER to pay wages of players the club cannot justify owning.
If the Trust takes over Pompey I have no doubt that we are in for a few years of painful slog while the club is turned around. Of course people yearn for a magic wand solution, someone who will wave money at it. The trouble is that we have tried that, and almost all of our debt is owed to our last five owners.
Desirable or not, if a rich owner wants the club they will buy it and we will all have to live with it for better or worse. Until we see them sitting next to Trevor Birch though (and there's precious little sign of an orderly queue being formed), to protect the club you love and to begin the rebuilding of it's shattered reputation, back the Trust. Click here. You know it makes sense.
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The views of Mike Hall are his own and don't necessarily reflect the editorial view of pompey-fans.com
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