Portsmouth sharedholders have voted to sell the club to US businessman Michael Eisner’s curiously titled ‘Tourante Group’.
Although their title of ‘community owned club’ was always stretching the definition a bit, they had in place various legal agreements that prevented the club changing hands, particularly important given the 48.25% held by the Pompey Trust, earned with such backbreaking effort back in 2013. It was something I was involved in on the Supporters Direct side back then, and I’m sure that there will be some sadness amongst others who were involved.
There are plenty – the majority of Trust members – who are hailing this as a big step forward in the club’s ‘recovery’, but the truth is that the club had already recovered, winning the title on the final day of the season just a couple of weeks back. They were getting their heads around how to run the place, which is never easy when you’ve had it land on your lap, weeks before the beginning of the season like they did.
In my view this is something of a triumph for ‘narrative’; a story that had established itself amongst many fans, and some of those around the club, that they wouldn’t, without great luck and effort, be able to overcome the difficult hurdles they had coming over the horizon. The desire to reestablish themselves in the second tier was almost overwhelming at times, but I don’t agree that these things couldn’t have been dealt with, provided the owners and fans remained together as they had done so amazingly from about 2011 when the club first collapsed.
There was some truth in it however – especially around being able to compete further up. Lots of clubs, even those owned privately, find it tough. Clubs like Fleetwood Town can rely on financing outside of the normal football business, and whilst Pompey have a very decent attendance, they have more things to spend it on, like an old, dilapidated stadium to renew.
These things are difficult to overcome when you’re owned in the way Portsmouth has been, but they’re not impossible, especially with the might of an entire city behind it. They wrested control of the club after all.
So I apologise if I’m not celebrating, because today is a little sad for everyone who like me, was willing Portsmouth to success.
However, never let one outstanding truth never be forgotten – like Chesterfield, the old Rushden and Diamonds, and Stockport County before it: that without the fans, and the efforts of each and every one who worked so hard, or put their hand in their pocket to buy a community share – and indeed, The EFL, FA, Premier League, Supporters Direct – there could well have ceased to be a Portsmouth.
I hope Michael Eisner looks after it.