Catlin: Whirlwind changes since Trust took charge

Mark Catlin

Mark Catlin

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It was two months ago today when the fans were handed the keys to their club.

At the front of the queue of those waiting to get in was Mark Catlin, the man with the remit of overseeing the Pompey resurrection.

For seven months he had worked unpaid while gathering an understanding of the club’s mechanisms, self-funding his stay at Southsea guest houses and city hotels in the process.

Since April 19, as chief executive, Catlin has led the restructuring of a club steadily winning back the fans’ trust.

It’s early, early days yet but the feel-good factor around Fratton Park at present is tangible.

And Catlin is delighted with those first few steps taken on the long road to recovery.

He said: ‘The past two months have just gone so quickly.

‘Every day just flies by and if you look at my diary it is literally every hour there is meeting after meeting after meeting.

‘People tend to forget we came out of administration with no manager, no assistant manager, no team, no kit sponsor, no kit, no retail operation and no sponsors generally.

‘In addition, there was a demoralised workforce so we have had to work quickly to turn that around.

‘There were no e-mail messages going out, no marketing being done, nothing was booked for conference and banqueting, season tickets weren’t on sale.

‘It has been a lot of work but exciting.

‘I go to bed and there are still the likes of myself, Steve Tovey, Ashley Brown, Micah Hall, Tom Dearie, and a lot of other staff, still e-mailing each other at midnight or 1am.

‘I am up at 6am to come in just gone 7am and don’t leave here until about 7pm. I don’t have a lunch break, I have a prawn sandwich at my desk.

‘That doesn’t just apply to me, this is how people are working here, this is really what is going on here at the minute. That is the dedication shown by all the staff.

‘We are all one team so if things are going well off the pitch you will generally find things improve on it.

‘My job is to create the best environment that Guy, his team and all that come in here can flourish in. There is a bit of banter, everyone has a laugh.

‘If people go out to training with a big smile on their face they are going to train better and there will be a better atmosphere on match days.’

Among those brought in since the Trust won the ownership battle is Mike Hall, who is engagement manager.

Pompey director and Trust board member Mick Williams is also currently at the club on a day-to-day basis in a voluntary capacity to help during the transition period.

And Catlin is quick to stress none of the workforce have been made redundant since taking over.

He added: ‘Some people were told (by rumour makers) they would lose their jobs. That hasn’t happened.

‘We said right from the start there were no preconceptions. I had to come in here with a clean slate.

‘I take people as I find them and work with them. People have been absolutely brilliant with me and the club.

‘Nobody at this moment has been made redundant at all.

‘By nature I am not a cutter. I have bought businesses that have been failing, if you have got a failing business and keep cutting it fails even more. It is all about growing the business.’