What next for the Pompey Trust?

Pompey Supporters Trust chairman Ashley Brown, left, with club chairman Iain McInnes
Pompey Supporters Trust chairman Ashley Brown, left, with club chairman Iain McInnes

The document consists of seven pages, a strategic six-point plan designed to reinvigorate and inspire.

Next month marks three years since the Pompey Supporters’ Trust became the single largest shareholder in the football club, courtesy of that remarkable High Court triumph.

Today their ownership stands at 48.48 per cent, watered down a little following increased investment from several members of the club’s board.

A turbulent past 12 months witnessed the death of Trust chairman Ken Malley, in addition to the resignations of four board members.

Yet on Monday night, 300 fans gathered at Fratton Park’s Victory Lounge for the unveiling of a blueprint formulated to demonstrate the Trust’s desire to remain progressive.

It sets out six key areas of focus up to the end of the 2016-17 financial year. Aims include seeking a future investment model for the club, identifying stadium development options, supporting the Academy, increasing youth involvement and enhancing Pompey’s links with the community.

Finally, the strategic plan states the requirement to boost a Trust membership presently containing 3,755 adult and 89 junior members.

For chairman Ashley Brown, the Trust continues to remain an integral part of Pompey’s development.

He said: ‘I don’t think we need to show we are still relevant, although some people need reminding we are a group which has a significant influence on the way Pompey is run.

‘We own 48.48 per cent of the club and have three members on the board – that in itself defines us. But some people do need reminding.

‘The Trust played a massive role in saving the club and represents a good proportion of the supporters. We see ourselves as still playing a key part in the club’s future.

‘The importance of putting forward supporters’ views to the main board should never be underestimated.

‘On Monday night we had 300 present – as many as we could fit in – and that shows these people recognise how important we are.

‘The Trust still has a massive input, you are talking to somebody who sits on Pompey’s board so knows the inner workings of the club.

‘In turn, I listen to my own board of the Trust – and to our members in forums such as Monday night.

‘We are not a membership group which is going to give you a free scarf for joining or who meet up on a Saturday night in the pub to talk about the game.

‘We are about driving the way our club goes forward, the way it is run.

‘If you want to have a say about how your club is shaped in the future then you can feed that view by joining the Trust.’

The Trust’s desire to consult supporters on the issue of the 118-year-old Fratton Park’s future has prompted the launch of a stadium sub-group.

A Pompey Stadium Working Group has already been created, involving club chairman Iain McInnes, Trust board member Mike Saunders and Peter Lee, a club president.

A registered architect, Saunders is also heading a Trust sub-group striving to recruit members to shape the approach to plotting Fratton’s destiny.

Saunders added: ‘Some clubs have redeveloped over the years and not taken on what fans have wanted. We want our fans actively involved.

‘It would be good to get those whose skillsets are relevant. There were two Portsmouth City Council planners present on Monday night, maybe they can start dialogue with the council or give us input from experience.

‘The pair have worked on this kind of thing for the last 20 years and know the history. One had meetings with Peter Storrie for the Hard scheme.

‘There will also be fans with an opinion. Some have good ideas and we need to hear them.

‘We’ve already had more than 50 people volunteer but you don’t want to be designed by committee, so need to keep numbers for the group reasonably small. We’ll see how it goes.’

In addition, The Trust have identified a ‘missing age group’ of 16-24 year-olds whose Fratton Park absence continues to concern.

That led to the creation of PST Next Generations in January, consisting of 13 supporters under the age of 25, with Bradley Saunders subsequently co-opted onto the Trust board.

The 19-year-old apprentice electrician from Hilsea is eager for change.

He said: ‘I suppose I am a very rare breed at Fratton Park. There are not nearly as many young supporters as they should be, we don’t see the kids any more.

‘Instead they are brought up on TV football and I want to change that.

‘You shouldn’t be getting kids walking round with Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal shirts on. I don’t want to see someone wearing a Barcelona top with Messi on the back – I want a Pompey shirt with Gary Roberts on.

‘At Monday’s Trust event there were four people around my age. That is not brilliant really.

‘I would like to work with Clare Martin in the community, bringing a fresh perspective to get more kids in the city supporting the club again.

‘When I was a kid I used to love walking up the Fratton end steps on a match day with my dad, but you don’t really see it nowadays. It’s sad.’

The Trust are hopeful initiatives to give discounted pricing to young fans wanting to attend in groups will this summer be adopted by the club.

In addition, a Trust Wall of Fame is to be introduced to the North stand for the start of the 2016-17 campaign, namechecking all 2,426 shareholders.

Trust-instigated change appears to be remain active.

Brown added: ‘We inherited a club in a mess and had to do a lot in two years to get it sorted out.

‘The Trust also experienced some problems in the last year or so, but we have come through that and are at a point where things have settled down.

‘We have solid foundations – and have to look to build on them.’