Pompey have shown Leeds and Northampton there is life after the rogues

Blues chairman Iain McInnes celebrates the Pompey Supporters' Trust's takeover of the club
Blues chairman Iain McInnes celebrates the Pompey Supporters' Trust's takeover of the club

It was Ralph Cooke who posed the question.

Dated February 18, 2014, the article posted on sabotagetimes.com explored the legitimacy of owner-elect Massimo Cellino, even then a controversial figure.

Entitled ‘Why Cellino Is The Only Option For Leeds United’, among the issues the author addressed was that of the Italian’s fraud convictions.

‘My opinion is I’d love a squeaky clean Leeds owner – but there are not that many out there,’ wrote Cooke.

‘In any case, it’s not as if he’s killed anyone and the politics in Italy are very different to the politics in this country.

‘As I said before, the critical thing for me is what better option than Cellino is there out there. I don’t see any.’

It would be harsh to use hindsight to destroy Cooke’s arguments.

Certainly, he wasn’t alone in backing the arrival of a potential saviour following torturous times.

Still, 20 months later, Leeds Fans United are rallying admirably in an attempt to be that prized alternative.

Cellino may have gone back on his verbal promise to sell his shares to them, yet unlike him they cannot walk away.

Meanwhile, over at cash-strapped Northampton Town, their supporters’ trust are attempting to intervene amid a troubled backdrop resulting in the Professional Footballers’ Association paying the players’ wages.

Closer to home, for the past two-and-a-half years the biggest fan-owned club in the country have proven stability can be established.

Debt-free, self-sufficient, a new training ground and average Fratton Park home attendances of 16,150. Most important of all, the club remains in existence.

Even now there are stragglers clinging on to delusional denials that Pompey’s formerly-precarious position was never Trust or bust.

Of course, such people conveniently ignore the two-day High Court case in April 2013 when the administrators were ready to end it all and the Football League preparing for expulsion.

As for the Keith Harris consortium’s £6.3m offer for the Portpin charge, Mr Justice Peter Smith effectively screwed up the proof of funds and tossed it into the bin.

‘Is it just a snapshot of a bank statement?’ he said. ‘They’re not worth the paper they are written on.’

Back to the present, the Pompey Supporters’ Trust currently consists of 3,503 full members and 57 junior members. It owns £2.75m worth of shares in the club, equating to a 48.48-per-cent stake.

A total of three of their number sit on Pompey’s seven-man board, a board which also consists of three other life-long members of the Fratton faithful.

Admittedly, a third season in the bottom division has been frustrating, although a present placing of third tantalisingly suggests this may alter.

Yet the club possesses a foundation others can only envy – and has been accomplished by the fans.

So much for institutionalised snobbery centring on the myth only people blessed with footballing credentials are capable of running a club.

Supporters should be sat in the stands, they sneer. Leave it to those who truly understand the complexities, they patronise. Now run along.

However, good old-fashioned business acumen and impregnable honesty should never be dismissed courtesy of the flimsy reasoning spouted by those fearful of being ejected from the gravy train.

After all, Peter Storrie’s background consisted of several prominent roles in West Ham’s hierarchy, while at Pompey he was also among eight Premier League representatives sat on the FA Council.

His Fratton Park replacement, David Lampitt, served within the FA for six years, culminating in becoming its head of football integrity.

Strong footballing pedigrees – yet each was involved as chief executive during the club’s separate descents into administration.

Curiously, the ‘football people’ argument is scarcely flung in the direction of owners. Similarly, rarely is their motivation for becoming involved questioned.

As ever, perceived money and unfathomable riches smother such valid accusations.

Sacha Gaydamak was an infrequent attendee at matches, Ali Al Faraj never visited this country, while Sulaiman Al Fahim once requested for a match to be stopped so he could wave to fans from the directors’ box.

Vladimir Antonov, who is currently on the run following allegations of bank fraud, was more interested in fast cars.

Balram Chainrai was the alien in football rather than those supporters he ridiculed after daring to oppose a reign which saw him pass the Fit & Proper Person Test.

In contrast, Milan Mandaric was a genuine fan of football, albeit still retaining that insatiable and ruthless business drive.

As for managers – the ultimate football people – few succeed in their respective positions of power, regardless of their immense knowledge and experience in the game.

Of course, there will be mistakes along the way from supporters catapulted into unfamiliar boardroom surroundings of their beloved clubs.

Nonetheless, their very presence has been instigated by the large-scale failure of predecessors.

Fans should not be fearful of infiltrating the secret handshake club where they are stuffily informed they do not belong.

Sometimes the need arises to take a stand, to wrestle back the destiny of a club instead of relying on others with their disintegrating promises.

Acceptance can be just as destructive as change.

Pompey were the stricken crisis club widely derided and ridiculed during their plummet. Even fan ownership aspirations were mocked.

Today, many now cast admiring glances at what has subsequently been achieved by the Fratton faithful.

Leeds and Northampton – football wishes you well in the battles ahead.

There truly is life after the rogues.