Pompey to leave Eastleigh base and return to city

Pompey have used Eastleigh as their training base for the past 11 years
Pompey have used Eastleigh as their training base for the past 11 years

Pompey are to make a cost-cutting return to train at Fratton Park.

The Blues will leave their rented long-term base at the Wellington Sports Ground in Eastleigh and return to the city at the end of the month.

The news comes with the club battling to keep running ahead of the next High Court date on January 15, and a creditors’ meeting pencilled in for next Tuesday.

Plans are also being drawn up to use another site in the city for training, with University of Portsmouth’s Langstone Campus in Furze Lane a likely option.

The move will end an 11-year stay at Eastleigh and bring the club back to a PO postcode.

Caretaker boss Guy Whittingham admitted the financial issues at Pompey accelerated the decision. But he believes a return to Portsmouth had to happen and is long overdue.

Whittingham said: ‘We’ve always planned to get back into Portsmouth. We need to do that.

‘We’re Portsmouth Football Club and we need to get back into the city. So the decision has been made to leave the training ground at Eastleigh.

‘Fratton Park will be our base.

‘When I was playing here I cycled in from Anchorage Park and we went up to Moneyfields. We were a Championship side.

‘I don’t see a problem with it and the players won’t once they realise the facilities we can go to. It won’t be a problem.

‘But we’ll make sure they are well-organised and the same work is put into them in Portsmouth as what we’ve been trying to do at Eastleigh.

‘It’s a cost issue that has come into play a little earlier than we wanted to.

‘It’s always been planned, and, even if it happened mid-season, we said we’d try to do it properly.

‘Because of what’s happening off the pitch it’s a decision which has had to be made earlier. We’re doing it. It’s sooner than we thought but we have to embrace that.

‘Portsmouth is certainly where we need to be.’

It promises to be a frenetic period for Pompey’s on-pitch operation to make the exit from Eastleigh as smooth as possible.

The Pompey Supporters’ Trust are also playing a big part in helping in their return to the area.

The university is the preferred new training home for the current management team, but all options are being considered.

Whittingham said: ‘We’ve searched for sites and hopefully we’ll find those and settle in quickly.

‘It’ll work because you have the right people trying to make it work.

‘That’s not just the staff but also the supporters’ trust, who we’re working closely with.

‘It’s always been our aim to get back to Portsmouth. Even when Michael Appleton was here.

‘It’s ongoing about other sites. We can’t say too much.

‘We will find the right facilities. The university is one that has been mentioned before.

‘We’re hoping it’s there but if not we’ll find somewhere else and look at the options in the summer.’