Update: I never did get a reply to this from any of them! Thank God the plan was approved anyway.
I hope you have all had a chance to read the papers for tomorrow’s extraordinary Council meeting on the request for a loan facility by the Pompey Supporters’ Trust in the event that their bid for Portsmouth FC is accepted. As a resident of St Jude’s, I am emailing you to urge you to support the loan request.
Portsmouth FC is a major asset to economic life of the city. Were the club in its current incarnation to collapse in liquidation, it is possible that it will not be replaced at all, or at anything like the current level of competition or profile, or be replaced with an organisation that is forced to play its games outside the city boundaries for some time. There will be a loss of income to many local businesses, and several of our community pubs in the area will be forced to close because matchday trade makes a big contribution to their viability. A “reborn” Pompey would not be able to compete before the 2013/14 season, in uncertain circumstances and without being able in the medium-term to generate the sort of economic and social benefits that the existing club provides.
Portsmouth FC is also an incalculably important contributor to the city’s cultural and social life. It is a little-known fact that the biggest art gallery in the city is found on the walls around the outside of Fratton Park, where young people have celebrated its past successes and enmesh the club in the modern social context through street art, in partnership with the club. The role the club plays in the community has only recently been recognised through the “Football League Family Club of the Year”, which our club won. The boost to social cohesion provided by sport is well-documented at all levels of activity.
In the event that a Supporters’ Trust bid goes to the final stage, it will be because the other bidder, Portpin, has failed. The Trust have had to work with a minimum of co-operation from PKF at the club, as the “Item 5” document circulated to you for the extraordinary meeting makes clear. Portpin have always been the administrator’s “preferred bidder”. Even so the bid itself is of the highest quality, well-structured and competent to a degree deserving of your support and capable of managing the club and its finances. It is a professional bid put together by a team of people with real business experience and with the support of highly-qualified advisors.
I’d invite you to contrast that bid with some other recent financial decisions taken by PCC, such as the ongoing support to the operators of the Pyramids – about the same level as that being sought by PST, or the considerable expenditure in pedestrianising Palmerston Road to little good effect – a loan to the Supporters’ Trust has much greater proportional benefit to the community and would be guaranteed against default in strong terms, as the “Item 5” document makes clear.
Portsmouth is in competition with some very strong communities in the South for consumer spend, tourism, cultural activity, and economic growth. There are few better ways of maintaining the sort of public profile that helps us achieve success in those areas than a thriving football club. There may be no “second chance” with this if a Pompey Supporters’ Trust bid fails, and I hope you will recognize the importance to the city and its people of ensuring that the PST bid does in fact succeed.
I hope you will feel able to commit yourself to voting in favour of the PST loan, and supporting the bid in the wider context.