|COLIN FARMERY: As the Trust team plays to win, here's the key players...|
Sat 28th Jul 2012 11:39 by Colin Farmery
From August 1 I will be taking on the role of coordinating the communications of the Pompey Supporters' Trust. It is a role I am hugely looking forward to and it comes at a pivotal moment for the future of the club.
So, seeing as my margin for expressing my own opinions is understandably going to become somewhat more constrained in future, I want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to some people who have been working so hard over the past six months, and in some cases longer, to achieve the goal of a community-owned club.
In simple terms there are four options. Firstly, Portpin, the company dominated by Balram Chainrai and Levi Kushnir, could gain control for a third time. Its bid is on the table and has been accepted by the creditors. With player compromise agreements on the way to being resolved, Portpin's offer remains in the driving seat.
Secondly, Pompey could go into liquidation. Trevor Birch, the administrator, made it clear that if a few players don't walk away from their contractual obligations, that will be it. PFC will face an uncertain future of Conference football at best, parks football for at least a season at worst.
Thirdly and, as things stand, least likely, we could have a previously unknown third party - White Knight or otherwise - come to the table and gazump us all.
And finally, there is the Trust.
What the Trust is trying to achieve is a huge challenge by any standards. If it is to succeed in buying PFC, it has to construct a, perhaps unlikely, alliance of individual, collective, private, public and third-sector stakeholders. The Trust has to negotiate its deal, knowing it is spending not leveraged, or borrowed cash, but the hard-earned pounds, shillings and pence of ordinary fans like you and me.
Not only that, Pompey is the biggest football club at which such a project has been attempted. If it pulls the deal off, and the fact we are almost in August and the Trust remains a player tells you that the chance is still there, it will be truly ground-breaking territory for English football.
To have got this far alone is an enormous achievement. And no. Please don't interpret that remark as being of a we-were-happy-to-make-the final type, to console ourselves with second prize. The Trust is still playing to win, for sure.
By their nature, lists are dangerous things. Miss someone off and unnecessary offence may be caused. So from the outset, please be clear this roll-call is neither comprehensive or exhaustive.
In the dim and distant - it seems now anyway - past the concept of the Trust was, for me, inspired by Barry Dewing. Many a time, as Pompey were beating Manchester United and Liverpool, not to mention winnning the FA Cup, he would ring me up and badger me about setting up a Trust. In the late autumn of 2009, as Pompey veered from calamity, to chaos to worse, he got his wish. Barry, you were so right.
In that period two Pompey bloggers, happily still active, in Micah Hall and SJ Maskell were at the vanguard of ensuring that the monochrome stereotype of Pompey as being a classic boom-to-bust, riches-to-rags narrative beloved of some in the media was something far deeper and darker. Many of their insights, at the time scarcely believable, are now accepted as fact. You simply could not make the Pompey story up and their commitment to exposing the truth should never be under-estimated.
Communicating any message is fraught with difficulty. Communicating the Trust's message, with its need to maintain the high moral ground, while reaching the widest constituency possible, without alienating key stakeholders on the way, is a tougher challenge than most. So, my soon-to-be predecessor Scott Mclachlan deserves huge praise for the job he has done.
He took on the role in late 2011 somewhat reluctantly, but he has taken to it like a duck to water. He has a natural ability to share his passion for Pompey and the ideals of the Trust, in a way which the local and national media alike regard as honest and down-to-earth. He is a good source of copy. As a journalist myself, I regard that as high praise.
The pre-share issue by the Trust was the most succcessful, by some distance, pledge-scheme organised by a supporters' group. It has raised a seven-figure sum. Ian Peach from Verisona solicitors was the fan tasked with co-ordinating its administration. He is on stand-by as we speak to start receiving the pledge balances once the Trust bid is ready to roll.
Which brings me to the Trust bid team. These are the guys who have been negotiating with Birch and Co for the past four months on our behalf.
Mick Williams is the archetypal self-made man, having run a successful plumbing business for 30 years. Never one to suffer fools gladly, he is perceptive and knows instinctively when something just isn't quite right and he isn't afraid to say so. Usually after he's left the room for a fag 'to clear his mind'.
Mark Trapani is also a successful businessman in his own right, most notably running the Portsmouth BMW franchise. Principled, while understanding the need to engage rather than reject, his grasp of PFC's finances past and future is second-to-none.
And finally there is Ashley Brown. Ashley assumed the Chair of PST in 2011 and has shown himself to be an astute leader, discreet, calm, clear and above all respected by all who meet him. That the Trust is even in a position to bid for Portsmouth FC is in no small part down to him.
The latter three in particular have sacrificed much for Portsmouth Football Club and its supporters. The hours devoted to the cause are not even the half of it.
So, while the future of Portsmouth FC hangs in the balance I ask you to pay tribute with me to these ordinary Pompey fans. Whether you agree with the principles of a Trust-owned club or not is by-the-by. In extraordinary times, these fans stood up when it mattered most and were counted.
Find out more about pompey-fans.com's chosen charity for 2012-13, Scott Mclachlan's Walk the 92 project, here
The Pompey Supporters' Trust is still seeking pledges from Pompey fans to back their bid. Information can be found here
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