£50m debt will not stop fans' bid for community club buyout

POMPEY fans who want to launch a community buyout of the club say its huge debt will not put them off.

The Pompey Supporters Trust underlined its resolve as the club’s administrator Trevor Birch revealed Pompey’s debt stands at around £50m.

That includes the club’s previous Company Voluntary Agreement (CVA) – which outlines what it must pay to creditors after the last time it was in administration – and £17m owned by its secured creditor, former owner Balram Chainrai.

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Under the trust’s fans-backed takeover plans, supporters are asked to make a minimum £1,000 commitment to acquire a community share.

Ashley Brown, trust chairman, said Mr Birch’s estimation will not change the initiative. He added the scheme was quick to receive a positive response from fans.

He said: ‘The debt figure doesn’t change us at all. The club is worth what someone is willing to pay for it.’

If the trust is successful with a takeover bid, Mr Brown confirmed there would be ‘one or two’ members on the board, but it would be filled with professional individuals to run the business. He also revealed any bid could be boosted by a number of wealthy Pompey fans.

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Mr Brown added: ‘There will be one or two representatives from the trust and the rest of the board would be appointed based on skills and interest. The idea is to create an active board from people who have an interest in what we are trying to do.

‘It could be a sole bid but we are not a closed shop – we may end up working with other people.

‘We have already brought to the table a network of individuals who want to be involved with what we are doing and hopefully we will be in a position to name them in the next few weeks. They have the potential to put in large sums.’

Mr Brown said the trust would remain fully focused on the scheme if bids from other parties came through.

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Former chief executive Peter Storrie revealed he is acting as an ‘intermediary’ between a sports firm interested in taking over Pompey and the administrator.

Mr Brown said: ‘There is always a chance other people can come into play and put a bigger offer on the table than we can offer. But we can focus on what we are trying to do and what we are trying to do is give the club a clean start.

‘It’s difficult to explain the amount of work that a number of people have been doing in the background.

‘We have gone down a lot of dead ends but I am pleased now we are actually able to talk about something credible, particularly because people can at least see we have been able to work towards something. It’s now up to the community to decide whether to get behind it.’

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The trust’s efforts to get fans behind the share scheme will be stepped up today as members will hand out leaflets at the match against Burnley.

The initiative has received a warm welcome from some fans. Bill Gillon, owner of website Pompey Online, said he would look to acquire a share. He said: ‘It’s the ideal. We have to back it if it’s feasible. We need to get the money together first to make sure there’s enough to go forward.

‘If I can buy one I will be putting forward the initial money and hopefully the £1,000 in the future.’

Fan Mark Mudie added: ‘I think it’s absolutely superb – a great idea. I just hope there’s enough fans out there with enough money to do it.’

Former Pompey star Ray Crawford said: ‘Obviously it’s a great idea if people have got that sort of money. I wish I had enough money to buy a share myself.’

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