Pompey Virtual Alliance - the first meeting
Well your editorial team had a very busy day last Saturday both before and after the Bolton game. Before allowing Paul and Chix to take their starring roles on BBC2`s MOTD2 Paul and I had attended the first meeting of the newly formed Pompey Virtual Alliance (PVA) with Pompey Chief Executive Peter Storrie and other members of the club`s staff.
The meeting was held in the Sport`s bar under the Fratton End and lasted just over an hour. During that time Peter spoke at length on items which we had asked him to and he answered questions as and when they arose. We have just received the minutes of the meeting and they appear below.
The PVA was formed by a dozen or so different Pompey message boards and web sites to effect better communication between the fans and the club and will meet with the Chief Executive every couple of months. Almost all were represented at the meeting, one member having flown in from Oslo. The meeting was very cordial and club even bought those who could stay a pint!! Not us though we had to rush off!
The PVA now has to decide what direction it goes from here. Is this a one off project or is there a meaningful role for the group in the future? Almost all the sites invited joined and it would seem sensible to keep in touch with each other. The problem is of course for the overseas sites and those whose editors live away from the City. Vital Pompey can assure its members that we will be represented at all future meetings and that we will run a forum thread where you can give us your questions in advance. Most of the topics you wanted raised were covered by Peter Storrie and others but you will see that I did raise a couple of matters.
Please read the minutes, they are interesting. Paul and I will then set up a thread in the forum to give our views and try to answer any questions we can that members might have arising from them.
Meeting between representatives of Portsmouth FC and Pompey Virtual Alliance (PVA)
Held at the Sports Bar, Fratton Park at 11am on 12/09/09
Chair - Colin Farmery (PVA)
Minutes - Bill Gillon (PVA, pompeyonline.com)
Attendees: Portsmouth FC - Peter Storrie (Chief Executive Officer), Lucius Peart (Head of Operations)
PVA: Scott Mclachlan (pompey.org), Brendon Bone (truebluearmy.com), Mike Hall (pompey-fans.com), Vern Rickman and Jimmy Barton (pompeytillidie.com), Peter Corrigan (pompeygossip.co.uk), Jim Bonner (frattonfaithful.co.uk), Dominic Raywood (thepompeychimes.net), Albie Somerset (Pompey Cardigans), Glen Jones (pompeyrama.com), Dave Allen (playuppompey.net), Ed Binks (Vennar Av Pompey), Paul Morling and Dave Taylor (Vital Pompey)
Also in attendance: Johnny Moore (Supporter Relations Manager), Chris Hayler (Brand & Marketing Manager), Mark Mudie (Observer)
Items for discussion;
1 Ownership of PFC
2 Debt position of PFC
3 Future investment for PFC
4 Role of fan websites
5 Next steps
Colin Farmery began by outlining the purpose of the meeting and the PVA, that being setting up a dialogue between the club and the websites, to communicate and listen to each other. The PVA currently covers the interests of thirteen Portsmouth FC fan websites, who are concerned at the current situation of the club. It was stated the it had to be understood that there were a variety of items which the club would be unable to answer because of confidentiality.
Each attendee of the meeting then introduced themselves and, where appropriate, which website they represented.
Colin then brought up the first item for discussion, the ownership of PFC. Note that the resulting discussion also eventually incorporated items 2 and 3, so these are dealt with in one section in the minutes.
Peter Storrie; - Has been at the club for around seven years and, in that time, no owner has put equity into the business. Every owner has only increased club debt.
- Average turnover is £60 million, this year will be the first in which the club is close to breakeven (40 million on wages, £20 million on other costs).. This leaves no money for player transfers when previously club has lost heavily each season.
- Has personally wanted to save the club over the last year, but acknowledged the tremendous help received from other Pompey staff.
- Has promised other clubs he will not leave Portsmouth so they know he is in position to help player deals and payment of funds owed to Clubs.
- Stated that banks could have called in money at any time, and still could. Indeed, Standard Bank called in the loans, hence players had to be sold.
- Banks compounded problem as club had to pay out loan fees immediately instead of staging permanent transfer fees
- Portsmouth are still paying transfer fees for players who have left the club but these will be cleared in January
- All Sky money received in August went straight to Standard Bank
- Club had to refinance so had to bring in owner who could put in equity
- Other clubs and agents have helped the club by putting back payments due
- Club can only break even additional finance is brought in with larger stadium, so owner will have to provide the equity
Question from Mike Hall - Has Sulaiman Al Fahim completed his takeover and, if so, where is his money?
Peter Storrie; - In February, Peter was approached as Al Fahim was interested in buying the club. Discussion took place then nothing else was heard
- In May, Peter received a call and subsequently met Al Fahim at the Champions League Final in Rome. Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed.
- Situation dragged on over next few months, Al Fahim was fully aware of effect on club
- Pini Zahavi approached Peter to raise awareness of the Al Farraj brothers interest in the club. Meeting was held and interest confirmed, things then moved quickly
- One member of Al Farraj consortium was suing Arcadi Gaydamak. Even after the Al Farraj brothers withdrew him, Al Fahim's offer was completed after he came up with the required money. This was probably driven by Arcadi Gaydamak due to the suing position. Al Fahim owns the club
- Al Fahim has not refinanced the club as things stand, and it is unsure when he when funds will be available. Al Fahim has assets but all tied up in business, no liquid assets
- Al Fahim has club at heart but has, so far, only talked. Finance Director not getting answers on how to fund the club, and Al Fahim doesn't yet understand how the club runs and how it relates to things like the Inland Revenue but he is working hard to raise funds
Additional from Mike Hall - Are the Al Farraj brothers still interested?
Peter Storrie; Yes, proposals are being discussed, but nothing could happen unless Al Fahim agrees as he is the sole owner of the club
In response to a follow up on why Al Fahim is being resistant, have to understand the individual, Al Fahim likes publicity
Al Fahim will bring in his own people (staff/advisers) in time
Question from Scott McLachlan - Will he start releasing statements through the club?
Peter Storrie; Al Fahim has to stop releasing statements in other media outlets, it is concerning, especially as it has an effect on dealings with other clubs. When Al Fahim mentions he would like to sign various players, other clubs state that debts to them have to be paid before we sign those players mentioned
Al Fahim is in the States trying to try to get club refinanced
Al Farraj brothers are ready and waiting. Whilst 50/50 partnership would be legally improbable, share agreement could be discussed
Question from Colin Farmery - Are there any outstanding issues with Sacha Gaydamak?
Peter Storrie; Gaydamak still sits on the board of the holding company (Miland 2004). Pointed out that Gaydamak has written off £21m debts which the club had. There is no impediment in the deal Al Fahim has done with Gaydamak, to prevent him selling the club on.
Question from Mike Hall - Is there any news on Al Fahim's claimed £100 million bonus, and will this go into the club?
Peter Storrie; Doesn't know about this, has just been told that Al Fahim is expecting a bonus
Question from PVA - Can the club shed any light on the supposed 48-page dossier?
Peter Storrie; Doesn't think this exists, and believes this was a publicity stunt
Question from Vern Rickman - Is Al Fahim listening to people regarding their views on his statements and his publicity stunts?
Peter Storrie; Al Fahim is doing his own thing, he doesn't appreciate how it comes over to fans, and doesn't really appreciate how things work but wants to attend the next fans forum.
Question from Scott McLachlan - What can the club do to get confidence back in the club after a summer of broken promises, there is no enthusiasm for some people to come to Fratton Park?
Lucius Peart; The clubs image has taken a huge hit from unkind and inaccurate reporting and everyone at the club has suffered. The club understand how hard it is for the fans as people at the club have found it hard work
Haven't got the finance to start the training ground as it stands, or to start work on turning the ground. We have a fantastic new design for the ground and this can be moved quickly with finance. Would like a 4,000 to 5,000 family enclosure. Also said that what doesn't help is other clubs returning late tickets as Portsmouth have to sell these tickets at the same price the returning club was charging.
Lucius Peart; As a thank you to Season Ticket Holders(STH) he said the club are announcing two increases in discount to STH.
From now on STH will receive 20% off the launch prices of any replica kit purchase. This means STHs can get a home adult shirt for as little as £28.00. This offer is open until 30th November 2009 and should prove useful with the home kit just being launched & the new 3rd kit being released on Oct 7th.
Additionally, STH normal discount of 5% has been increased to 10% from today (sat) and will run until May 31st 2010. This means any full priced item can now be bought for 10% off in the PFC shops.
Question from Peter Corrigan - It's great to have players who want to be here instead of the 'overpaid, sulky' players we did have, but will Peter Storrie be staying?
Peter Storrie; Yes, he has just bought a new house and turned down a huge offer from a big club. Happenings do get him down but has been reassured by messages from fans. Would like to see how club can get fans back to games who just come to the one or two games a season
Comment from Jim Bonner - Has seen and talked to other fans who would love to be in our position, in the top leagues having just won the FA Cup.
Peter Storrie; Partly the club's fault for allowing expectations to get too high.
Question from Dave Taylor (eastneydave) - Could Portsmouth take advantage of the 20,000 students due in the city this year and look at discounts for them to help fill the stadium and what do the club think of the Mirror article of the 12th which basically stated the fans were in revolt over unanswered questions?
Lucius Peart; Yes, working with Portsmouth University and also sponsoring their athletic teams. The club has very good relations with the fans.
Peter Storrie; Shocked by the number of supporting emails he has received over recent times
Comment from Vern Rickman - Feels that Peter has had a good summer, and it has shown how much he cares about the club, with what he has done and said.
The chairman then moved the discussion onto Point 4, role of fan websites. What can the websites do for the club and how can we move forward?
Peter Storrie; Club has lowered prices on Milton End tickets and season ticket holders are receiving discoounts on shirts until the end of November
Try and quell expectations of Al Fahim, he is the way he is.
Promote ticket sales, let's get people back to Fratton Park
Comment from Scott McLachlan - If we are going down, all we want is to go down fighting and we need to attack teams more
Paul Hart has never felt he had the players to play an attacking formation, especially in midfield. Now has his own players
Atmosphere on training ground is vastly improved, and players have requested double sessions
Point 5, Next Steps
Peter Storrie confirmed he is happy to have these meetings every two months
Regular meetings will also be held with Johnny Moore and Chris Hayler on how the club and websites can work together.
Meeting closed: 12.02
A long read I know but a accurate summary and thanks to Bill Gillon for writing them. A lot to take in too.
I have made a few amendments to the original post following comments from Peter Storrie - eastneydave