Can we ask for much more?
Pompey fans have been asking for 'transparency', and as far as I can see - perhaps I am naïve - we have got this in recent times, have we not?
This week David Lampitt met with The Supporters Trust and answered questions put to him BY Pompey fans.
The club, as issued on The Pompey Site this afternoon, have published some of the key questions, with the answers given.
See below for full details...
PLAY UP POMPEY!
Blues chief executive David Lampitt has continued to have regular meetings with supporters at which certain key questions have arisen. His most recent meeting came with the Portsmouth Supporters Trust on Wednesday night, from which the PST are releasing a set of minutes.
Here we air some general issues that have been discussed with fans' groups, and the clubs responses in the form of questions and answers:
Can the club dispel the belief among some supporters that the owners are simply here to take funds out?
The short answer is that the owners can't take money out of the club. The owners have undertaken that they will not take any money out of the club (including parachute payments/player trading etc) without the consent of The Football League.
How have the owners helped to stabilise the club's trading position?
The owners undoubtedly want to try to recoup the monies they loaned to the club. But the only way they can realistically do this is on exit. To ensure the club's trading position is stabilised, they have:
a) underwritten the club's trading on an ongoing basis
b) committed £1m in irredeemable and fully-paid-up share capital
c) not taken payment of any interest on outstanding owner debt
d) agreed not to draw any remuneration as directors
Do the owners take anything at all from the club?
Only very basic travel expenses when they come to the club on business, something we certainly we think is reasonable and within their rights. They try to keep these expenses to a minimum.
So what are the owners' aims for the club while they have it?
Balu Chainrai and Levi Kushnir have consistently said that they don't see themselves as long-term owners but want to stabilise the club and safeguard its future. They have been very open about that. Within that framework our approach to running the club is as follows:
a) We won't jeopardise the club's future by repeating the boom-and-bust mistakes of the past. We will run the club in a responsible manner and not spend beyond our means. Our business plan is to break even.
b) We have to stick to tight budgets which have been submitted to The Football League and are monitored by them on a monthly basis (including player wages etc).
c) The business plan approved by The Football League requires the club to adhere to the parameters agreed, otherwise we may not be allowed to continue to register players without an embargo or other sanctions being applied.
d) It would not be responsible to put the future of the club at risk for the sake of a possible, but uncertain short-term future benefit. Rebuilding has to be carefully managed and for the long term.
e) We have to be realistic and rebuild from solid foundation - last year the club nearly went out of business on a number of occasions and we are only just getting back on our feet. The current owners have played a significant role in keeping the club alive. While everyone is ambitious we have to find a responsible balance, particularly when we are still dealing with major legacy issues.
Looking at the back of a matchday programme it is always evident that we have a significantly smaller squad than anyone else. Is anything being done to address this?
In tandem with the coaching staff, we've gone for quality and not quantity, which means we have a very competitive first eleven but we can be affected by injuries and suspensions. It's a balancing act. We are looking to strengthen and Steve Cotterill has our full support on that. The board have agreed that the upside from the footballing business against The Football League plan will be 100 per cent available to Steve to reinvest in his squad. Neither is Steve under any pressure to sell players.
Some fans feel the owners are showing a lack of respect by not talking to them directly. Do they have any plans to re-address this?
The owners have been up front about their involvement at the club, saying they wanted to remain very much in the background, would not be able to regularly attend games and would leave its day-to day running to chief executive David Lampitt.
Like many club owners, Balu and Levi are not public figures. This does not mean the club is run badly. We understand the appetite among supporters to hear from the people who own the club, but we have to get away from the "circus" of the past, where perhaps owners spoke too much, and come to terms with the club being run properly and in a responsible way.
Unlike some organisations the club actively pursues dialogue with supporters' clubs and fans in general. David Lampitt has met with the Supporters Trust committee on three separate occasions and all supporter organisations/members who have requested gatherings with him. From February he will be holding combined quarterly meetings with these groups and their members. On top of that he also writes a regular blog on the club's official website to keep fans abreast of developments.
Is it disappointing for the club that, given this regular dialogue with fans, some are planning to protest before the game against Leeds on Saturday?
It is good that we have passionate fans who care so much about the club and we must respect their democratic right to voice their views. But we are trying to run the club in a prudent manner as many supporters have demanded, and rightfully so.
Our wider concern is that such a protest causes unintentional damage to the rebuilding of the club by creating a false perception that the club is in 'crisis'. It isn't, it's just being run responsibly.
We hope the above had clarified some of the recent issues raised by supporters.