I felt guilty when I heard that Antonov had been arrested. You see, the evidence has always been there that he is a crook – but we were desperate for our club to start moving forward again. I turned a blind-eye to the fact that the UK financial regulatory system (a system itself with a lot to answer for) had deemed him unfit to run a UK bank and he had once been the target of a Chechnian Mafia assassination attempt.
However if I picked up the News tomorrow to read that a previously unheard of businessman from somewhere I know little about with no knowledge or connection with our football club, with our city, turned up offering to pour money into the club, to take us back to the Premiership, and yes a couple of his businesses had previously failed and yes he was no longer welcome in Panama and his Dad was wanted by the Saudis for financial irregularities, would I do anything about it?
Well the short answer is no because I want our club to survive but perhaps more pertinently it is legally and officially nothing to do with me. That feels wrong. If you have read this far you are most certainly emotionally attached to Pompey or perhaps another English club. But in no other sphere of personal or financial life do we have such little control over something dear to us – this lack of control is disconcerting to say the least.
The Portsmouth Trust have tried to facilitate some element of influence if not control to bridge this gap. I am not a member. I am aware of the trust – I've never looked at in detail, I worry they maybe a toothless organisation, run by people I dont know – what are their motivations? Is this an ego trip for a select few or an attempt to represent all of us? Well I decided to try to find out...
The Trust wants to bring about democratic fan representation on the Pompey board to ensure the club is aware of and further its links with the community of Portsmouth. Its mission statement is wide ranging including 'further the development of the game of football both nationally and internationally' which seems ambitious and way outside what I imagined the remit of the Trust to be.
The Trust also promotes its association with Supporters Direct – whose main aim is to help supporters buy shares in their clubs. Fan ownership is not explicitly mentioned in the Trusts aims – but I presume its an assumed aim?
Even more complicated are the Trusts rules – it is difficult to identify exactly what my fiver would be used for, but it is reassuring to see that any financial surplus or profits will go towards building up reserves or expenditure on achieving the Trusts aims and not to any of the members of the Trust. The rules seems to be fairly standard setting out procedure for positions, voting, the removal of membership and so on.
The board members are all given space to explain their legitimacy as Pompey fans and why they have come to represent the fans. I applaud all of them for giving up their spare time to do this. Also there is significant documentation available to read about the meetings the trust have had over the last year.
The trust seems to have been professionally and impressively established. Their aims seem to perhaps be a little wide-ranging for me – standing at football, obtrusive filming at away games etc. Without focusing on officially democratically elected representation on the board of PFC, the Trust is another supporters club – important, worthwhile but these already exist and there is a degree of representation through Johnny Moore. I think the trust should make their aim (if it is indeed its aim) even more explicit. I am a Luddite, I want to know what my five pound gets me. I hope that one day my membership would allow me to vote for someone to sit on the board. I know it is not within possibilities for that to be promised, but if it was a clear, over-riding aim that would be a good start.
With the latest turmoil their have been discussions regarding fan ownership. This is utopian. The set-up at Barca is the dream. But Portsmouth do not have enough fans with sufficient wealth to buy the club outright and keep it competitive. If, god-forbid, the club collapses and we have to start again, that would be a different proposition.
This sorry process has yet again opened in my mind the debate about how football should be run, but that is for a different blog that I intend to write.
As for the Trust, after I blog this, I am going to pay my five pounds and join. I applaud them for attempting to do something. Do I think their aims could be clearer? Yes. Can we Trust the trust? I think so and I hope so, they seem to be Pompey fans trying to take our destiny back into our own hands and at the moment that seems like absolutely the right thing to do.