Fratton faithful come to Academy’s aid

Pompey fans Barry Dewing, Steve Compton, Kim Rickman and her husband Vernon Rickman at Tuesday's Fanfunding launch
Pompey fans Barry Dewing, Steve Compton, Kim Rickman and her husband Vernon Rickman at Tuesday's Fanfunding launch

Pompey fans have contributed financially to save the club from liquidation, then they bankrolled a new training ground.

They even dipped into their pockets to pay off charities left short-changed by two previous ownership regimes.

Now the Fratton faithful have the opportunity to play their part in building a permanent home for the Academy.

At present, the youth set-up stages age-group matches at the University of Portsmouth or Bay House School in Gosport.

The first team may be booked into a new training home at Roko this summer but the funds aren’t there to also accommodate the Academy.

The club hope that can change after launching a FanFunding campaign in partnership with organisers Tifosy.

A target of raising £250,000 in 60 days has been set to enable Pompey to take on two council pitches at the back of the Copnor Road site.

If successful, it will allow the Academy to operate from the same training ground as the seniors.

Supporters can contribute anything from £10 to £10,000, with 12 rewards open to those who take part in the scheme which is the first of its kind in the Football League.

More than £14,000 was raised within the opening 24 hours of the Fratton Park launch attended by Tifosy ambassador Gianluca Vialli.

And Awford is banking on the supporters to once again come to the club’s assistance.

He said: ‘This is about getting the extra two pitches incorporated in the existing training ground to allow us to bring the Academy fixtures down there as well.

‘The two new pitches will be used for the under-18s and the under-16s to play matches on a Saturday morning.

‘Meanwhile the under-nines to the under-15s will be able to use the pitches on a Sunday morning.

‘If they were to use the two existing pitches there at the moment the surfaces would be gone by Christmas.

‘At the moment the training ground will only provide us with training.

‘It won’t allow us to host Academy matches and Saturday and Sunday games.

‘So the plan is to bring all that to Roko and this will go a significant way towards achieving that.

‘Luca (Vialli) made a really good point about the psychology of belonging having a big impact.

‘So if we can encompass it all at the training ground it would be a massive benefit to the club.

‘The grass is there for two new pitches but we need to bring the pitches up to speed, it needs to be of a certain standard.

‘It’s not a case of buying the land and marking them, they need work.

‘Raising this money in 60 days is the big challenge and I don’t know how realistic that is – but the guys seem to think they can do it.’

As Pompey are the first Football League club who have taken part in the scheme, Tifosy have waived any commission.

Organisers have pledged all money is ring-fenced to ensure it is solely used on the youth set-up.

And should the total exceed the £250,000 target, that excess will be spent on other crucial Academy facilities.

To donate or read more details of FanFunding, visit the web-site