University deliver Pompey training ground blow

Administrator Trevor Birch
Administrator Trevor Birch

Pompey have received a blow after the University of Portsmouth stopped them relocating their new training base to Furze Lane.

The Blues had been in talks with the university over relocating to the Langstone Campus site after serving notice on Wellington Sports Ground.

Administrators PKF last week lodged a month’s intent to leave the Eastleigh venue after 11 years in a cost-cutting exercise.

Pompey are now looking to train once again within the city’s boundaries, with the university’s Langstone Campus the long-time first choice.

Yet after discussions yesterday morning, university chiefs have announced the Blues will not be relocating to their land.

It is understood they are not keen to broker an agreement with the club while they are still in administration.

It means Pompey are back to square one in their search for a new training home.

In a statement, Paul Tilley, the University of Portsmouth’s head of sport and recreation, said: ‘Portsmouth Football Club will not be using University grounds at Langstone for training in the foreseeable future.’

In the meantime, administrator Trevor Birch has defended the decision to quit Eastleigh.

He is adamant it is part of the club’s latest cost-cutting measures rather than a case of Pompey being evicted.

He also claims the decision has not been influenced by prospective buyers – the Pompey Supporters’ Trust.

Birch would not comment on how much would be saved.

However, it is believed the cost of hiring the Wellington Sports Ground and staff is approaching £500,000 a year.

Regardless, the administrator believes it’s the correct decision for Pompey’s continued existence in administration.

‘Back in the summer it was looked at retrenching in terms of the training ground – and we decided to bring it back to Portsmouth,’ said Birch.

‘At that time it was deferred as the sale was going to be almost with Portpin at that stage.

‘Now is the time to activate that saving, with costs high on the agenda. Now is as good a time as any to start looking at these areas.

‘We are looking to economise and reduce costs. Let’s not forget we are still in administration so it is an ongoing review of everything.

‘We have given a month’s notice and will be out by the end of January. We have not been told to leave or anything like that.

‘It is entirely my decision and also has not involved the Trust. We need to run the club as economically as we can.’

Pompey’s annual rent for the use of Wellington Sports Ground is around £223,000, as detailed in a PKF creditors’ report in April 2012.

In addition, there are a number of staff employed there by the club, including a chef, assistant chef and groundsman.

Now the hunt is on for an alternative, with Roko Health Club and HMS Collingwood other candidates which may be considered.