Chairman's Blog November 2017
by Simon Colebrook

Added on 16 November 2017

A slightly delayed blog this month, as the Community Share Withdrawal Scheme has been occupying most of my time – more on that later…

Over the last month and a bit, as well as the Shares, we’ve had the first Heritage and Advisory Board meeting and started work on the future strategy of the PST.

Starting with the Heritage and Advisory Board, this meeting served as a start to the new, changed relationships between the Club, the PST, the Presidents and also Tornante and the Eisner family. As well as setting out the future format and scope of the meetings, we received an update from Tornante on the progression of the plan for the future of the stadium and discussed how the new crest would be decided upon. One thing that needs to be made clear about the H&A Board is the importance of confidentiality.

All of the members of the H&A Board need to have the confidence that what is said in the room stays in the room so that open, free debate can be had, and so that we continue to receive the same level of information that we did in the past.

That said, I do understand the importance of ensuring that, whenever possible, our members and the wider fanbase are aware of the topics under discussion and therefore we will aim to ensure that a brief summary of those topics is disclosed as was done after the last meeting.

Moving on to the strategy for the PST, we have had initial internal discussions on what the core purpose of the PST should be moving forward, and what areas of activity we will focus on. The PST, with its seats on the H&A Board, has to have a primary role in representing the views of fans to the club, and in influencing decision making in that regard whenever possible. To achieve that representation, we need to maintain strong relationships with all of the other fan bodies – the Tony Goodall Fans Conference, the regional and local supporter clubs, the Disabled Supporters’ Association and more. We are your voice on the H&A Board.

We are keen to hear from members and other fans on what they feel the PST should be doing in the future. Please get in touch with any thoughts on this. We will, in due course, put out some consultation surveys to gather the thoughts of our members on what they want the PST to be.

Finally, the Community Share Withdrawal Scheme. This has not been without challenges. It’s been a source of great frustration to me that we were not able to commence payments in the week we were hoping to. It was particularly frustrating that the bank we have used for the last four years refused to help us with this process meaning that we had to open a new account. New business bank accounts are difficult enough to open, but when I explained what we were going to be doing this caused all sorts of mayhem as we didn’t fit into the neat categories that banks like to put their customers into.

That was just the start of the problems though. As a new customer, the only internet banking option was the basic system that involves entering in each transaction one at a time. No big deal, some might think, but with 1,600 payments to make this would have taken us 40-50 hours to enter – a considerable time when having to do this in the evenings after the day job. Couple that with the fraud detection that internet banking uses, which saw lots of payments for the same amount as potentially suspicious, thus requiring further checks and the process became extremely time consuming. Fortunately, after much discussion with the bank, we hit upon a solution to enable payments to be made en masse. Our new bank has been extrememly supportive and helpful in getting this process completed and have put a lot of work into it free of charge. 

The payment run is all but complete now, but a few payments will tip into next week. There are some that failed to complete due to incorrect account details, as well as a few international payments and some Nationwide pass book accounts that could not be processed automatically.

Over the last few weeks, myself and Steve Hatton (our membership secretary, who has put huge amounts of work into the scheme) have been overwhelmed by the large number of messages of support that we have received. They have been a massive encouragement to us that our shareholders understand the scale of the task at hand and appreciate the level of work that's been involved. So, we'd like to acknowledge our gratitude for those messages.

That wraps it up for now. Please feel free to contact me direct on the email below, or the PST on the general address of [email protected].

In the meantime, Play Up Pompey!!

Simon Colebrook

[email protected]

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