American billionaire in early stages of negotiating Portsmouth takeover

(Photo: Action Images)

By Adam Ellis

Portsmouth have become the interest of a buyout by the retired chairman of film industry giant Walt Disney.

American billionaire Michael Eisner has entered initial negotiations with Pompey chief executive Mark Catlin, according to The News, having watched recent league games at Fratton Park.

The 75-year-old film and television executive stepped down from his role of chief executive at Walt Disney in 2005 after 21 years at the mega Hollywood production company, and has since invested in new media opportunities through his Tornante Group, which he would use to spearhead his takeover.

The supporters Trust which holds a majority ownership of Portsmouth has reacted to the news by publishing a statement, in which they confirm they are looking to arrange a meeting with their members to discuss any possible takeover that could become a reality.

The statement posted on Pompey Supporters Trust’s (PST) website said:

“A club such as OURS, with its incredible fan base, is bound to attract interest from possible buyers, and it is our duty to listen to any serious and credible offer for the football club.

“If there is a serious and credible offer, our shareholders will decide the outcome.

“The 3 PST Directors of Portsmouth Community Football Club will be fully involved in discussions.  We understand how much owning your club means and retaining an ownership stake will be central to any discussions we enter in to.

“We are in the process of finding a date for a shareholders meeting which will give you an opportunity to hear more information on any prospective bid to purchase the club, and a full opportunity to air your views.

“A date for this meeting will be communicated in due course.”

Portsmouth are in their third season of fans’ ownership and currently lie 3rd in the League Two table under manager Paul Cook.

A stable footing provided by the club’s fans after years of executive mismanagement committed by previous owners Alexandre Gaydamak, Sulaiman Al Fahim, and Ali al-Faraj, which saw the club wrack up debts close to £135million and administration meted out to Pompey not once, but twice.

PST’s 48% stake in the Hampshire club gives its members the opportunity to welcome aboard Michael Eisner and Tornante, or remain a Trust-owned club.

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