Sunday 18 February 2018

Pompey legend hails loyal fans for keeping club afloat in stormy spell

PORTSMOUTH FC has remarkable support, averaging home gates of around 17,000 in Division Two, where several clubs can only get a couple of thousand spectators.

The level of support also brings pressure to succeed, despite the financial strictures of a club which does not yet have its own training facility.

Pompey train at the University of Portsmouth grounds, and Alan McLoughlin drives a van packed with all the training equipment to each session at the college.

It's a far cry from their days as a Premiership club, and FA Cup triumph of 2008.

Since then, Portsmouth have gone through a disastrous series of financial problems and losses of top players.

They went into administration twice and suffered three relegations.

The club almost went out of existence until the Pompey Supporters Trust took over in April 2013.

McLoughlin had been coaching in the Portsmouth academy but Guy Whittingham, who took over as manager at the start of this season, asked the ex-Ireland player to be first-team coach.

Currently, ex-Portsmouth player Andy Awford is caretaker manager.

"The board and we as staff have been delighted with the turnouts in what have been difficult times," says McLoughlin.

"It has been a difficult season. We're on to our third manager now – Guy Whittingham left in November. Then Richie Barker came in and now Andy Awford, my good friend who I've known since 1992, has come in as manager and steered us to a couple of victories."

Indeed he has. In the last couple of weeks Pompey enjoyed a fine run of form under the Awford-McLoughlin partnership and moved well away from any threat of relegation.

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