Time for Sondico to deliver for Pompey

Pompey fans were this season's home shirt with pride Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey fans were this season's home shirt with pride Picture: Joe Pepler

It is too late for Reggie Guy, he has been claimed by Liverpool.

So much for Mike Fulcher’s first pick in the bid to capture the footballing allegiance of his young grandson.

Desperate to usher the toddler towards the direction of Pompey, in July he embarked on what has developed into a crusade for a junior replica home kit.

It was supposed to be a present for Reggie’s first birthday in August – yet Sondico have not delivered.

The absence has instead allowed the Waterlooville youngster to be recruited elsewhere and, agonisingly, it is the Liver bird which now proudly adorns his chest.

The handiwork of Reggie’s paternal granddad and an avid Reds follower, much to the frustration of his Pompey-supporting parents and, of course, Fulcher.

They are not alone in their disillusionment. Many other Pompey fans are also dissatisfied over the conduct of Sondico and its parent company Sports Direct.

Labelled ‘Sondinlo’ by some supporters, the company’s reliability since signing a five-year deal reportedly worth around £800,000 in the summer of 2013 has been questioned.

Delays dictated the home kit didn’t emerge until August 4, and since there have been numerous complaints over the shirt’s quality in terms of wear and washing.

Other issues include the current home goalkeeper’s jersey – as worn by Paul Jones – still featuring last season’s Blues badge.

In addition, until last month’s FA Cup visit of Aldershot, Fratton Park match-day mascots have sported the 2013-14 strip.

And, of course, for more than half of the 226-day season, Pompey’s club shop has been unable to stock home shirts for ages below 7-8 years.

As a result, on Monday, a motion of no confidence in Mike Ashley’s company is on the agenda to be heard at the Pompey Supporters’ Trust’s AGM.

At least there was a breakthrough on Thursday, with 200 mini-kits for ages 3-6 months up to 5-6 years arriving in the club shop – 117 days after the season’s start.

Yet supply continues to hopelessly fail to meet demand, with shop staff told not to expect any more.

Meanwhile, Fulcher’s family eventually opted to lodge an order for his grandson’s kit online rather than pestering the shop for a date.

After waiting two months and six days ago, on Thursday a Sports Direct email informed them the order was now cancelled as the item is ‘no longer in stock’.

Fulcher said: ‘This has been a battle, we have tried to get my grandson his first Pompey shirt since the summer and still nothing.

‘A babygrow would have done, basically anything with a club badge.

‘Before Thursday’s delivery there was nothing like that, although adult onesies have been available.

‘Reggie’s birthday party was held at my house and he turned up wearing a Liverpool strip because we couldn’t get a Pompey one. I was seething, absolutely seething.

‘I have had a gutful. You always remember your first kit and Sondico are letting the fans of this club down. It is a joke.

‘I am still working on Reggie, though. There is a picture of Paul Merson on his wall, one of Prince Boateng’s penalty against Spurs and a signed picture of Peter Crouch after joining us for a second time!’

There have also been issues with Sondico supplying kit at Carlisle, Oldham, MK Dons, Sheffield Wednesday and Yeovil this summer.

After signing a three-deal with Carlisle in April, they received their kit two days before the start of the League Two campaign.

Replica strips did not actually surface until September, leading chairman Andrew Jenkins to brand the issue as a ‘disaster’.

Meanwhile, Oldham were forced to play pre-season matches in training gear and had to cancel a team photocall as the result of delays.

Another infuriated Blues customer is Bob Beech, who was involved in the design of the home strip which features names of all 1,400 Pompey Pals who fell in the Great War.

Beach has been offering a customised version featuring – among other alterations – a full-colour embroidered Pompey Pals logo on the right sleeve and the legend ‘Pompey Remembers’ over the club crest.

Profits from the collectors’ item are designated for the Pompey Pals charity, yet two-month delays in Sondico’s distribution has prompted his sales to be suspended.

On Tuesday, 25 of the shirts were received from Sondico – of which six were missing Pompey badges.

With three shirts still outstanding, an exasperated Beech has now bought them retail before customisation so orders can be met for Christmas.

He said: ‘They are called Sondico but I prefer Sondinlo.

‘There is nothing professional in my experience with them.

‘The explanation for the delays I have been given is Sondico are experiencing shipping delays.

‘In fairness, the club has done everything they can, but unfortunately they are dealing with dinlos.

‘So it lies with a company in Derbyshire who are unable to grasp any reality of what is going on in Portsmouth.

‘It is important to remember at this time of year, when parents want to buy their little ones kits for Christmas, that mummy and daddy do love you, so does Santa – it’s just the Grinch at Sondico who doesn’t care.’

Since Tuesday, Sports Direct have failed to respond to The News’ constant requests for an explanation.

Meanwhile, Pompey have politely declined to comment on their kit supplier’s conduct.

Still, the club’s Sondico deal does contain a clause that it can be reassessed after three years – in the summer of 2016.

The agonising wait continues.