Back to school for Pompey – but Barker has hope for training future

Pompey boss Richie Barker
Pompey boss Richie Barker

Last week it was Warblington School which hurled in the life belt to save Pompey’s training from the winter deluge.

Another in a lengthening line of venues providing temporary pitch accommodation for the Blues boys who have boots and are forced to travel.

A solution, albeit for the medium to long-term, has been pencilled in for next summer when the current agreement at the City of Portsmouth’s Langstone Campus expires.

The News understands talks are ongoing with Roko over a leasehold to relocate training to the Copnor Road venue which also houses

Encouraging for Barker, who has staged just five training sessions on grass since his arrival as Pompey boss two-and-a-half months ago.

In the meantime, he is forced to travel from university to leisure centres, to colleges to schools, as he seeks to give his team the best preparation for matches.

‘New training facilities are certainly a lot closer than they were six months ago,’ said Barker.

‘How close are they? I don’t know – things are going in the right direction but it needs to.

‘I know it has been said before but for a football club to have been in the Premier League for seven seasons and have nothing to show for it is ridiculous.

‘The people at the top now are probably the first group of owners who have tried to do that and invest in the right way, so fair play to them.

‘I hope we will have it for next season, we certainly can’t continue as it is.

‘The university have been fantastic but we have had a bad winter.

‘I have been here for two-and-half months and trained on grass five times.

‘The football club needs a home, it needs something it can call its training base.

‘We trained on the 3G at Warblington School in Havant last week as someone else was using the 3G surface at Furze Lane. We were walking through school halls!

‘Taff (Anthony Williams) had to sign us in at reception when we rocked up.

‘Nicky Shorey, who was playing for England a couple of years ago, probably had a few thoughts – but the kids were as good as gold and enjoyed watching the lads train.

‘We couldn’t get on at Mountbatten, we couldn’t get anywhere else, the closest was Havant and we thank them for helping us out.

‘And I did nearly call in for a school dinner on the way out!’

Other venues to have housed Pompey training this season, in addition to Warblington School and Furze Lane, are South Downs College, St John’s College and the Mountbatten Centre.

The surface of another, Fratton Park, cannot be used to train on at present.

Barker added: ‘All I can do is give the technical information of what I need at that training ground.

‘If you are looking for all-singing, all-dancing then you go and buy a big plot of land somewhere and develop your own.

‘But, firstly, there isn’t enough land in Portsmouth and, secondly, we haven’t got that amount of finance to do that.

‘Ideally, it would be July 1 when we can get on it but it is nothing I haven’t experienced before with previous clubs.’