Catlin allays Pompey budget increase concerns

Mark Catlin. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (131071-3)
Mark Catlin. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (131071-3)

Mark Catlin has defended the ‘relatively small’ playing budget increase which has paved the way for three more Pompey arrivals.

Simon Ferry yesterday joined the Blues on a two-year contract having been a regular performer at Swindon last season.

He joins Ryan Bird, who arrived at Fratton Park a week ago in a deal with non-league Burnham.

In addition, the final touches are being put to Ricardo Rocha’s return – an agreement which could be finalised today.

Guy Whittingham last week revealed to The News he was hoping his £1.2m budget could be adapted to allow all three to be recruited, bringing his squad size up to 20.

That wish has now been granted by Pompey’s seven-man board.

That go-ahead comes on the back of far better season ticket, commercial and sponsorship sales than originally budgeted.

And chief executive Catlin has attempted to allay any fears among the club’s fans that playing arrivals have left the club financially vulnerable.

He said: ‘It has been three months now since the community took over the club and in all businesses budgets move.

‘Thankfully for us, crowds, sponsorship and commercial revenue have far exceeded what were worst-case scenario budgets.

‘In terms of sponsorship, we are back up to Championship levels, which is incredible for a League Two club.

‘We are also pretty much sold out flat in two of our lounges for the season, while season tickets are more than 10,200.

‘In addition, we have had several commercial sponsors stipulating they wanted to help the club on the pitch in terms of the playing budget.

‘I will not name them but that is not something we are going to turn away.

‘So when Guy approached us a few weeks ago and said he would like to strengthen his squad and would it be possible to increase the playing budget I put that to the board.

‘They looked at the figures and gave a positive response back.

‘The result is there has been a relatively small increase in the playing budget.

‘I will stress that of all the extra revenue which has been made off the field, what has been deemed an appropriate part of that has been put towards the playing budget.’

It has proven to be a complicated past week in terms of finalising the revised playing budget for Whittingham.

But Catlin is delighted how it has been formulated – and well within Football League regulations.

He added: ‘The Football League have stipulated playing budgets should not be more than 55 per cent of turnover and some clubs are consistently living on the edge.

‘Ours, in terms of percentage, is now in the low 30s.

‘We have also recently changed our playing budget in other different ways.

‘There have been a lot of things there other clubs don’t have, such as agent fees and player accommodation costs, so that put Guy at a severe disadvantage.

‘We have now looked at that as well.

‘It is still there but is now separate and more transparent.

‘All we have ever had is a mid-table League Two budget but now we have been able to give a little bit more to Guy.’