Bognor chief Jack Pearce insists the club made the right decision in calling off their planned friendly against Pompey after the Blues told them they were not sending their first-team squad to Nyewood Lane.
As reported, it will be the first time in five years Nyewood Lane has not hosted the game, which is a big money-spinner for them and a vital part of their annual income. General manager Pearce made the decision after Pompey officials confirmed his worst fears that having changed the game to a ‘Pompey XI’ game they would not send the first team.
Some fans felt they should have gone ahead with a game against a youthful Blues XI but Pearce said that would have been unfair on fans of both sides who had enjoyed seeing the full Fratton Park squad at Nyewood Lane every year since 2013. The irony is this year’s planned fixture - originally pencilled in for July 19 then changed to July 18 - was, said Pearce, initiated by previous Blues boss Paul Cook calling Bognor and asking them to plan it in. The game would have attracted a crowd of around 2,000 and would have given the Rocks a profit of several thousand pounds to set them up for the season ahead. Pompey insisted they wanted to retain good relationships with all their nearby non-league clubs but believed it should be expected that a new manager was always likely to want to run a pre-season campaign in the way he felt is best for his players. Pompey bosses are said to be surprised Bognor do not want to play a ‘Pompey XI’ which would still have contained familiar names and which both clubs could have been up front about publicising, perhaps charging a lower admission fee than would have been applied had the Blues first team been involved.
Pearce said that was not an option, but insisted they’d talk to Pompey about future seasons’ arrangements.
Bognor and Pompey have had a good relationship for decades, going back to the Blues’ SOS appeal in the 1970s when the Rocks pitched in to help. Bognor fans look forward to the annual game - as do many Pompey fans who make the trip - and will be disappointed it is not going to happen. Pearce said it was another squeeze on the Rocks’ budget – coming on top of the fact that in the National League they have to pay players for two extra weeks, and have two fewer home games to earn income. The biggest game on Bognor’s pre-season list is now a home clash with Crawley Town, which is on July 26 (7.45pm).
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