A winding-up order? It could be the start of something great

Pompey fans are understandably fearful that their club enter liquidation next week but, as AFC Wimbledon fan Niall Couper explains, it won't be the end of the world

For those Pompey fans staring, grim-faced, into their cereal this morning praying for a minor miracle before next Wednesday, it may seem a strange thing to say. But I believe a winding-up order could be the best thing that has ever happened to them.

Let's face it, Portsmouth are in a mess – and the only people who really seem to care about the club are the fans. So I say forget it all and start again.

It could be the greatest journey. I know – I've been there.

I'm an AFC Wimbledon fan. I will always remember being in the room when a bunch of naive South Londoners filled in a London FA form to formally register the club. Eight years on and that same club is now plying its trade in the Conference having been promoted four times.

Yes, I'd be lying if I said I don't miss turning over the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United and, most of all, Chelsea – but since AFC Wimbledon emerged from an FA Commission's decision to allow my club to be stolen away eight years ago I have gained so much more.

I now support a club bedded in the local community. It is run by the fans and for the fans. Gone are the days of dodgy owners – and Pompey have had more than their fair share of those. Gone are the days of players with huge egos. Each new AFC Wimbledon player undergoes an initiation into the club that stresses its ethos, its commitment to fan ownership and its fervent opposition to football franchising. I seriously doubt Sol Campbell ever underwent such a similar experience at Fratton Park.

AFC Wimbledon also owns its own ground – bought by the fans – and now gets attendances around the 4,000 mark. Indeed, when we played Luton earlier this season our attendance was higher than the equivalent fixture years ago in the top flight.

Yes, there are huge logistic problems in setting up your own club, but there is help to be found through the likes of Supporters Direct, the masterminds of the growing Supporters Trust movement across the country.

Pompey fans should get in touch with them now, get organised and go for it. After all, Wimbledon were never the biggest club – and look what we have achieved. Portsmouth are a far bigger club than we ever were – just imagine what AFC Portsmouth could do.

Niall Couper is the author of The Spirit of Wimbledon and a former Dons Trust Board member

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