Portsmouth Move to a Semi-Pro Model For 2023/24

Photo: Ed Payne

Last night, Portsmouth Football Club shared the exciting news that Pompey Women are to be integrated alongside the men’s team under the ownership of The Tornante Company. This is part of a move that will see new investment into the women’s team, allowing semi-professional contracts to be offered to players for the first time.

I’m slightly confused and disappointed that the women’s team were not originally taken under the wing of Michael Eisner’s Tornante Company on day one of the club’s takeover but I suppose they say better late than never.

On the pitch, Portsmouth are coming off the back of their most successful season in the last few years. After the departure of fan favourites, Cherelle Khassal, Shannon Albuery, Jaime Gotch and Evie Gane, many within the fan base were questioning what the future looked like for Pompey, myself included.

The fans needn’t have worried. Jay Sadler and his team made a conscious switch from targeting FA Women’s Championship (FAWC) talent and brought in players young players fresh from Women’s Super League Academies. Such as Ella Wild, Mae Goulden, Tierney Scott, Georgia Jenkins and Taylor Macdonald. Along with the signing of the club’s Player of the Season, Sophie Quirk and the return of Evie Gane, Pompey narrowly missed out on the league title.

Photo: Ed Payne

Jane Eisner, the wife of club owner, Michael, will become the side’s new chair, while outgoing chair Eric Coleborn is to remain as a director. Also serving on the board are Georgia Eisner, Stacey Eisner, Terena Eisner, Eric Eisner, Andy Redman, Clare Martin MBE and Val Cohen. Former directors Helen Chivers and Bill Griffiths have both been appointed as honorary vice presidents.

As Portsmouth Football Club celebrate its 125th anniversary, they hope that becoming semi-professional will help Pompey Women to retain their brightest footballing talents, attract new players and progress to the next level.

It’s an honor to take the baton as we look to build on the great work achieved by Eric Coleborn, Jay and his players, and the broader team over the past few years. Michael and I, and our entire family, are thrilled to be involved with Pompey Women.

Jane Eisner

Head coach Jay Sadler told the club’s website: “The development of the female game has accelerated in such a short timeframe. In order to maintain growth and competitiveness, clubs must continue to strengthen and evolve. This level of commitment from Tornante is monumental in maintaining our reputation as a leading club in the women’s game.

Photo: Ed Payne

“Our vision is to compete at the highest level possible and this support will provide a solid foundation to achieve that.”

While Sadler’s priority will be to bring in new additions to strengthen his side, those behind the scenes will need to prioritise the heavily delayed John Jenkins Stadium – the new home of Pompey Women and Moneyfields FC.

Work on the project began in April 2022 but the ground is far from finished, with the club asking for volunteers from the local community to help complete the work. This facility will be impressive but if the club have aspirations of moving into the Championship I actually believe that it would be a step down from their current home of Westleigh Park, the home of National League Men’s team Havant & Waterlooville. Their priority should be to remain there while playing more games at Fratton Park.

I am a long-time advocate of the National League and I have also long feared the third and fourth levels of the women’s football pyramid getting left behind the WSL and FAWC so moves like this are much needed and exciting.

With the winner of the FAWNL Southern Premier Division being awarded promotion to the Championship there is much to play for. Although Pompey will have to fight off Ipswich Town and Oxford United for that crown.

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