On The Board: Johnny Ertl
Meet the ex-Pompey star who swapped the bootroom for the club’s fan-run boardroom.
What drew you to the On The Board programme?
I was always fascinated by what was going on behind the scenes in a football club. I wanted to see a different perspective – what the decision-makers were doing. When I did the course I was still a player and it helped me a lot. I was asked to join the Supporters’ Trust so I stood for election and they voted me in. It’s really helped me to understand what is required and to put the theory I learned into practice.
But this wasn’t your first step into boardroom education…
I completed a Masters in Business Administration in 2013 and I wrote about Portsmouth as a case study because the club went through a very difficult financial time.
Did the PFA support you through the courses?
The PFA helped me through my MBA and the On The Board corporate governance course. I’m really grateful. I think the PFA are absolutely fantastic. You can’t compare them to any other football institution.
What do you do on the Supporters’ Trust board?
I represent the board in public. We work on everything from increasing membership to finding sustainable investment models and the stadium – are we going to keep Fratton Park or get a new ground? We also work closely with the community.
Does the fact that the club is fan owned change how things work?
It makes a difference because we are quite unique. We are the biggest community club in England. We have to look at what is best for the club to really protect our heritage because we don’t want somebody to come in and for us to become Portsmouth Tigers in three years. We also look at how we can increase investment into the club so we are successful and climb up the leagues to where we belong. We are a big fish in a small pond in League Two. A club with this fan base and size belongs in the Championship.
Is the ultimate aim to return the club to the heights of the Premier League?
I think this is a dream. You have to be realistic. We are a community club. With our current model dreams can come true but we are working on a strategic plan to get to League One. We have the financial stability to compete in League One. When we come to the Championship we are looking for a future investment model. The fans always come first. In every single part of the business – even ticket prices – the fans are involved. With big clubs it just becomes an owner from abroad. I came from abroad but owners may change things like at Cardiff. At the end the fans suffer because they grew up with Cardiff blue and they need to change their living room because it was blue and it becomes red!
What did you learn from the course that has really helped in your current role?
Organisation is the key. Organisation and preparation.
Would you recommend the course?
Yes, very much. I actually recommended it to a friend who played with me at Portsmouth – Paul Robinson. He has completed the course now.
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