I have been a supporter of Portsmouth Football Club since I was old enough to differentiate between a football and a Farley’s Rusk. Hardly surprising as I was born there and my parents were regulars at Fratton Park before the war.
My Mum watched them beat Wolves in the 1939 FA Cup Final and I watched them lift the Cup after they beat Cardiff in the same tie on my birthday in 2008. My best ever birthday present!
But what has happened to this great club since that day?
It seems that it has been systematically raped by successive owners who either have no substance, criminal records or money to launder. The financial management of the club has been abysmal – since the days when Harry Redknapp took on players on high wages to win that cup (and I hardly blame Harry as he was given the green light to spend by those responsible for the club’s finances) one clown after another has taken control of management off the field.
In consequence it is now in administration for the second time since that FA Cup win, and may shortly cease to exist. Pompey have dropped two leagues and been deducted 30 points in total – 10 have already been deducted for the 2012/3 season so they will start at minus 10. They have to sell ALL their players and replace them with juniors on low wages, but at present the Football League will not even allow them to sign those. What hope recovery with the new season starting in under 3 weeks?
I will not chronicle the whole disaster as there is an excellent and comprehensive article from the Telegraph here that will give you the facts. I will, however, raise some issues.
Is Anyone in Charge of Football?
FIFA, UEFA, the Premier League, the Football League – do they all consist entirely of imbeciles?
It’s blindingly obvious to the whole world that there is too much money in football. Football in England is dominated by the 3 or 4 richest teams and one of them, Liverpool, was in dire financial trouble recently. In Scotland there are only 2 dominant teams and one of those has gone bust! And in the lower English leagues they are dropping like flies – Portsmouth are just one of many in England.
Transfer fees are as ludicrous as the wages paid to players and managers, although maybe not much more ludicrous than their “Fit and Proper Persons Test”.
No wonder the money launderers are circling like sharks round Maxwell.
Are they so stupid and incompetent that they can’t put a cap on wages and transfer fees? YES!
What do these buffoons do when a club gets into financial difficulty? They deduct points from them thereby ensuring relegation. And relegation reduces the club’s income guaranteeing that finances will get worse and the creditors will get even less.
Aren’t these organisations supposed to control the game and support clubs, or do they exist to make the rich clubs richer whilst the others go to the wall? Why would they do that I wonder?
Of course, the words envelope and brown are closely associated with the game. Surely not!
Football Creditors Rule
And just to reinforce my last comment, how on earth have the Premier League and Football League managed to bend the rules so that “football creditors” (players, agents, other clubs) take precedence on liquidation over the bakery up the road that supplies the pies, the printer that prints programmes and even Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs? You might hate the taxman but it’s our money – you’d rather it went to millionaire footballers at our expense?.
Unless there is a change in legislation a small group of clubs, players and so-called “governing bodies” will continue to rip us off, retaining vast amounts of our money in their exclusive circle. That’s why those who make up the “governing bodies” sit in smoke filled rooms behind closed doors passing the gin bottle around with two fingers in the air.
So what remains for Poor Old Pompey? In a few days time we will know whether the club will be liquidated in which case a new club will undoubtedly be formed to play outside the Football League with the semi-professional teams, probably on a shared ground.
Or maybe it will stumble along under new ownership starting the season minus 10 points with whatever players they can scrape together. A season struggling to avoid further relegation.
The only positive aspects are a talented and loyal (so far) team manager in Michael Appleton and a dedicated group of fans.
Play Up Pompey!
UPDATE: September 2013
The above was written early last year and, thankfully, Portsmouth Football Club is now in much better shape.
Another league down (League 2, old League 4) but now owned by the fans! In fact the largest fan-owned club in the country. Some very clever and committed fans down there in Portsmouth pulled it out of the bag whilst risking personal money. I’m the proud owner of one £1,000 share too – along with more than a thousand other fans!
Appleton’s long gone and been through at least one other job; Whittingham is now in charge and doing well so far. We still can’t buy players but we can take on free transfers etc and a decent team is building, and playing remarkably well seeing they hardly know each other.
Crowds are nearly as high as when the club was in the Premiership (and well above the crowds at other clubs in the league) and there is a great community spirit behind the club and team.
Unfortunately, the “governing bodies” of the game have not changed one bit. The game continues to revolve around big money and foreign players, suppressing investment in home grown talent and ensuring that our National team will continue to be lacklustre.
Never mind. In spite of their many failings we will try to climb back up the ladder again. But I really don’t want us to get back to the Premier League unless it is radically altered.
Play Up Pompey!