The Pompey Predicament

by Keith O'Connell

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

Now, before I begin, I must state that it is the preserve of football fans to be a fickle bunch.  We are forever apt to be fully committed to one viewpoint one day, only to spin 180 degrees, completely disagreeing with it the next.  This is the pickle that I currently find myself in.

Those who read it would have heard me in my last blog championing Portsmouth’s cause as they faced up to the mighty Hotspurs of Totteringham in this past Sundays FA Cup semi final.  Before I proceed to completely disown those sentiments, I must qualify them by saying that I would pretty much have sided with whomever they were playing.  That and the romance of The Cup got the better of me somewhat.

What has now begun to irritate me is this newfound sense of entitlement that seems to have pervaded the club.  Every which way they turn, they appear to be looking for loopholes to renege on contractual agreements that they have made with various parties, or laws that ARE IN PLACE FOR THE PROTECTION OF THE GAME.

Whether it is negotiating with the club of one of their loanees and attempting to avoid a contractual appearance related payment, or trying to skate around the law prohibiting a club operating under the constraints of administration from applying for the UEFA licence required to enter into European competition, they seem to think that they are above it all.

What makes them so special?  Is it the fact that they were living so far outside the means of the club that they were threatening their very own existence?  Or that with the help of many an unscrupulous agent they went shopping like an excited 16 year old that has just been sent a credit card in the mail?  Or that their FA Cup win and subsequent European adventure was the result of this ridiculous financial doping, as they essentially cheated their way to glory?  The most likely answer could be that given that the penalty for their financial atrocities was only 9 points (one that made no difference to their plight whatsoever) then they can get away with anything.

Let us not forget that this is also a club that has failed to pay its players on numerous occasions.  One that couldn’t keep up with basic bill payments meaning that it’s website was closed down.  One that in a shocking reflection of a capitalist society was ready to offload it’s lowest paid and most vulnerable employees in favour of it overpaid Director of Football.  The one heartening part of this tale is that due to the goodness of the playing staff, some of this blood letting was averted.

So what is the upshot of all this.  Well the latest news from the administrator is that the club could be out of administration within the next three weeks, which would give them time to satisfy the criteria for UEFA licence application.  As a result, the path will be cleared for them, and the only lessons that will have been learnt from the whole sorry saga is that the penalties for cheating in professional football are at best ridiculously lenient, and at worst actually encouraging for others to repeat this model.  As well as this, a club such as Everton who have tried to succeed the right way and with far less debt, could be denied that place in Europe of which they would be far more deserving.

Portsmouth have created the blueprint, and only time will tell how many others will attempt to build their empire on such shoddy foundations.

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  • W.A.

    Even if Portsmouth play in the Europe League next season, they’ll still be in the Championship – so they will pay for their overspending in one sense at least, on the pitch. The Premier League’s plans to extend parachute payments to four years is another issue to consider. Should Pompey’s share go to their creditors? By giving financial support to ex-top flight teams in the Championship, are the Premier League creating a “Premier League 2” by stealth? We’re likely to see the same clubs alternating between the two top divisions, like West Brom do already.

  • W.A.

    *Europa* League

  • Keith O’Connell

    My point is that they would have been relegated even without the 9 point penalty, so in essence they haven’t really been penalised. The same would be the case if it was a lower top half/midtable side.

    The penalty isn’t harsh enough and I agree with those that believe automatic relegation would be a more fitting sentence.

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