“We lived the dream” those were the words of former Leeds chairman Peter Ridsdale in 2003 on his resignation from the club having run them into the ground, and with the way matters are down on the south coast, it looks likely that Portsmouth are in danger of going the same way as Leeds after chasing the dream.
No secret has been made of Portsmouth’s recent financial trouble, having once again this week failed to pay their players wages on time, further raising questions about Ali al-Faraj’s ownership of the club. Portsmouth seem to have picked the wrong Saudi’s to run a club, because they are possibly the only ones who have no money.
The club’s chief executive Peter Storrie told Sky Sports News this week “The owners are trying everything they can and have found (this money) in the last couple of days”
This is not the first time Portsmouth has failed to pay its players on time. Portsmouth failed to pay September’s wages, when Sulaiman al-Fahim was the owner. They have since missed the deadline for two more monthly payments, and also this week missed the two deadlines that they had set for the payment of December’s wages.
Nick Cusack, the senior executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association also said this week: “After three months of payments being late, I think the players are entitled to ask the kind of questions everybody in football is asking.”
And those questions were asked by an anonymous senior player at the club who blasted the owners for their “mismanagement” of the Premier League side.
The player speaking in the press said “The perception is that every footballer earns millions of pounds but they’re not all making that kind of money. You’ve also got the reserve-team players and the youth team who haven’t been paid, so it crosses the whole spectrum.”
As far as I am concerned that has really hit the nail of the head, and shows that it’s everyone at the club that is suffering, not just the first team players. The club is also currently under a transfer embargo, and has been served with a winding up order in recent times, but the problems do not stop there. Pompey are currently up against history have been bottom of the Premier League table at Christmas; only West Brom have survived relegation in the Premier League era after being bottom over Christmas.
Since May 2008, when Portsmouth reached the dream by winning the FA Cup 18 players have and over £80 million has been received in transfer fees, but Pompey have also brought in 13 new players, albeit many for small fees, and on loan deals. The club have debts of up £60million much of which is owed to other Premier League clubs from transfers.
They say change is a good thing, but in the case of Portsmouth it’s not; Avram Grant is the third manager to take charge at the club since Harry Redknapp left, and in that time Pompey have also had more owners than a battered second hand car.
In a world of doom and gloom and overspending Portsmouth is just like everywhere else at the moment, with the exception of credible owners. Certainly there is a case of too many cooks spoil the broth. Many people, me included predicted that Portsmouth would go down this season, and even at the half way point of the season this is very likely to happen.
Leeds, Newcastle, and come May Portsmouth will be another club who have lived the dream but failed to stay in touch with reality.
In summing up the situation on the south coast I quote former chairman and owner Milan Mandaric who in 2004 said “It’s not my club, it’s the fans’ club. I’m just here as the maintenance man.”
But, right now Portsmouth are lacking a maintenance man that they need to get them out of this mess.