What a long, strange trip it’s been for Portsmouth supporters. Just a little over a year ago, Portsmouth Football Club lifted the FA Cup, qualified for Europe, and was enjoying its second straight season in the top half of the table. Harry Redknapp was forgiven for his brief trip to Southampton. Winning trophies will do that.
Last summer’s selling of Muntari to Inter Milan was a warning shot across the bow of what was to come. Redknapps’ departure in October for the supposed greener pastures of North London, the departure of several more big names, December’s confirmation of Gaydamak’s intent to sell, two more managers, and a narrow escape from relegation were to come. Frankly, the real reason we stayed up is that there were so many poor teams in the Premier League. We didn’t deserve to stay up, but somebody had to.
As soon as this past season finished, a new owner appeared on the horizon, and one with a slightly familiar name. Manchester City supporters will remember him for boasting to sign all of the world’s top talent. Sulaiman al-Fahim, minus the title of Doctor, was either leading a group to buy the club, or buying it himself, or buying it with other people’s money, or something. Due diligence took an interminable amount of time. That’s not entirely correct, though. When Gaydamak purchased the club, due diligence took even longer, but it was during the season. With little else to discuss this summer on the south coast, the length of the due diligence period felt like it lasted years. Being the first person to go through the league’s new Fit and Proper Persons Test threw further fuel on the fire. How long would it take? Would he pass? Will the league make an example of him and drag this out even further?
On Tuesday, July 21, the club announced the takeover was complete, Sulaiman al-Fahim was the new owner and chairman, and Paul Hart would be retained as manager and given a two year contract. Pompey supporters have mixed feelings about Paul Hart, given his dire, defensive tactics which kept us up last season. He has promised to play more attacking football, but given the depletion of the squad, will be hard pressed to accomplish that. Peter Storrie and Paul Hart both have promised several new acquisitions in the next few days, saying that they have been lined up for a while now awaiting the league’s approval of al-Fahim. The fire sale will stop, although Crouch is very likely to leave. Pompey will not splash the cash like Manchester City is currently doing. However, Sulaiman al-Fahim claims to have a long-term plan to grow the club which includes a new training ground, a new stadium, a larger youth academy, and larger transfer budgets. Here’s hoping he has a good plan.
By the way, does anyone have a kit we could borrow? Canterbury Europe goes into administration after making all of our shirts for the season, but we will have precious few to sell. My wife will be so disappointed that I may not be able to get ANOTHER Pompey shirt. Oh, and we need a kit sponsor too. Any takers?