Portsmouth Supporters: May You Live in Interesting Times
It’s not just a Chinese saying. It’s really a curse, and Pompey supporters are agonizing over it. Last season ended, mercifully, with retaining our Premiership status and a new, supposedly billionaire Arab owner showing interest. He was supposed to be a doctor, a UN ambassador for children, fronting a group of billionaire investors, worth billions himself, all of which turned out to be untrue or changing, or not quite true, or something like that. British tabloids could be absolutely awful, but the club and the man himself could have saved us all a lot of trouble.
Sulaiman al-Fahim has passed due diligence, passed the Fit-and-Proper-Persons test, been named chairman of the club, and is reportedly days away from completing the transaction. Any day now. Soon, the club promises. By the end of the week. No really, this time we mean it.
In the last year, due to lack of investment by Gaydamak, and al-Fahim’s inability to complete the sale, the club has sold Muntari, Diara, Defoe, Johnson, and Crouch. Sean Davis and Sol Campbell have been allowed to leave for free. That’s seven players from our best eleven. The rumors are that Krancjar, Distin, and James could soon follow, with the club saying as much recently. Without the sale of the club being finalized very soon, those players will have to be sold just to pay the wages of the staff and players. If you believe some rumors, many staff members have not been paid lately.
Administration could be on the immediate horizon. That means a 10-point reduction with a seriously degraded team from the one that lifted the FA Cup on May 17, 2008. What does the future hold? If the transaction is completed, and Sulaiman al-Fahim does have the money he claims he does, then administration will be avoided and the squad could be strengthened to the point that it will still have hope of avoiding relegation. Acquire a few players in the January transfer window, the club’s Premiership status could be secure for an eighth season.
If the sale does not go through and al-Fahim leaves the South Coast with his tail between his legs, then certain administration, relegation, and possibly even worse: the club ceasing to exist.
The most important question that needs to be asked is this: Why was the club allowed to be put in such a financially perilous situation? Why has Peter Storrie, the third highest paid executive in the English Football, been allowed to spend without any thought of the long-term consequences of outspending your income? Why has Harry Redknapp, who certainly deserves some of the blame for twice leaving us in a bad financial situation, taken all of the heat? He deserves some of it to be sure, but Peter Storrie draws up the contracts? Sets the budget?
Anybody got a miracle?