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.

Or not.

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?

11 thoughts on “Portsmouth Supporters: May You Live in Interesting Times”

  1. You failed to mention the credit crunch as one of the resons for our demise. Sacha’s money drying up coinciced with the credit crunch, the new ground was financed by all the housing & retail that was associated with the development. The credit crunch knocked that on the head. The takeover has been very badly handled, I think Sacha & Al Fahim are in a stand off over the price & need to meet in the middle & soon. The higher the price, the less money Fahim will have to develop Fratton Park & the team. Wait to long & we go into administration or worse.
    Keep the faith, it could be worse, we could be in League 1 with a 10 point deficit.

  2. Lovely article !! Peter Storrie seems untouchable ! Most ceos would have been given the sack ages ago ! even the players are fighting each other now . We have no direction and letting are International players leave is stupid and naive . What hope do PFC have now of staying up ! Shouldnt the league be looking into Gaydamak the whole financial picture at Portsmouth Football Club.

  3. On a serious point, the premier league has to be concerned about the new breed of foreign owners. Little, or no, examination was made of Liverpool’s owners for example, and they have angered fans massively. There is a balance that has to be reach – being laissez faire and allowing the free market to work its magic (allowing any tom, dick or arab billionaire to buy a team) on one hand, and ensuring responsible ownership on the other.

    Portsmouth fans must be tearing their collective hair out. There are no easy solutions to the bigger picture of ownership, but surely cases like this (not to mention Mike ‘Sportsworld’ Ashley, and Liverpool’s cowboy owners) means that there needs to be a fundamental rethink in how football teams are allowed to be bought and sold. We all know the ‘fit and proper’ test is a mockery – that’s beyond the point of debate. I recommend a sort of ‘trial ownership’ idea, whereby new owners (foreign or not) are on a sort of 6 or 12 month probationary period of ownership.

  4. The new Fit-and-Proper-Persons Test is a result of ManCity’s takeover last summer. It’s designed to weed out people who don’t really belong owning a Premier League club. al-Fahim has passed that test, but has yet to actually sign the deal, despite being named chairman.

    The credit crunch did play a part in Gaydamak’s decision to sell and the lack of a new stadium development, but I believe he was losing interest in continuing to financially support a money-losing club before all of that happened.

    Anything other than relegation this season will feel like we’ve won the league. We have to be better than three clubs. There are plenty of bad clubs in the league. It can be done, but the odds are stacked against us.

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