An air of desperation has gripped the January transfer window as woebegone selling illegalities, financial blunders and threats of board takeovers have hit an unprecedented level.
The money problems of the new year seem to be epidemic as even Manchester United are rumoured to be in £700m debt thanks to the Glaziers, as crippling league reports circulated through the sporting media this week. Liverpool have also had a board shake-up recently, pre-dating a shock FA Cup exit, as Tom Hicks Jr (son of co-owner Tom Hicks) announced his resignation pending immediately as director of the club on Monday following a shedding of light on “abusive emails” Hicks had sent to a concerned Merseyside fan. West Ham have also struggled to make any headway with regards to a new owner with their Icelandic board playing the waiting game amongst rumours of Lotus F1 team boss Tony Fernandez believing to be interested in the London side, who are looking to keep three players that are on many shopping lists this month, in Matthew Upson, Robert Green and Carlton Cole.
However, these fluctuating tidings are as a fly is to a hippo when Portsmouth are entered into the equation. Their flight towards the abyss came closer yesterday as the Premier League announced that the club’s TV cash (thought of as a £7m share) would be paid out to clubs that are still owed money by the besieged team. Debts over the transfers of players such as Younes Kaboul from Tottenham and Glen Johnson from Chelsea (before being sold to Liverpool) are hanging over Pompey heads as lack of prompt payment has made the Premier League act to cover what is owed. This will be of little comfort to a side that sits bottom of the league and in dire need of strengthening as the second half of the season approaches. Indeed, although Portsmouth have had around £7m of debt cleared, they are still believed to owe around £60m more and with no new investors anxious to take up the reins of such an economic disaster – fans of the club can do little more than keep their fingers crossed. Moreover, even if they had the money to bring new players in, the transfer blockade is still in effect for Pompey’s financial discretions and does not look to change anytime soon, despite claims by the club that they were “working really hard to generate more revenue streams” and that they were hopeful that the embargo would be lifted.
With signing new players out of the question, the real concern is whether Portsmouth can hold on to the ones they already have. Executive director Mark Jacob has insisted that the club does not need to sell, however, this week details of David James being on his way to Stoke have been substantiated by Tony Pulis as he looks to build cover in the goalkeeping area. On the subject he said: “We’re hoping it’ll be tied up by the weekend” as the former Liverpool stopper looks towards the summer, and a certain plane ticket to South Africa. Furthermore, Aruna Dindane – who is on loan from Lens – will possibly be recalled by the French side due to payment terms, possibly with the view to selling him to another club. If this rumour is substantiated, it will be a big loss for Pompey, with Avram Grant so short of options up front.
With everything Portsmouth touching turning to ash, it came as no surprise when it emerged this week that former Pompey boss Harry Redknapp had been charged with two counts of tax evasion. No doubt some of you may remember Redknapp’s arrest in November 2007 when investigators were looking at dubious deals between Portsmouth and Birmingham City, and this charge is similar to that as the Crown Prosecution Service claimed that it was in “the public interest to charge Mr Redknapp.” The offence in question related to two payments that together amounted to just under £183 000 that was made by Milan Mandaric (who has also been charged) to Redknapp via a Monaco bank account. On the subject Tottenham Hotspur announced that “his position remains unaffected and it is a private matter.” However, this cannot help a side that looks to it’s manager for the type of discipline and honesty that they are supposed to model, and indeed Redknapp is supposed to give.
Ian Burton, Harry Redknapp’s lawyer has claimed that £40 000 will be the fine given after the trial, and is confident of a successful outcome. This though, has come at a time when confidence in prompt payment and the reputation of clubs and its management is under scrutiny, and no doubt will add further wood to the blaze.