So it’s official. Portsmouth Football Club will indeed enter administration – imminently. After almost 18 months of laughable owners and countless stories regarding the club’s financial state, at least the fans know where they, and their beloved club, stand.
In fact, administration has come as something of a relief to the city, although it is not the clean slate many fans believe it is. It can be a long, arduous process which brings grave detriments to all involved with the club. For a start, administrators will spend the next few months attempting to strike deals with various creditors whilst attaining funds for the debts owed to football clubs – which have to be paid in full. The likes of Sacha Gaydamak and Banrai Chanrai are likely to only get a percentage of their monies returned while the HMRC are expected to be left short too. However, the biggest losers in all this aren’t them or even the fans – a mention must go to the local (smaller) businesses who are owed monies by the club that are altogether insignificant in the football world, but it will be a vast amount to them and their company. This is a situation the club should never have allowed to happen.
The finger-pointing has been going on for quite some months now, with Peter Storrie and Gaydamak on the receiving end of most of them. Gaydamak’s decision to bring a unanimous halt to any funds at the back end of 2008 was where the mess started, but the horrendous management of the club before then is where this unmanageable debt was accrued – something the CEO, Storrie, has to take a fair share of the responsibility for.
What’s more, many fans will be asking why this happened now, and not back in September/October last year. Apparently, Ali al-Faraj rode in on his white horse to save the club from administration in October as he relieved Sulaiman al-Fahim of his laughable tenure. But al-Faraj’s baffling rein only saw administration delayed and it has now seen the club lose their ground – which Chanrai now owns – with the outfit arguably in even more of a mess with the same kind of debt still outstanding. One can’t help but think if this had happened back in October, there would at least have been more time to get the club on a steady footing heading into the Championship, instead of being lumped with a likely 15-point penalty to begin life in the second tier. It also means whoever buys the club will do so without acquiring the stadium, land around the stadium or the offices, which will have to be negotiated with Chanrai and Gaydamak.
It all leaves the club in a sorry state. But administration does mean the club is far more attractive to any prospective buyers. The past two weeks has seen Storrie claim numerous parties’ interests, with two thought to be serious bidders. However, nothing could be tied up before Monday’s court date so the club had no option but to file for administration. The coming weeks and months promise to offer plenty but while most of what is to come will do little to lift spirits on the south coast, it’s all about agreeing deals with respective parties and getting the club back to running smoothly with manageable debts. Whether that is with a points penalty for next season, only time will tell, although it sounds likely.
To be frank, the situation looks set to get a whole lot worse before it gets better. Just look at the likes of Southampton and Leeds who went into freefall following a similar process. Pompey fans will know the next few years will offer many more obstacles and any ambitions of competing at the higher echelons of the English game will have to be put on hold.
For now, Pompey will look to their remaining league fixtures knowing they are without hope – barring a major miracle. A trip to relegation threatened Burnley should’ve been a six-pointer, but the defeat to Stoke and the upcoming nine-point penalty means Pompey travel to Lancashire with zero pressure and the freedom to play without fear. They do, however, have an FA Cup quarter-final against Birmingham to look forward to next month. A day out at Wembley for the fans would be a perfect way to wave goodbye to the good times the club has had in the last five years, ones they will be waiting a while to see again.
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