Club Focus – Portsmouth – The blame game

It seems Portsmouth’s financial saga may just be coming to a head. Peter Storrie – who resigned from his role of chief executive after eight years last week – has lifted the lid on some of the goings-on behind the scenes at Fratton Park, with some staggering mutterings.

From Sacha Gaydamak, to Sulaiman al-Fahim, to Ali al-Faraj – all were on the receiving end of Storrie’s blame game as the under-fire former chief executive, clearly still hurting following administrator Andrew Andronikou stating he “must bear a large part of the blame”, pulled no punches in declaring whose fault this mess is. The problem is no-one will ever come out, hold their hands up, and admit to bringing Pompey to its knees. What is certain is all of the above names (Andronikou aside) have in some way contributed to the club’s meteoric downfall and all must shoulder the blame for their part.

But that is not Storrie’s feelings. In an open and frank interview with The Daily Telegraph, the reason the club was in such dire straits became ever more apparent. If this writer could offer up just one snippet from the former chief executive that encapsulates this whole mess, it would be this: “In January 2009, we were in a mess financially and I brought in an awful lot of money so Sacha (Gaydamak) gave me a £500 000 bonus.” So while the club fought for its very existence throughout the whole of 2009, Gaydamak still had the luxury of throwing away such a huge sum of money to a man already raking in “£600 000 a year basic.” The word basic thrown in there is due to the fact Storrie already benefited from some rather generous and inexplicable bonuses – including a win and draw bonuses from the team’s results. More bonuses were distributed in the wake of the FA Cup win, as Storrie even told of how fees were paid to clubs who had enforced a vast sum (Storrie’s example was £500 000) were their sold player to win the FA Cup with Pompey – something Storrie had not envisaged happening.

Storrie is adamant he had warned Gaydamak about the club’s “overspending” but that the Russian did not heed his advice. Instead he continued to fund the spending spree as if there was no tomorrow. But as we all now know, there was a tomorrow and Storrie was quick to express the same worries many Pompey fans have had for a long while regarding the ownership of the club and why investment came to such a sudden halt. Gaydamak has always claimed the worldwide recession was the sole reason for his halt of funding but, as Storrie states, funding came to a stop at the same time Gaydamak’s father, Arcadi Gaydamak, had his assets frozen due to an on-going dispute with the French court of law, in which Arcadi Gaydamak even listed Portsmouth FC as one of his businesses. Whether Sacha was being backed financially is still unknown but it’s just another in the long line of misdemeanour’s at Fratton Park.

Despite Storrie’s lengthy interview touching on numerous good points, he’s by no means cleared his own name. In truth the obscene bonuses will only anger supporters further – although it must be said, Storrie hardly writes his own contract – but the hefty bonus in 2009 was just plain ridiculous given the circumstances. Also, Storrie and Gaydamak have been at logger-heads for months now following Gaydamak’s apparent betrayal of Storrie when he sold Pompey to al-Fahim in August last year, instead of the Storrie-fronted consortium which he had organised in a bid to save the club. Gaydamak’s response to all of this: “Peter is making fantastical and potentially defamatory allegations in order to deflect criticism of him regarding the running of the club.” He goes on to say he isn’t interested in getting into a mudslinging contest with Storrie but we’ll just have to wait and see whether he can bite his tongue on this or not.

Overall, Storrie’s words are no surprise. He has always been adamant he is not to blame for the club’s mess, instead pointing at previous owners as the culprits. Although plenty will disagree with this, what does seem apparent is Storrie’s genuine affection for the club. That’s not saying he mustn’t shoulder a portion of the blame, but no-one has denied the hours and effort he has put in throughout 2009. It’s just a shame he contributed to such a shambles that was the management of Portsmouth Football Club – and that, unfortunately cannot be denied. His mutterings at the weekend only furthered what a horrendously run club Pompey have been for numerous years now.

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