Club Focus – Portsmouth – The millionaire behind the secret millionaire

Avram Grant this week claimed “you can write many books” on what has happened at Portsmouth in the last 18 months, and after another full week of ‘goings-on’, there can be a further two chapters added to this relentless saga.

Firstly, administration finally hit home following the inevitable nine-point deduction and now pending relegation. It leaves Grant’s side a hefty 17 points off safety – a gap that even in Pompey’s dumbfounding world is unlikely to see some kind of miracle turnaround. But as their relegation was all but confirmed on Wednesday, the club’s financial situation received a shot in the arm after a potential investor cemented his interest. Now it just wouldn’t Pompey if the situation was quite that simple would it? As it goes, no-one knows who the investor, or investors, are, instead the club have been presented with the face of the consortium, property developer Rob Lloyd, who will be pumping next to no cash into the club himself, but will act as the club’s ‘prospective chairman.’ However, this doesn’t sit well with the current Pompey hierarchy, as owner Balram Chanrai and administrator Andrew Andronikou have already raised doubts about the bid. The main worries come in the form of the secrecy behind the main money-man who wants to keep his identity hidden.

However, Lloyd is less afraid of the limelight. His appearance on Channel 4’s, Secret Millionaire program shows just how comfortable he is in the spotlight, which is the main worry of Andronikou. Lloyd spent the best part of last week giving interviews to any newspaper that will listen but until Monday’s game at Liverpool, he hadn’t even met with Andronikou – something the administrator was understandably sceptical about. What’s more the £3m deposit which grants his consortium a 14-day ‘exclusivity period’ is still yet to be paid to the club despite an agreement between the two parties. Forgive the scepticism, but for all Lloyd’s timely and promising words, as well as his crowd-pleasing meeting with selected supporters’ groups, his actions are yet to live up to his words and following all that has gone before, the cynicism of the fans at Fratton Park will only grow by each day and each further shortcoming.

Whether Lloyd, and his group, will be Pompey’s eventual saviour remains to be seen, but he must start providing substance to his claims or he will be fighting a losing battle before he even starts. His desire to keep the investor nameless is the last thing anyone interested in Pompey should think of doing at this moment in time. The fans are rightly untrustworthy of any new potential owners, so to attempt to keep any identities hidden only adds fuel to that fire and just more uncertainty shadowing the club. What is needed, is an owner or investor who is going to be up-front, frank and realistic with the fans. No-one is asking for miracles, or short-term ‘people-pleasers’ making false promises, this is about drawing a line under this ridiculous fiasco and building the club back up slowly and surely to the point it is back on a stable footing and ready to start looking onwards and upwards.

Meanwhile, on the football side of things, Pompey welcome Hull to Fratton Park this weekend, with the hosts in desperate need to start building some decent form in time for their FA Cup semi-final on April 11. Ironically, Hull were reportedly chasing Blues boss Grant in the hope they could lure him to Humberside, before opting for Iain Dowie. No doubt Saturday’s game is one the visitors will know they need to win if they harbour genuine hopes of staying in the league, so it will be down to Grant to motivate his troops in order to match the Tigers’ desire. Monday’s defeat at Liverpool confirmed many fans’ worry that the team will, just be going through the motions from now until May – in the league that is – so Grant will be keen to prove that this is not the case next time out. Besides, the Hull game is just one of four before the Wembley show-piece, so time is running out for the players to mount a challenge for their spots in the line-up.

But that’s the situation at the moment, indeed as the saying goes, ‘All roads lead to Wembley’, as do all Pompey’s thoughts. That and the incessant takeover rumours which for now still flatter to deceive. Who knows, this time this week Lloyd may well have stepped up as Pompey’s knight in shining armour – you just never know with Pompey.

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