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Ailing Pompey keen to savour final moment

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Chris Bevan | 07:40 UK time, Friday, 14 May 2010

Whatever happens in Saturday's FA Cup final against Chelsea, it will not be the end of the world for Portsmouth Football Club or its fans. As you probably already know, they have been experiencing the football equivalent of an apocalypse at Fratton Park for most of the season anyhow.

But for most of Pompey's players and staff, the weekend trip to Wembley is as far forward as they can look. It is only their supporters and, I daresay, most of the club's creditors who are considering a future any more long-term than that. Not that many of them can do so with much confidence.

The off-field circumstances make for a unique build-up to the game in Cup final week and are far removed from Portsmouth's preparations the last time they were on this stage.

Ahead of their victory over Cardiff City in 2008, I travelled to the club's training ground for their pre-final media day to hear then manager Harry Redknapp talk about the dazzling future that lay ahead. There was talk of revolutionary new stadiums and plans for a new training facility. Harry being Harry, there was also lots of chat about plenty of new players being on the way, too.

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Portsmouth had just finished eighth in the Premier League and had been in contention for fifth place until the final weeks of the season. Now their expensively assembled and star-studded squad was expected to brush the Bluebirds aside to lift the trophy for the first time since 1939 and qualify for Europe. Players were even asked questions about whether they could go on to challenge for the top four in the following campaign. Anything seemed possible. Looking back, I suppose we were all taken in.

Fast forward to this week's media day. Just about the only thing that remains the same is the setting. The Wellington Sports Ground is a shabby reminder of how hardly any of Portsmouth's £135m-plus debt is due to investment in the club's infrastructure. They still hire the facility from the nearby King Edward VI school, to whom they owe the small matter of £41,714.01.

Most of those big-name players of 2008 had departed long before this season - a campaign that saw four different owners, unpaid wages, transfer embargoes, administration, points deduction and, finally, relegation the day before they beat Redknapp's current team Tottenham to reach the final. There is definitely no European adventure to look forward to either, while any mention of a new stadium now would have been something of a cruel joke.

True, current boss Avram Grant was also asked questions about the future, but they were not along the lines of whether the club can go onwards on and upwards, more whether it can continue at all and whether he will be around to see it.

Like everyone else, he is not sure of either. "I love this club and I want to stay but I don't want a season like this one again," the former Chelsea manager told the assembled media. "I'm not worried about my future and I don't think about it. The future of the club is the most important thing. Who knows what will happen to Portsmouth next season."

It is the same for the players I spoke to, Hayden Mullins and David James, neither of whom know whether they will be here next week, let alone in August. No wonder they can only focus on Saturday's match.

"We all know it could be our last game for the club," Mullins told me. "You read in the papers that everyone is for sale but the administrator has just told us to wait until after the final to discuss our future."

Mullins, 31, has two years left on his current deal and is apparently up for grabs for £1m if the contents of a fax reportedly sent to other clubs at the end of April by Pompey's administrator Andrew Andronikou are true.

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"I don't know what to believe," added Mullins, who is not even certain of a starting place on Saturday but is used to Cup final heartache after missing West Ham's final against Liverpool in 2006 through suspension. "I was a kid at Crystal Palace when they went into administration in 1998 but I've never seen anything like this. Just when you think things can't get any worse, the debt gets bigger every week.

"When I came here in January 2009, I thought I was signing for a good club that wanted to move forward. When I signed, I was told we would be buying more players. It's not only broken promises to me, it's to the manager and fans.

"I don't understand why people have come and bought the club without having any money to do anything with it. It has been difficult to concentrate on football when people are losing their jobs."

Led by James, who was listed as a free transfer on the infamous fax and says he will begin talks over his own future next week, Mullins and the rest of the Pompey players stepped in when 85 employees were made redundant in March, striking a deal to save the jobs of four staff, including training ground manager Tug Wilson.

But that arrangement only lasts until the end of this month, as the players paying Wilson's £60-a-day wage are not guaranteed to be around any longer than that. Wilson remains defiantly upbeat and even jokes that he could still be watching Premier League football next season. "I'm not worried about my future," he told me. "The same thing happens to a lot of people who lose their jobs. The administrator is going to review things then but if I'm not kept on, I'm a Blackpool fan and hopefully I'll get a season ticket with them."

Pompey fans don't really have that option, unfortunately. The reality is that they are stuck with the wreckage of their club long after Saturday has come and gone, which is probably why their return to Wembley means such a lot to them. Their journey there has shown the spirit of the club is still alive, if little else remains.

People may rightly question whether neutrals should cheer on a bankrupt club in the final of our national game's most famous knockout competition but Pompey's supporters are blameless. If this is to be their last hurrah, then they have my backing, too.

The Cup will be special to Chelsea fans, too, on Saturday as the Blues target their first Double. But the tournament has taken on added significance for Pompey followers all season. After all, they have had precious little else to cheer.

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Matt Rogers, 34, a lifelong fan and season ticket holder, told me: "A lot of supporters have become numb to what's been going on off the field. It's gone on so long now.

"The Cup has given us something to focus on. It started with the Southampton tie in the fifth round. At the time, that was the only game that mattered in the whole season. We won that and the next one, too. For the semi-final against Spurs, my feelings were the same as they are now - just to enjoy the occasion. Saturday will be a fantastic day and when I am there I won't be thinking about what will happen next.

"In 2008, the game itself really meant something because we were favourites and it was our big chance to win a trophy. But to be honest, the result on Saturday is almost irrelevant. We need a buyer and the game might just be a showcase for us. If people are sitting watching and thinking 'there is something about that club', that might persuade them to get involved."

I think Rogers, who is on the committee of the Portsmouth Supporters Club and runs their website, has a point. It would be an incredible story if Grant does steer Pompey to victory over his old club. But the real fairytale ending would be for Portsmouth fans to see their club back on a solid footing again.

You can follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/chrisbevan_bbc

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Some good points I will cheering along Pompey on Saturday not least because I used to live there but also so Chelsea don't win the double.

  • Comment number 2.

    The way that all Portsmouth fans have backed the club all season means that they deserve the FA Cup. Lets be honest in 10 years times Chelsea fans won't be regaling tales on when they Beat Portsmouth at Wembley, Portsmouth fans would be.

    http://engfootyabroad.com/ - English Footballers Abroad

  • Comment number 3.

    It is really unfortunate to see a small club like Portsmouth getting relegated because of the finnancial problems with around 160m pounds wheras big time clubs like Liverpool having much higher debts still enjoying pretty well in the premier league competition.

    All the people who have brought the club in the past year hace done nothing goog to Portsmouth (all of them being tycoons in the middle east) whereas the person who brought Manchester city has been pouring in money for them buying player after player. We do not know whether it will put them under huge debt and they may also suffer in the same way. Italian SeriA has suffered from this and is recouping and now it is the turn of the Barclays premier league.

    The only way to eliminate this is to stop all this lavish buyings of big name players from big clubs making loans and start youth academies more in the line of F.C.Barcelona which will ultimately give you success for sure.

  • Comment number 4.

    I really hope that Portsmouth don't win and I really don't give them much of a chance against a rampant Chelsea. I think the next few seasons may well be difficult ones for Portsmouth fans and, whilst I feel sorry for the fans, I think the gross mismanagement that has occurred there doesn't deserve any form of success.

    http://the-fa-premier-league.blogspot.com

  • Comment number 5.

    I hope that everybody writes us off for this game and that complacency will give us a half chance! Play up Pompey!

  • Comment number 6.

    personally i will will pleased when this season is over so that there are no more blogs on the "poor unfortunate pompey plight" which have been covered till there is nothing else to cover. in the same way i hope Cardiff dont get promoted, as this is their only means of not going into administration themselves, i hope that Chelsea manage another 7 or 8 goal haul, then we wont be seeing headlines like Pompey Heroes if they do manage to lift the cup again.

    #3 It is really unfortunate to see a small club like Portsmouth getting relegated because of the finnancial problems with around 160m pounds wheras big time clubs like Liverpool having much higher debts still enjoying pretty well in the premier league competition.

    Pompey are not getting relegated due to their financial situation they are getting relegated becuase they were terrible for most of the season, even without the point deduction they were doomed to a future in the championship.

    Chelsea for the cup
    Blackpool for the Premier League

  • Comment number 7.

    I have to say that Saturday's will be one of those games where I want both teams to lose. My patience and sympathy for Pompey was exhausted long ago, as the scale of their financial shenanigans became clear. Their antics seem to have severely tested the usual solidarity between football fans, and I suspect that most of us now see that antics like this distort competition, cheat compliant clubs doing things the right way, and also cost us taxpayers money into the bargain. I can't bring myself to cheer Chelsea, but Pompey's involvement means I shan't bother to watch it, or really give a damn who wins.

  • Comment number 8.

    As much as i don't want Chelsea to do the double, Portsmouth have been cheating (albeit financially) and so do not deserve the FA Cup.

    I do feel sorry for the Pompey fans, but what about the other football fans whose clubs have been living within their means, Everton or Stoke for example? They would be far more deserving of a great day out at Wembley.

  • Comment number 9.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 10.

    Life is no a disney movie, so i cannot see pompey having any chance what so ever on Saturday. 4-0 to Chelski methinks.

    Feel bad for the fans for pompey, but the club was run in to the ground and was poorly mismanaged. Pompey fans may not want to hear this but they will prob do a leeds, maybe worse as Leeds were a far bigger club, who were still getting near capcity in elland road which is a bigger stadium.

    Save QOTW.

  • Comment number 11.

    Why don't some posters want Chelsea to win the double? With the football they have been playing this season, at least you'll see some goals. Want do you want, a repeat of the Portsmouth Cardiff final? No thanks.

    Anyway, as someone has said, Portsmouth were relegated even with the points deduction. Chelsea may have been lucky with Abramovich and his money, but at least they are running the club properly. That's the problem with the many Portsmouth owners and I would put Storrie very high on the list of people who have run the club into the ground.

    Let's just hope for a good game. An old fashioned, enjoyable FA Cup final.

  • Comment number 12.

    The way that all Portsmouth fans have backed the club all season means that they deserve the FA Cup. Lets be honest in 10 years times Chelsea fans won't be regaling tales on when they Beat Portsmouth at Wembley.
    ----------
    They may well be telling tales of how they won the double though.

    As for the fans, it was they who were calling for the club to spend in order to move to the next level 3 years ago.





    The only way to eliminate this is to stop all this lavish buyings of big name players from big clubs making loans and start youth academies more in the line of F.C.Barcelona which will ultimately give you success for sure.
    ----------------
    Wrong, if every club has an equal academy then nothing will change at all, there are only so many good players to go around, you will still have to buy players brought through other clubs

  • Comment number 13.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 14.

    Post 8" I do feel sorry for the Pompey fans, but what about the other football fans whose clubs have been living within their means, Everton or Stoke for example? They would be far more deserving of a great day out at Wembley."
    Don't feel too sorry for Everton or Stoke fans, If they had won their respective cup ties they would have been in the final. Pompey are in the final because they won their games scoring 13 goals on the way. We neither crave your respect nor expect it, we merely support our side with a passion that most other clubs cannot understand. I get the feeling that everyone wants to sit in judgement on us. So what, if you think we should not be in a Final? Watch it or not, that is your choice, our choice is to support OUR Club wherever they play. If we lose, then it will be because Chelsea have played better then us , and vice versa. But our supporters will still be there at the end whatever the result . We will always be there for OUR Club . PTID

  • Comment number 15.

    Lets be completely honest here. The vast majority of fans in this country couldn't care less about Portsmouth almost going out of Business. Sure there will be sympathetic noises made, but next season when they are out of 'the greed is good league' they will be forgotten along with other debt ridden clubs languishing outside the top tier.

    Even if Portsmouth were to wind up does anyone seriously think that would change the mindset of English football? It will take a massive club like a Liverpool or a Manchester United to go under before people wake up and realise that money, greed and Sky TV is killing English football.

    Good luck for the Cup Final Pompey. Really hope that this wonderful club can continue.


  • Comment number 16.


    6. At 09:26am on 14 May 2010, blackcatG wrote:
    Pompey are not getting relegated due to their financial situation they are getting relegated becuase they were terrible for most of the season, even without the point deduction they were doomed to a future in the championship.

    That's working on the assumption that the gross mismanagement of the club, the fact the players were paid late on 3 occasions, and the fact that some key players were sold in January in order to stave of administration had no effect on the players performances. Don't get me wrong, I'm not one of these people who'll say we deserve to stay up, but unfortunately off field events do affect on field performances.

  • Comment number 17.

    An overriding impression Chelsea just have to turn up is a bit smug. Chelsea win is not a foregone. Pompey did beat some big clubs to be here. And Spurs beat Chelsea in the League. And Wembley surface has garnered some weird notoriety. Its a cup game, and therefore on level terms. It could well be a close game, unsurprisingly at least for me.

  • Comment number 18.

    #13 remembergreatescape

    I think you're apparent bitterness has clouded your logic. There are two big difference between what's happened at Portsmouth and what is still happening at Chelsea which I mean when I say 'running the club properly'.

    Firstly, Chelsea are not committing to things they can't pay for. Portsmouth did and then some.

    Secondly, most new owners of clubs promise to invest money and this is usually understood to be private money they will put in. Abramovich has done it. The four different owners at Portsmouth have not and I can only assume that they intended to make money out of the club. Abramovich seems to want the club to be self sufficient and, if you have been following, seems to be there for the enjoyment of football. Can then same be said for the many Portsmouth administrations.

    Finally, can you just get over the fact that someone rich bought Chelsea seven years ago? It is what it is and the moaning has become quite tiresome.

  • Comment number 19.


    6. At 09:26am on 14 May 2010, blackcatG wrote:
    personally i will will pleased when this season is over so that there are no more blogs on the "poor unfortunate pompey plight" which have been covered till there is nothing else to cover.

    ==============================

    As a Portsmouth fan, I can only apologise to you for the inconvenience of having to read about our plight. I can only hope that next season, with Portsmouth out of the way, the media will concentration on the issues that matter to you, blackcatG. The rest of us will make do without.

    I mean, it's not like you could just choose to not read the article(!)

  • Comment number 20.

    I see McNulty's moderators are 'busy' on this blog now.

  • Comment number 21.

    "Why don't some posters want Chelsea to win the double?"

    Because Chelsea is a reminder that there is little real sport left in football nowadays, it is all about money.

  • Comment number 22.

    MrBlueBurns how can you say are a club being run properly!!!Since RA has been at the club the smallest loss you have made is over £40 million in a year. I think you find it extremely hard to break even in the next few years ready for the new UEFA financial policy about clubs playing in European competitions.

    I know RA has converted all his debt into shares so they don't owe him the £700 million he has splashed out but please don't say you are a club being run properly. For that look at Burnley, Stoke, Wolves and Arsenal where they are a properly run club making sure they live within their means.

  • Comment number 23.

    #18 - MrBlueBurns - You are not basing your argument on fact, clearly.

    Chelsea did not and do not live within their means and will never be self-sufficient. At all. Abramovich has bailed Chelsea out of financial trouble countless times. When he took over the club he 'loaned' the club £270 million to cover their losses and paid off £36 million in a eurobond issue.

    Two years on, Abramovich then wrote off £340m of the club's debt last year. That's almost 3 times the debt Pompey currently have. That's a 'club run properly' is it? You should probably drop the 'holier than thou' stance now.

  • Comment number 24.

    At 11:11am on 14 May 2010, FortressFratton wrote:


    That's working on the assumption that the gross mismanagement of the club, the fact the players were paid late on 3 occasions, and the fact that some key players were sold in January in order to stave of administration had no effect on the players performances. Don't get me wrong, I'm not one of these people who'll say we deserve to stay up, but unfortunately off field events do affect on field performances.

    -----------
    I agree that it may have had some effect on the players, but with all due respect to them and what you said, if it was having such an adverse effect on them, then how on earth did they manage to get to the FA cup final, and at the start of the season when there wasnt as much instability at the club they didnt get any points on the board for 8 games, so even before you sold all your "superstars" in January you were already facing life in the championship, i do hope that the future bodes well for your fans as they do seem feircly loyal, but it may take a few years yet.

    as for your comment

    As a Portsmouth fan, I can only apologise to you for the inconvenience of having to read about our plight. I can only hope that next season, with Portsmouth out of the way, the media will concentration on the issues that matter to you, blackcatG. The rest of us will make do without.

    I mean, it's not like you could just choose to not read the article(!)

    ---------

    thanks for the apology.....

    i didnt say that there was anything wrong with the article, but you have to admit that it is getting a bit repetitive now, even if you are a die hard pompey fan, that the last thing you want to see is another blog about how poorly portsmouth football club has sunk into the ground. and i am sure that up until the world cup it will be hanging around, but once that is over and the new season starts in August we wont hear much about it as no one seems to care about championship sides. so i will read and comment on what i like and if you dont like my opinion well....

    I mean, it's not like you could just choose to not read the (comment) article(!)

  • Comment number 25.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 26.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 27.

    Ahh, the old "buying the league/ trophies/ success" argument.

    The argument is as boring and wrong as it's user is deluded. Some fans (I stress, some) of Manchester United tend to use this argument more than anyone else.

    Buying success is the same as buying continued success. When Manchester United were the first team to become a Plc, floating on the sock exchange - a large influx of cash was made available, and transfer record after transfer record was broken. Yes, they won the league with home grown players in the first season, but then they spent BIG on top level players form all over the world. This was done to win it again. As each season all teams start with ZERO points, one can only conclude that this was done to ensure continued success - in short, BUY THE LEAGUE.

    They were the first club to drop the F.C. part of their moniker, yet harp on about "class, history and tradition". Do we take this to mean when the Glazers go, the F.C. will be reinstated after 15 odd years?

    All clubs are attempting to buy success - all of them. Some have the means to do it via rich benefactors - (My team - from when we were in the second division) - Chelsea in the early days of Abramovich, Manchester City and to an extent Aston Villa could do it. Most do it via normal business transactions, Liverpool and Manchester United etc. Portsmouth tried to do it via intentionally paying more than they receive, which is never a sustainable business model.

    Al Fahim, the first "billionaire" to buy Portsmouth, I had heard of as I lived in Dubai - to the untrained eye it was clear that his billions existed mostly on paper, possibly papyrus surrounded by vinegar. The amount of court cases against him by disgruntled customers of his "property development empire" was most amusing - it is amazing that none of the press here did some digging.

    I feel sorry for Portsmouth fans, as no fan of any club should be feeling as down as they must do. Hope they can be saved.

    I think the final will be close, but then I said that about the Wigan game, but seeing as Portsmouth have nothing to lose, it may be a tougher affair than when we played them last. Nothing is in the bag.

  • Comment number 28.

    i feel sorry for the fans of portsmouth who have had to put up with dud owners who lie about there money as a neutral i would love to see them win but it would need chelsea to have a bad day of biblical proportion

  • Comment number 29.

    #21 ch21ss

    Football transfers actually happened over 100 years ago. Therefore, there has always been a price on loyalty which is higher than the ethos of sport. To suggest otherwise is a little ignorant if I may say so. I'm not trying to be rude but it's the way it is and anything else is just a little romantic to say the least.

    #22 Nick_Hove_Actually

    Do Chelsea owe anyone any money? No they don't. Therefore, what they do is their business, unlike the situation that has arisen at Portsmouth.

    A question, for when Chelsea do start to turn a profit, as they will, is will the club be worth the cost of the shares, i.e. £700m? I would guess that the answer to that will be yes.

    As I've said before, people need to realise that football clubs are businesses first and sport second.

  • Comment number 30.

    MrBlueBurns you cannot continue arguing that football clubs are a business first and a sport second when you say Chelsea are a properly run business. In any other industry a firm operating at a substancial loss year-on-year would not be supported by its owner in the way Chelsea football club has. This proves that Chelsea are not being run as a business, but as a sporting interest to Mr Abramovich.

    This is not another 'dig' at Chelsea as you put it, they've been lucky with their owner as have Man City and that's the way these things work out sometimes. But they are not a properly run business as you keep saying. When Chelsea turn in an operating profit year-on-year is when they can be called a properly run business.

    UEFA's new financial regulation could hit the big clubs hard, as currently Man Utd, Chelsea and Liverpool would not qualify under the proposed new rules.

    The blame for what's happened at Portsmouth should not be solely aimed at it's owners, who are mostly at fault, but also the FA and EPL, who have continually ignored what is happening. Not just at Portsmouth, but at Hull and at Leeds in the past. Better controls are needed.

  • Comment number 31.

    If Chelski take it seriously, I'd be amazed if they don't win by 3 clear goals.

    As a Man Utd fan, I don't like them much but Chelski are definitely a cut above everyone else this season. You have to admire their attacking football.

    I'll miss Portsmouths fans next season. They're always top notch.

    I hope I'm wrong but I expect them to drop straight through the championship if they're not wound up first.

    Save QOTW

  • Comment number 32.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 33.

    If Pompey win it would be a win for English football as a whole, a club with nothing left but its pride overcoming the titans which is in Chelsea. What a story it would be.

    But still, wonder if Ancelotti willl lose his job if Terry slips in a shootout again! Would be great to see Grant get one over Chelsea, would I be right in saying it would also be Pompey's first win agaisnt Chelsea since their promotion to the EPL?

  • Comment number 34.

    MrBlueBurns you stating that Chelsea not owing any money means they are a properly run club which is incorrect. For Chelsea to be run successfully in its own right you would have to dramatically reduce the ridiculous salaries you pay your players. You only have a 44,000 stadium so unless your marketing department can sort something out then I can't see you making a profit in the next few years.

  • Comment number 35.

    Hi. It would be good to see Portsmouth win but they might not have a chance against Chelsea. ANYBODY WHO WANTS TO GET 'THE CHAIN' TO No1 in the charts can download the song from Monday and we'll see what happens.
    Anyone who knows about F1 can do this.

  • Comment number 36.

    Please can someone advise why my last post was not published ????

    I simply put that Portsmouth I am sick of tired of the media ignoring the fact that Portsmouth have CHEATED their way to the FA Cup this season (how ironic that i write that & you then dont publish it !!)

    By bringing in players in January when the transfer window was opened, when it was purely opened for them to allow them to generate funds by selling players, has make a mockery of the competition.

    Who said cheats never prosper ?

  • Comment number 37.

    Would be so ironic if Chelsea's 'Liquidator' song is played before the game tomorrow lol

  • Comment number 38.

    To all those on here that claim the Pompey fans knew what was going on and so deserve what is happening to our club, that is absolute cobblers! We were under the impression that SG was coming into the club to invest millions and take us to the next level and keep us there over a number of years, clearly that wasn't the case and he then sold our beloved club down the river, but I fail to understand how that is our fault?
    And to those of you that insist we should be kicked out of the professional league because of entering administation then I take it you feel the same for the other 41 clubs that have entered administration since 2000, I'm sure that would leave our leagues in a better state.
    As for tomorrow, we are massive underdogs, but win, loose or draw, we'll have one hell of a party! PUP

  • Comment number 39.

    Crikey, I didn't realise this issue still stirred such strong emotions!

    DBsKnees, there is an obvious contradiction in what you say. You criticise my 'facts' and then come out with a baseless crystal ball prediction!

    As I've stated, like it or not, Chelsea do not go around owing people money and not paying others. How that is funded is a matter for Chelsea rather than other people.

    Nick_Hove_Actually, Abramovich owned Chelsea is looking after itself. If he is happy to underwrite losses as they arise, I don't see the issue.

    I'm writing this now and probably won't see a response before mid-evening due to the moderation but I'd happily discuss the nuances of their situation if we had the chance.

    LeeTUFC, generally speaking people need to accept that they are businesses first and clubs second and we should accept the way businesses in the real world and run (leveraged debt and so on) before we try to have sporting arguments.

  • Comment number 40.

    Post #36, How exactly did we cheat our way to the Final?

    You state that the window was opened to us in January so that we could only sell players is rubbish!

    We were not allowed to buy players initially because we owed clubs outstanding funds for past transfers, once this had been settled with said clubs, the premier league allowed us to trade again, all be it at the end of the window.

    When we did ask the premier league to allow us to make sales in February, they said no.

    I'm all for people expressing their views on here but get your facts right first!

  • Comment number 41.

    Does anyone really care about the FA Cup anymore? A third rate competition which the big teams only show any interest in once they know where they stand in the league. Totally devalued.

  • Comment number 42.

    In response to MrBlueBurns at #39. The primary aim of a business is to make a profit. Chelsea football club don't make profit. Not once since Mr Abromovich bought the club has Chelsea FC made a profit. Do you really think he bought the club with the intention that he would make money from his investment? I don't ever think that was his intention. He has underwritten £700 million pound already, and the club continues to lose further money he has to underwrite.

    The situation is similar at Man City. The owners there are have not purchased the club to make a return but merely to own a club in the sport they enjoy.

    Granted, the situation at clubs such as Liverpool and Man Utd is slightly different, where the owners have come in and tried to make money from successful clubs. But in football this is mainly not the case. Most clubs operate at a loss or make very little money, yet people continue to invest in and buy clubs. Why? To make money. No. The answer is for their personal enjoyment from seeing their club try and achieve success on the field, not in the accounts.

    Football Clubs are sporting interests first, businesses second. Some have tried to make them into businesses first, but most are not.

    Take the example of FC Barcelona, which is owned by the fans. They do not run it for profit but love of the club. And the Bundeliga which operates the 50+1 rule, whereby 51% of the club is run and owned by club members. This prevents investors taking a majority share in the club. Both Barcelona and the Bundesliga operate a policy where they do intend on making a profit for their members, but merely run the club efficeintly and safely.

    This clearly shows that most football clubs are in fact sporting interests first, businesses second.

  • Comment number 43.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 44.

    Some good points here, from different sides of the fence, although I'll take issue with 41/ first of all... I think it's clear from this how much people do care about the FA Cup - Chelsea want their first ever Double, while for Portsmouth fans the competition has become a symbol of hope in a terrible year.

    The situation at Pompey is a total mess, no doubt about that. But I think the spirit of their supporters as their club disintegrates around them needs to be acknowledged, and Avram Grant and the players I spoke to on Monday were all extremely keen to do so. Saturday gives them a chance to do just that, and a final day in the sun for the supporters before reality kicks in. Surely you cannot begrudge them that?

    I don't think that means Portsmouth deserve to win the FA Cup (2/) but the antics of their various owners should not tarnish what you think of their fans. Some people here (for example 12/) seem to think they brought this situation on themselves but that's ridiculous and, whoever you support, you should be aware this could happen to your club next. Because it could, and you won't be able to stop it.

    Anyway, let's just hope for a cracking final tomorrow, and I don't care who wins.

    By the way, this story (below) hasn't been given much coverage nationally, but deserves to be. Crystal Palace did something similar earlier this season. It shows that people care about the image and integrity of the club, and its community... if only the people who have been running the club could have grasped that concept.

    http://www.portsmouth.co.uk/newshome/Charity-applauds-fans-as-FA.6295313.jp

  • Comment number 45.

    Where to start. OK, let's look at the wonderful fans argument. They have some passionate fans: no douubt about it, but some of the most blinkered. They are also not very numerous and have struggled to sell their allocation of tickets! Some more became available because not many neutrals were interested, and last I heard today there were some available. OK, I accept that if my club had owners like theirs I'd probably take the same attitude, but give us all a break, please...
    I live in Italy and impress Italians with tales of English Third division clubs and the crowds that they get: Leeds, Southampton, Norwich all do better than most in Serie A. All of these clubs have _far_ higher gates than Portsmouth and they are playing teams like Exeter and Hartlepool with small away followings.

    The transfer window in January.. so, they were already trading insolvently (which is illegal, if you didn't know that already) but they spent money they didn't have on (loan fees, agent's fees etc. for) O'Hara etc.., and didn't sell players they could have done. They took on more debt!!!

    Finally let's talk some more about the fans. Now, I appreciate that it's us fans who get dumped upon from a great height in these situations, whatever the club, but where were the questioning fans in all the deals that have gone on in the last few years. Man U and Liverpool have had groups questioning their ownership in the national press but I've never seen anything regarding Portsmouth and their arms dealing owners, or their skint or never-been-seen Gulf business-men.

  • Comment number 46.

    I can't believe the spiteful, vitriolic rubbish that people are spounting about Portsmouth.
    #4 writtenbyfansforfans - The fans have done no wrong so this "I really hope Pompey don't win because of gross mismanagement" isn't exactly "for fans".
    #6 blackcatG - actually Pompey were still well within reach of safety until the points deduction, when Grant openly decided to play lesser players with the Cup in mind, so our relegation isn't as obvious as you make it.
    #7 3 Mugs - I have some sympathy with your opinion, although there is the arguement that such investments have been a leveller against clubs like Man United (okay, not such a great leveller and at a massive cost).
    #9 IOM_Blade - What exactly is this "financial cheating" you talk about? I've seen it on posts to other articles and I'm confused. What are the FA rules regarding this? There aren't any. What happened at Pompey was grossly irresponsible but it wasn't cheating, in the same way that the massive injection of cash into Chelsea by Abramovich isn't cheating. If he were to upsticks and leave he would want his money. Do you think Chelsea are capable of paying off the debt? What about Real Madrid? Do you really think they could afford to pay £130 million on 2 players without going to the banks?
    #14 Bluesince63 - well said sir/madam.
    #36 The_Light_House_Keeper - again, where is this cheating? What rules were broken? Portsmouth needed special permission to get players on loan so the FA were more than happy to let us. Maybe the moderator thought your initial post was libelous?
    #45 sueandbedamned - Southampton, Leeds etc get bigger crowds because they have bigger stadia; it's a simple law of physics (mass occupying the same point in space). Also, I'll tell you where the fans were; marching through the streets of Portsmouth following the visoty bus in 2008.

    It seems to me that there is so much jealousy towards Portsmouth. Leeds tried to spend their way to European greatness and got nothing. Leicester and Southampton thought that new stadia would solve everything. Newcastle, Man City, Spurs, Everton and Aston Villa all seem to think they are entitled to trophies because they are big. They can't stand the fact that a small club has actually got a trophy AND have given themselves a chance at another. All this moronic nonsense about "financial cheating" and "where were the fans" is just pagthetic. Peter Storrie should be barred from football for life and the board of the FA should at least apologise for their laissez-faire attitude towards clubs. English football is in a bigger mess than people realise and I hope this is a massive wak-up call to ALL clubs.
    I will be watching the Cup Final in an Irish bar in Chongqing in China and I can't wait.

  • Comment number 47.

    Post 45# Just a quick few of points:
    1) Our ground is far smaller than the ones you refered to and they all had smaller gates than us when they first got relegated, yes attendances have been down for the last couple of games of the season but £85 is alot of money to fork out for working class families (thats the average cost of a cup final ticket, in case you haven't been there).

    2)If you watch the Fit and Proper programme (on here) you will see the demonstrations against the previous owners.

    3)People talk about the Pompey fans, not because of the size but because of the passion (refer to Port Vale many years ago, or when we got thumped 5-1 by Arsenal, HENRY IS A POMPEY FAN).

    4) Utd and Liverpool fans were complaining about the amount of debt their clubs were taking on, we weren't aware of any such problems (yes I know you'll say I'm blinkered)

    Would love to add more to this debate but I'm off to WEM-BER-LEY now!!!

  • Comment number 48.

    Pompey might have passionate fans, but sadly not very many of them. They have the bloke with the tall hat and the bell, a few of his mates, a bunch that sing along with them and - er, that's pretty much it. They haven't even sold out their allocation for the FA Cup Final and very rarely approach anything like capactiy at (as two vests #45 admits) is a small home ground. To say the fans 'deserve' their Wembley final might be true for this small group (I admire their passion actually)but for the fanbase as a whole, it doesn't stack up for a generally poorly supported club. And you have to question the collective wisdom of a supporter group turning up to a small ground every Saturday to watch half the England side playing for them and wondering what was going on. 5-0 to Chelsea if there is any justice in football.

  • Comment number 49.

    When asked why he had not quit when he suspected the club was being taken in the wrong direction by its owners, Storrie said: "I considered that several times.

    "But I was advised it would be a disaster for the club for me to walk out. It was better for me to stay and fight.

    Advised by who? his wallett or his bank manager, this just doesn't wash with me, it would be a disaster to walk away? for him financially, for the club, we would have been in admin with less debt, would not have bought a load of players we couldn't pay and would have been spared a lot of pain. I for one will not let this crook stay at our club a minute longer. He must think we are idiots!

  • Comment number 50.

    YEAH GUYS LISTEN

    PORTSMOUTH FINANCIALLY DESERVE TO GO DOWN, BUT (More Importantly) IN THE SPIRIT OF FOOTBALL WE BLOODY WELL DESERVE TO BE STAYING UP, AND IN THE FA CUP FINAL.
    We are simply a team of rejects and loans (except for David James).
    Our Goal difference was only the 7th worst in the league, not the worst.

    We don't even have the worse debts in the Premier league.
    We've been picked on by the Premier League.

    We...

    No one gave us a chance against Tottenham, and we won, so
    PLAY UP POMPEY! POMPEY PLAY UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 51.

    Good luck to Pompey - my missus is from Portsmouth and so I've a soft spot for them - I read the article where Storrie said he expected (or hoped) Pompey to be in the play-offs next year - I find that hard to believe - I expect them to continue their crisis next year - the CVA and administration may carve a bit off their debt but who in their right mind will lend to the current management at the club and who will buy it with the level of the debt and expect to go places - I expect them to do a Leeds and be down in League One by the end of next season and who knows after that.

  • Comment number 52.

    Another boring biased blog, have your journalists nothing more to write about than pedal this misery shame on you. So what? Next year it will be Liverpool or another 1/2 dozen clubs because of the mis-management of the EPL. As for Storey why even give ths idiot any airtime only one place he should be and that is in prison.

  • Comment number 53.

    I assume Peter Storrie is considered totally delusional after that BBC report. I mean Portsmouth could get to the play-offs sure. They could also be docked yet more points as they can't even pay the Salvation Army right now.

  • Comment number 54.

    Leader606

    Delusional post mate. You really need to grasp the difference between a servicable loan and a loan that cannot be repaid.

    If you don't pay the interest on your mortgage they reposses, if you do they don't care what you owe. Simple as that really.


  • Comment number 55.

    Can I also add that as a Pompey fan that to give Storey any airtime today, is a deeply cynical move by the BBC. Shame on you.

  • Comment number 56.



    Making finals of the prestigious FA Cup is already a huge achievement. Congratulations to the players and fans of Portsmouth and Chelsea. Let's wish the two sides a fine evening.


    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 57.

    For some reason my post got removed as defamatory. Not sure why so I've reworded some of it and will repost it! If it gets removed, I'd appreciate an explanation as to which bit is defamatory.

    ==========

    36. At 3:46pm on 14 May 2010, The_Last_Lighthouse_Keeper wrote:
    Please can someone advise why my last post was not published ????

    =====================================

    Your comment was probably not published because it's simply not true. It's the kind of criticism that we (Portsmouth fans) have become used to hearing this season - it seems that people read one article in a red top newspaper and suddenly think they're an expert on the situation.

    Firstly, PFC have not cheated their way to the FA Cup Final. The squad used this year is NOT the squad that got us into this financial mess. That was sold long ago - this years squad is a team of freebies, loans, and inexperienced players who have performed despite the off the field problems. When we've 'broken' rules, we've been punished accordingly, but the rules we broke are not those that I would consider 'cheating':

    1. We owed money to clubs that we couldn't pay. Punished by a transfer embargo until debts were settled
    2. We entered administration. Punished by a 9 point deduction.

    Furthermore, the transfer window was not opened so we could sell. I assume that by the transfer window opening, you're actually referring to the embargo being dropped. To clarify, the embargo was *not* dropped purely to allow us to sell. It was dropped because we rescheduled to the repayments for the money owed to other clubs, and the FA used our TV money to pay off others. Thus, there was no reason for the embargo to stand. Note that by this point, we were not in administration, and so there was no reason for us to not try and bring in players. We subsequently sold 2 players (Kaboul and Begovic the most notable pair) and brought in some more loans and free transfers. Nothing against the rules there. The Premier League have to authorise all transfers, so if it was alright with them, it can't have been against the rules.

    So no, PFC has not cheated it's way to the final, and deserves to be there based on the performances on the pitch. Our team of loans and freebies has fought hard and beaten the likes of Sunderland, Birmingham, and Spurs to get to Wembley - please don't cheapen that achievement by throwing around accusations of cheating.

  • Comment number 58.

    Paul Hart has left Portsmouth with immediate effect after being relieved of his managerial duties.

    Hart, who took over as caretaker manager following Tony Adams' departure in February, has left Fratton Park after guiding the south coast club to just two victories from 13 Premier League games this season.

    "Portsmouth Football Club can confirm that Paul Hart has been relieved of his duties as first-team manager," read a club statement.

    "The decision has been made reluctantly by the board and is based on results that leave the club at the bottom of the Premier League."

    The former Nottingham Forest and Barnsley manager declined an offer to remain at Fratton Park in a technical director role.
    http://currentwire.org/

 

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