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Grant & Pompey fight on

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Phil McNulty | 21:05 UK time, Saturday, 13 February 2010

Avram Grant - the trademark dark clothes a sombre reflection of his low-key personality - bowed theatrically and uncharaceristically in front of ecstatic fans. It was as if victory against Southampton was his and Portsmouth's FA Cup final.

It may turn out to be just that after Pompey were given only a week to draw up a statement of the club's financial affairs and given a provisional High Court date of 1 March to hear their winding-up petition.

This comes five days before the scheduled FA Cup quarter-final, so a win against the despised arch-rivals from 15 miles down the south coast may yet prove their last fling in a competiton they won two seasons ago.

The only winding-up Portsmouth were subjected to on Saturday came courtesy of Saints' fans waving wallets and cash in their direction, and the sight of fake sheikhs dotted around St Mary's.


grant_blog.jpgGrant enjoys a rare chance to celebrate a Portsmouth win

Grant has proved an unlikely figurehead in Pompey's days of crisis, from the fiery and out of character confrontation with referee Kevin Friend at half-time in the draw against Sunderland last Tuesday to the emotional scenes on and off the pitch after a flattering 4-1 win at St Mary's.

He even entered the media theatre with his mobile phone glued to his ear relaying news of his triumph to his son. "Everything's OK. We won," he said.

Not quite Avram. Everything is obviously not OK at Fratton Park, but for now the second vital victory in Portsmouth's week would do nicely, especially coming on this hostile enemy territory.

Grant has been forced to indulge in crisis management from the moment he succeeded Paul Hart, and he admitted: "People always ask me to write a book about Chelsea. It is better to write a book about Portsmouth. It would be a best seller. You could write a book every day at Portsmouth."

It was a passionate performance, but not so clever when Grant aimed an attack at the Premier League's lack of fair play for imposing a transfer embargo on the club in January.

They were fortunate to be able to make even loan signings given their parlous position, and Quincy Owusu-Abeyie, one such arrival from Spartak Moscow, proved a game-changer at St Mary's, pulling Pompey out of a pit of struggle and putting them on the path to victory.

Grant has no real cause for complaint. How can he when Pompey get a stay of execution and more time to fight the winding-up order - and then bring in another player in the shape of Dusko Tosic? How must the people owed money view that?

All the sympathy must be reserved for Pompey's fans, out in force and vociferous again in their hour of need and an easy target for neighbours Southampton, who have found the sort of owner and benefactor in Swiss-German businessman Markus Liebherr that they crave at Fratton Park.

Liebherr is neither heard nor seen, but there is fierce ambition behind the scenes at St Mary's and a determination to fast-track to the Premier League. If it all comes at Portsmouth's expense so much the better, at least as far as Saints' supporters are concerned.

This derby meeting is not a case of no love lost, but undiluted hatred in many quarters. Hate is a strong word, but not for some of the scenes inside and outside St Mary's on Saturday as fans clashed with police.

As the action unfolded amid simmering mutual hostility, the game appeared little more than a sideshow to many fans intent only on verbal confrontation and more besides with their opposite numbers.

If Grant is ever tempted to put pen to paper on his time at Pompey, he might reflect on what a different ending this particular story could have had if Southampton had taken advantage of the superiority they exerted for an hour.

Pompey were indebted to goalkeeper David James, particularly as he saved from Papa Waigo N'Diaye and Adam Lallana, although he demonstrated the uncertainty that is never far beneath the surface when he dropped Ricky Lambert's corner on to the head of the unsuspecting Radhi Jaidi and was lucky to escape.

Owusu-Abeyie shifted the balance towards Pompey with his pace, and the final scoreline was as much the result of the naivety shown by Alan Pardew's side in wildly chasing an equaliser as it was from the visitors' excellence.

Pompey, for all their other failings, have the priceless quality of pace in attack. It made Southampton sitting ducks in the closing phases as Aruna Dindane, Nadir Belhadj and Jamie O'Hara snuffed out the optimism that swept around St Mary's after Lambert's leveller.

ohara_blog.jpgO'Hara's fine goal capped a spirited performance by Portsmouth

If Southampton, and the demanding Liebherr regime, wanted a measure of their progress under Pardew, then they should look to the first 70 minutes as opposed to the last 20. Promotion may not come this season, but Pardew is finally pointing this fallen club in the right direction once more.

Lallana looks an exciting prospect and Lambert is a guarantee of goals at Saints' current level, and perhaps even higher.

Of course there is rich irony in Southampton fans flaunting their new-found wealth at Portsmouth when they were in administration themselves not so long ago. Perhaps Pompey might come to regard this as a sign that salvation could yet be around the corner - maybe from the mysterious potential purchasers said to be "waiting in the wings."

Grant deserves credit for the way he has pulled the playing strands of Portsmouth together, and he has clearly forged a bond with supporters who see him as a symbol of their fight for survival, judging by the mutual love-in after the final whistle.

And in man-of-the-match O'Hara, also on loan from Spurs, they have a player who typifies the spirit they will need to have running through all parts if they are to remain a going concern on and off the pitch.

So Pompey and Grant live to fight another day - how many more days remains to be seen.

You can follow me throughout this season at twitter.com/philmcnulty and join me on Facebook.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    First?

    Speaking as a Charlton fan, long-term success for the Saints won't come at the hands of Pardew.
    Too many average signings, tactical naivety and an inability to turn a poor run of form around are the hallmarks of a Pardew run club.

    We all sympathise with the Pompey fans (Saints fans may disagree), but surely their supporters had to wonder how a club averaging 20,000ish a week were able to fund the purchase and wages of Crouch, Defoe, Diarra, etc without long-term damage?

  • Comment number 2.

    Old 'Arry sure knows how to leave you on your knees.

  • Comment number 3.

    Go Pompey!!!!

  • Comment number 4.

    Grant has proven his quality with audacity to take this challenge of managing pompey, that he's a seasoned and quality manager.It's easy to manage a team stash with wealth in all ramification and no out of pitch challenges.He is now proving he's quality doing this now.
    I wish the fan,team,club and manager all the best in this challenging period.

  • Comment number 5.

    I kind of sympathize with the pompey fans. They have been exceptional all season. I only pray and hope they don't go into administration because it won't be a good thing for the premier league's image globally.

  • Comment number 6.

    2. At 00:25am on 14 Feb 2010, Pablo Aimless wrote:

    Old 'Arry sure knows how to leave you on your knees.

    -------------------------------------

    No, the inept chairman at Pompey who did nothing to veto 'Arry's spending left them on their kness.

  • Comment number 7.

    Brilliant, insightful coloumn Phil. Keep up the excellent work!

  • Comment number 8.

    Someone remarks "surely their supporters had to wonder how a club averaging 20,000ish a week were able to fund the purchase and wages of Crouch, Defoe, Diarra, etc without long-term damage". This is the thing that most irritates me about the reporting of this story - the glib narrative that this was little Pompey living above their means, buying the cup, spending money they didn't have and now facing the inevitable consequences.
    When you look at the accounts that isn't quite true. For season 07/08, when wages were at their peak (£49m) they were exceeded by Premier League (Sky) money alone. There was another £21m+ of gate money, retail, commercial, sponsorship etc or so to pay for interest on Gaydamak's loan (at 15%), admin expenses etc. Pompey's revenue was similar to West Ham's, about £4-5m short of Everton's and Villa's, and about £7m more than Sunderland's.
    The story of what has happened to the money since then is the interesting one........

  • Comment number 9.

    This cup victory must come as a temporary relief to Avram Grant and Pompey,considering the precarious financial situation in which the club now finds it's self.
    A lot of bad mistakes have been made by all the former managers of this club,while the merry go round of owners has not helped issues either.
    When ever I think about Pompey I look at some of the journey men players they have signed and shake my head in amazement, I mean who would sign a player like John Utaka on a contract of 80,000 pounds a week? Its crazy,and I bet there are others in that club on such crazy salaries.
    Such mad hat signing of players is actually what has left Pompey on her knees.

  • Comment number 10.

    'Liebherr is neither heard nor seen'

    If you were watching the game on ITV yesterday the cameras picked him out on a number of occasions as he sat watching the game.

  • Comment number 11.

    Credit should go to Southampton both on and off the pitch for the way they have turned around a club in just 7 months. As Phil rightly says, for 70 minutes there was nothing between the teams, in fact, if you look at the stats, Saints had twice as many chances.

    To have near on 30,000 Saints fans for two games inside a week and an average League 1 attendance of 20,000, proves again that Southampton's fanbase does outstrip its near neighbours and now we've got an excellent owner and ambitious chairman, the club is all set to climb back up the leagues.

    I don't want to see Pompey go bust, but it's hard to detach sympathy for their real fans with that of the awful way that club has been run and how it continues to plead innocence and expect favours when it can't even pay its legal and moral obligations.

    It's was Pompey's day yesterday, they had the luck when it mattered. Not sure that luck will last though.

    Onwards and upwards for Southampton.

  • Comment number 12.

    Re. Liebherr not being heard or seen I was speaking in general terms about the usual profile of owners. His is very low - and rest assured this is not a complaint.

  • Comment number 13.

    For me there is a huge question of morality about Portsmouth's behaviour.
    The Registrar in the High Court said that she believed they were insolvent but for some very strange reason she gave them time to prove otherwise. It is common knowledge that they have to borrow money to pay the wages of all their employees and have substabtial debts which they are unable to pay yet the FA and the premier League permit them to continue to sign loan players and out of contract players. This adds to their financial problems rather than solving them and it is ironic that two players in this catagory won the game for them yesterday.

    Portsmouth Football club have destroyed the integrity of the world's oldest cup competition over the last few season's. People who say this club should be saved for the good of football do not know the meaning of the word good. It is for the good of football that they should go to the wall and the sooner the better so that football can get itself in order and regain some decency and integrity.

  • Comment number 14.

    The biased bile of some of the defeated Saints fans aside, everyone has to acknowledge that fans do not set the spending agenda of their clubs. Pompey fans have been wrenched and twisted around by owners with no interest in anything but the state of their own pockets. The club that the fans invest so much of their lives in has been brought to the brink of oblivion.

    Since the exit of the foolishly spendthrift Gaydamak the club has been used and abused in some kind of off-shore financial game that the Premiere League seems powerless to stop. The FAPPT has been shown up to be the flawed and pointless process that it is.

    Avram Grant has demonstrated that he is a fighter, a sportsman and a gentleman in the last few weeks. Its a pity the Premier League and FA don't make sure the owners of Football clubs demonstrate the same qualities.

  • Comment number 15.

    To remembergreatescape...one thing is certain, Avram Grant is up for the fight on and off the pitch if his body language yesterday was any guide. He was very passionate about Pompey's plight after the game and it is clear the fans appreciate his willingness to speak out. I didn't agree with his criticism of the Premier League however - I still can't get my head around how Pompey can go through what they have done this week and then add a player to their squad on Friday.

    From a playing perspective, I thought Jamie O'Hara was the game's outstanding performer yesterday. Pompey are lucky to have him. How has he been playing this season@ And, if there are any Spurs fans lurking, are you sorry he is not available to you at present?

    He was biting into tackles, running his socks off and posing a threat. Very good display.

  • Comment number 16.

    Saying that Pompey would not have won if David James has not saved sevral shots is about the daftest thing Ive ever heard For goodness sake thats what Goalies suposed to to do!!! In the same way if Pompey had not scored 4 Goals Southhampton would have won So WHAT
    The other remark I found unexceptable that only Pompey fans deserve sympathy How about thr club staff who face unemployment after working faithfuly for comparitivly modest wages and how about their pensions
    I dont think the writer of the artical has the faintest idea of what he is talking about THe behavour of Southampton fans is sick
    I thought football was a sport But Sportsmanship seems to be on the back burner at southhampton

  • Comment number 17.

    It is legally & morally indefensible that Portsmouth Football club continue to trade when it seems that anyone willing to stump up another month's wages can become the new owner. I have nothing against Portsmouth in particular, just unhappy with the way football clubs appear to be treated differently from any other businesses by being allowed to use the Inland Revenue as an unsecured lender.

  • Comment number 18.

    Much criticism has been piled on Pompey's recent owners with justification. But the Premier League and the other governing bodies across the world must shoulder much blame for allowing ridiculous wages and transfer fees, to the point that any club wanting to compete in the top two divisions (and even Southampton in the next one down) needs a playboy benefactor to survive. A benefactor who can lose his money or his interest overnight.

    If Pompey go under they will not be the last in the Premiership to go. The whole thing will tumble like a stack of cards.

    And Chocolatebox kid - you atribute yesterday's win to luck. Four times? Down the coast we call that "outclassed".

  • Comment number 19.

    I was very impressed with O'Hara not just in this match but recently. It is kinda ironic that he is exactly the type of player Arsenal could do with.

  • Comment number 20.

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

  • Comment number 21.

    To be honest the "wind ups" by the Southampton fans appall me, they show just what is wrong with football at every level in this country.

    As a Utd fan I never celebrated when city went down twice and pretty much had to beg the govt for a stadium on the cheap to get the money to come back to the PL.

    Southampton fans should remember that not long ago they could have stopped existing, as could so many other clubs, and more could potentially go down in the future, including Utd who despite being well run and financed for decades suddeenly got lumbered with huge debts. I know Chelsea supporters who laugh at the plights of Portsmouth, Liverpool and Utd, yet before Roman they were close to being liquidated.

    People need to remember that football is a sport, it's their to be watched and enjoyed, gloating in others financial difficulty and fighting opposition supporters is the very opposite of what the "beautiful game" is all about.

    Personally I'd rather have city in the PL so we can try and beat them twice a season, win the leauge, and prove our superiority on the pitch, than see them relagated or liquidated. I'd like to think most Southampton fans feel the same about Portsmouth, but based on the scenes yesterday I hope that they never get promoted back to the PL, fans like that don't deserve it!

  • Comment number 22.

    'I dont think the writer of the artical has the faintest idea of what he is talking about THe behavour of Southampton fans is sick'

    I'm sorry Oapompey, but when Southampton were near extinction a few months ago pompey fans were doing exactly the same to Southampton as Southampton are doing now. The abuse then was constent and just as 'sick' then as we were going under. Dont dish it out if you can't take it when you are going through bad times.

    Anyway you haven't been through anything yet, come back when you get a point deduction and relegated to the third tier, which I'm sure wont be too long anyway =)

  • Comment number 23.

    Weirdest thing in all of this.. Pompey are only one win away from a trip to Wembley!

  • Comment number 24.

    chiptheduck, you cannot prevent clubs from living beyond their means unless you have a salary cap & that seems impossible given EU laws etc. IMO, the penalties for doing so are too weak. Football clubs should be treated like any other businesses if they can't honour their financial commitments. any club going into admin should be booted out of the league & have to start again from the bottom, as done by Aldershot. That might concentrate a few minds.

  • Comment number 25.

    The idea of destroying a football club to satisfy debters is a strange thing to do, the guilty can then walk away almost certainly scott free.
    By all means lets punish the individuals that caused the mess by putting them in jail for a few years, but punishing the fans achieves nothing and destroying a 100odd year old club is beyoned words without useing bad language

  • Comment number 26.

    It was a very good win for Portsmouth and may be a morale boost and springboard for their season. However, judging by the nervous and ragged way that Portsmouth defended in the first half, you have to fear for them. My team Soutampton had a number of chances and should have been leading by half time. The difference between the two teams yesterday was that while Southamptons finishing was tentative, Portsmouths was precise. You give a top team the number of chances Southampton had yesterday and you are in trouble.

    I thought yesterdays game was a good advert for South Coast football. The game was fiercely contested and I cannot complain at the endeavour my team put in. Unfortunately Saints were naive after levelling and three of the goals came from breaks where Southampton had pushed too many players forward at corners leaving our aging defence struggling to cope with the pace of the African forwards. I think the score misrepresents the overall match, but yu have to take your chances in the Premier League as Portsmouth have discovered.

    The situation looks similar to Southamptons demise with Boardroom rancours causing the club to internally explode. Nevertheless Southampton had less debt and greater assets (players like Bale, Walcott and Crouch) to sell. You have to fear for Portsmouth, if you take away their loan players (Owusu-Obeyie, Piquionne and most importantly O'Hara) and consider that James must not have many more seasons in him the outlook is bleak. You have to feel for the fans, its depressing when your club is looking into oblivion without people telling you that you are cheats and a disgrace. The fans have little or no say in how the club is run and this is one of the endemic problems with modern British (and international) football where clubs do not rely on fans as their staple income and thus can do as they please.

    As for all this talk of violence after the game, I do not dismiss/overlook it, however as the policeman in charge stated the operation had gone well and incidents were kept to a minimum. Neither set of fans should solely blame the others (e.g. oapompey) for this but simply conndone any supposed fan who goes to the extreme, whatever the apparent alegiance.

  • Comment number 27.

    What exactly did the Southampton fans do yesterday apart from back their team in big numbers and do what every other group of fans would do to their nearest geographical rivals if they we fed so much ammunition to take the mickey with?

    Stop being so precious, Pompey fans.

  • Comment number 28.

    "I'd like to think most Southampton fans feel the same about Portsmouth, but based on the scenes yesterday I hope that they never get promoted back to the PL, fans like that don't deserve it!"

    Come on lad give us a break and drop all the 'Holier than thou' rubbish. Yesterday was great fun and at the end of the day it's all light hearted. Pompey fans give us good as they get - they were hardly gracious in victory when they beat us at Fratton the year we went down! 2 of my best friends are Pompey fans and today they just as good a mates as they were 2 days ago - but yesterday it was fun to go head to head with them and give them some banter.

    This is what Football rivalaries are built on and I for 1 had a great day out despite losing. It's been a particularly tough time to be a Saints fan over the last few years and we are now for the first time in a long time enjoying ourselves. There was nothing "sick" about yesterday - just people having fun on a Saturday afternoon - no harm done (apart from the idiots from both sides who clashed with Police after the game)

    Like the vast majority of Saints fans I DO NOT want Pompey yo go bust - but I do think that they genuinely deserve a huge points penalty for the financial irregularities which are certain to come fully to light in the next few weeks.

  • Comment number 29.

    "The idea of destroying a football club to satisfy debters is a strange thing to do, the guilty can then walk away almost certainly scott free.
    By all means lets punish the individuals that caused the mess by putting them in jail for a few years, but punishing the fans achieves nothing and destroying a 100odd year old club is beyoned words without useing bad language"

    I actually agree. BUT - why should the rules be changed now for you? Saints fans were punished for Rupert Lowe's behaviour, Leeds fans punished for Risdale, Luton fans punished etc etc.

  • Comment number 30.

    P.S - I'm sure you were not saying the same last May when it was Saints being given a minus 10 start to the year??? Were you calling for us poor innocent Saints Fans to be left alone for that nasty m,an Mr Lowe to face punishment? Or were you like 99.9% of Pompey fans absolutely loving it and chanting Rupert Lowe songs etc?

  • Comment number 31.

    Naturally i'm disappointed by the result on Saturday, but where has this sudden butter wouldn't melt image of the Portsmouth supporter come from? I think the nations sympathy has stretched too far.

    Reddevil; I'm sure that during your recent 5-0 win over Portsmouth that your supporters made no reference what so ever to the financial woes at Pompey. Selective memories from one of those who laughed at our relegation in 2005.
    It's all banter at the end of the day and whether you wind up your opponents over financial woes or league status, you just have to give as good as you get. We don't want to see any club go out of exsistance, but like Southampton..Portsmouth will be punished for some mis-management and the fans will have to take it.

  • Comment number 32.

    how can anyone be prasing pompeys'win' and david james 'world class saves' the reason pompey won was not beacause o hara 'ran his socks off ' but because saints could not finish there early chances it would of changed the game pompeys game relfected a premier leauge team playing a leauge one team saints played well pompey had more skill. not hard to regonise . i love all you idots that know nothing bout football thinking because james let in one goal he should play for england!? he was saving shots from a LEAUGE 1 side can i empthyse that anymore!? does know one rember the man utd game he let in three own goals id love that to happen in the world cup we might win it :) ! Xx

  • Comment number 33.

    Oapompey

    Don't get me wrong I hate the money men at the top, and what has happened to you is terrible, but calling our fans 'sick' is just wrong.

    Like I said, you were doing the same to us, and I like to think of it as a bit of banter from two friendly local rivals who love having a dig at each others faults no matter how big or small the situation is.

    I hope you survive so when the next situation comes along the banter and chants can start again, but don't ask for too much sympathy from Saints fans!

  • Comment number 34.

    p.s also well said ChoclateBoxKid, Loughborough_saint and saintly hero

    When did we turn into the big bad wolf of all of this?!

  • Comment number 35.

    I have to say I wasn't expecting Saints fans to give Pompey sympathy yesterday. And I wasn't disappointed. Why should they? I wouldn't expect Pompey supporters to feel sorry for Saints in a similar position.

    This is the tribal element of football, although the incidents involving supporters who clashed with police are the totally unacceptable side of the game, and this derby in particular, and marred the occasion.

    On the tie itself, I was impressed with Saints for the first hour and it would have been very interesting to see how the game had panned out had they scored first. I felt they got carried away after equalising, and they certainly did after Dindane scored Pompey's second. They also tired and were easy prey to Pompey's pace and Premier League quality in attack.

    All in all though, I felt Saints had plenty of reasons to be satisfied, result apart obviously.

    And for Pompey, the big plus is that these players clearly want to play for Avram Grant and there is a unity of purpose on the playing side, notwithstanding the fact they they were outplayed in the first half.

  • Comment number 36.

    From a playing perspective, I thought Jamie O'Hara was the game's outstanding performer yesterday. Pompey are lucky to have him. How has he been playing this season@ And, if there are any Spurs fans lurking, are you sorry he is not available to you at present?
    -------

    No, not really. Despite the criticism Jenas is getting lately, O'Hara would still be about 6th choice to come into the Spurs midfield.

  • Comment number 37.

    I was at the game yesterday. I thought we gave Pompey some trouble but James made some great stops to keep it at 0-0, for us to win it we were probably hoping for Pompey to crumble under the pressure but that didn't really happen. As Saints pushed on at 1-2 they showed the kind of pace that we don't have to deal with in League 1. But when the disappointment of losing the derby goes we can still remember that we competed for 60 minutes and got an equaliser in as well.

    It's easy to criticise Saints fans but for the last 20 minutes we had to sit there and take it all back as well. I think we could be playing each other in the Championship soon and I (and I think most fans) really hope they survive next week, I'd be stunned if they weren't there any more. Hopefully most Saints fans can remember back to last Summer when we were weeks away from liquidation as well and we all threw our spare change in buckets to keep the club alive.

  • Comment number 38.

    Laughing Devil has written:

    ” People need to remember that football is a sport, it's their to be watched and enjoyed, gloating in others financial difficulty and fighting opposition supporters is the very opposite of what the "beautiful game" is all about.”

    To all those of you who harp on saying don’t criticise Portsmouth’s behaviour for the game is about sport just sit quietly for a minute and contemplate what is meant by the word sport.

    For me it means fair play, decency, honesty, and integrity. Not seeking an unfair advantage, playing by the rules and doing the decent and honourable thing. It is about pride and self-respect.

    Now please tell me how any of these epithets can be applied to the behaviour of Portsmouth Football Club.

    Which ones apply to the way they have let down local businesses by not paying their bills?

    Which ones apply to the way they have treated the St John's Ambulance people in Portsmouth?

    Which one's apply to the way they have treated their administrative staff by the numerous late payments of salary.

    Which one's apply to not paying debts but continuing to sign new players?

    Which ones apply to the way other teams in the Premier League relegation dogfight who pay their way and keep their house in order are disadvantaged by Portsmouth’s behaviour.

    Which ones apply to the fact that Portsmouth Football Club has collected tax on behalf of HMRC but have not passed this money on but used to it to fund a failed enterprise.

    This is not about sport it is about greed, financial opportunism, and fear of relegation and lost income, none of which is to do with sport.

    Portsmouth Football Club has lost the sympathy of the greater majority of the football world who have a modicum of understanding of the rules of business. The only people offering them words of condolence or support are the ill-informed and people who rather naively think that the matters at Portsmouth are to do with sport.

  • Comment number 39.

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

  • Comment number 40.

    "I only pray and hope they don't go into administration because it won't be a good thing for the premier league's image globally."

    I rather hope they do, for... the same reason. It's that 'global image' emphasis which is a big part of the Noughties bubble which can and must deflate.

    "As a Utd fan I never celebrated when city went down twice and pretty much had to beg the govt for a stadium on the cheap to get the money to come back to the PL."

    As someone with no particular favourite team, I haven't forgotten how City made it to the Premier League - not only that stadium, but beating Gillingham in the playoff final in 1999 thanks to too much time being added on (not to mention the Gills being denied a stonewall penalty, which the Sky commentators thought merely cancelled out a nonsensical penalty shout at the other end in the opening seconds which no referee in the country would have given). Funnily enough, City fans forgot that when they lost in similarly contentious circumstances earlier in the season to a United side that had unquestionably outplayed them for most of the game. Funny that.

    I must say, laughingdevil, you are quite right. When - not if, when - Portsmouth are liquidated, at least a dozen more of the current 92 (in addition to a lot of clubs in the top two steps of the non-league pyramid, led by Chester City) will follow. This is a good thing, it is the side of 'football as a business' which really needs enforcing.

    Remember how we all quite rightly criticised the banks for privatised profits and socialised losses? This is exactly the same business model. It's three years overdue, if not more, but we are finally seeing the same consequences. Hopefully a newly determined HMRC (perhaps buoyed by support from a Cameron administration from the end of this season?) will be able to claw our money back - and it is our money, whether we are fans of any club or not - and force football back into responsibility.

    Until then, my faith in football as simply a sport - and all that that means, as eloquently expressed by Dad Who Were Pompey - has been shattered.

  • Comment number 41.

    Totally agree Mr Howell; only "problem" is that since the arrival of the money men it's hard to prevent clubs from falling into the hands of unscrupulous or incompetent owners & the supporters are the ones who suffer. However, the "administration" card has been played far too often by the likes of Ken Bates.

  • Comment number 42.

  • Comment number 43.

    These comments are another example of how Southampton supporters can't accept they lost to their south coast rivals.
    If Portsmouth lost we would've been gracious in defeat, gritting our teeth in the process. Not shouting our mouth off going for the easy target which is our current climate.

    I remember last year when you were days away from oblivion telling my friend who is a Southampton supporter I had massive sympathy from their plight, and I seemed to remember a lot of Pompey supporters did. Yes there are idiots who gloat at these things, but when is there never those sort of people.

    Yesterday I seemed to remember 27,000 hypocrites waving their money at us.

  • Comment number 44.

    Oaktowers my comments are nothing to do with winning or losing a football match.

    Many people who have nothing to do with the local rivalry on the south coast are expressing the same views.

    Instead of fobbing of the above comments with irrelevant responses try answering the specific arguments put by posters.

    Tell us whether you are proud of the behaviour of your football club and explain your answer.

    I am sure everyone would like to read what you have to say.

  • Comment number 45.

    Oaktowers - how on earth can you justify your comments?!

    Yes you may have sympathised with your SFC friends but I think as far as our plight at the time goes, you were in a significant minority. The general Pompey majority have always revelled in our misfortune, not least during our relegation in 2005 when many Pompey fans turned up to their game against our relegation rivals West Brom wearing WBA shirts.

    Short memory? I think so. If you can dish out the banter (and let's face it, apart from the idiots intent on violence - who aren't proper fans anyway - that's all it is) but you can't take it, then I think you'll find that, in fact, is true hypocrisy.

    I hope Pompey survive but I also hope their hierarchy pay the appropriate penalty for the kind of woeful mismanagement that Saints fans are unfortunately all too familiar with.

  • Comment number 46.

    @Oaktowers yesterday i seemed to rember 4000 idiots who think they are the best fans in the world and think there team should get sepcial treatment when so many other clubs have been through it why should portsmouth be any different ? pompey are a bad team with no future even if they do worm there way out of this wich they most likely will as tehy are lucky . saints get to the fa cup final have to paly arsenal . pompey get there have to play cardif city?!

  • Comment number 47.

    @Henry

    What did you want the police to do!? Let Portsmouth run riot in Southampton, you are one niave person to assume we got 'special' treatment, I think it was protecting the city and the people who are not interested in the game.

    Portsmouth aren't a bad side, I for one am glad were going down, getting away from the awful biased nature of the Premier League.

    Oh its a conspiracy we got into the final against a weaker team?
    Cardiff beat off Middlesborough, Barnsley (which Barnsley knocked out Chelsea) and us Portsmouth knocked out Man Utd and West Brom thats most of the Top 4 gone before the Semi-Finals. The 2008 FA Cup final was two teams who deserved to get the final for playing well beating teams bigger than them. Portsmouth didn't even conceed a goal throught.
    Sorry if I forgot that the FA Cup was just for the Top 4.

  • Comment number 48.

    Hopefully about 10 days are left for Portsmouth FC. In the years to come I want to see sad old men sitting pubs in Portsmouth reminiscing about the past and being ignored by the youth of their town who will too be busy watching the Saints on TV !

  • Comment number 49.

    Phil- I agree with you about Avram Grant, always thought he got 'short-changed' at Chelsea, as Mourinho could not have been the easiest manager to follow; he may now show his true worth at Portsmouth, if he gets the chance.
    I must say I havn't really followed the story line at Portsmouth, but it seems to the outsider the club has had its 'pockets-picked somewhere along the line. It seems that with all the money pouring into the PL also alot of 'sharks' are being tempted into the water -or was it ever thus in Football Club Management?

  • Comment number 50.

    ChocalateBoxKid we are not looking for sypathy from anyone and when we do go into hopefully administration and not liquidation, we will not try to claim we are not in administration like Saints did. As for Saints having a bigger fan base, that is true as of this moment but, I think this is purely down to the size of the respective stadiums. I can remember being inside Fratton Park when the gates have been 30,000, 35,000 & 44,000 not to mention a record gate of 51,000. I think given the stadium we may well outstrip your fan base. As for yesterdays match Saints made a very good job of closing down Pompey's midfield and stopping us playing but that was never going to be the case for 90 minutes as was proved. I think you can be proud of your team and your support and wish you all the best for the future which, I hope Pompey are a part of. If the worst does come to the worst, we WILL reform and WE WILL BE BACK!

  • Comment number 51.

    Rory Cellen jones is a muppet if the worst happens I will telling my kids about the time we sent you down 4 v 1 and all your fans could do in the Milton End was cry. We will always be the bigger club, most passionate fans and the better history. Give me Fratton Park with its history and atmosphere to that souless lump of concrete in the center of southampton. Your club is a non identity, well I suppose there is 1976 but even the winner was scored by someone from Pompey

    PUP

  • Comment number 52.

    lets face it, portsmouth are relegated so this cup run plus the parachute payments for dropping into the championship might just ensure the club's survival if they can find a way to avoid the winding up petition next week

  • Comment number 53.

    "If Portsmouth lost we would've been gracious in defeat" oh Oaktowers you did make me laugh.
    As a neutral on the issue who lives in Hampshire that is the biggest crock I have read in a long time. That may be how you feel, but the Pompey fans over the last few years have more than earnt any stick the Saints fan gave them yesterday.

  • Comment number 54.

    richmay1: I happen to know that John Utaka is on about £20,000 per week. Far too much for someone (anyone) who kicks a football, but nothing like the salary that our oh-so honourable newspapers have been claiming. He himself says that he can not account for any additional monies paid as a result of his contract. Therein lies the rub, and the sordid details of this and other contractual agreements are the reason for controversy following in the footsteps of several people previously or currently associated with Portsmouth Football Club. They also go an awfully long way towards explaining the current disgraceful predicament that our club finds itself in.

  • Comment number 55.

    @oaktowers

    im not naive atal but all im saying is portsmouth think they are the best fans! im not saying southampton fans are better than pompey fans ( well anyones better than john westwood) but the majority of them arent like him thank god . but they have got to face up to the harsh reallity that the club over spent and have now got to suffer the consequences !

  • Comment number 56.

    So the behavior of Southampton fans is sick because of a bit of banter, that is all part and parcel of supporting a football club.
    The hatred that comes from this fixture comes more from the Portsmouth side a look on the Saints fan group on Facebook shows this, in fact the Portsmouth fan group even has a discussion titled 'The Best way to kill a Scummer'.
    But hey, the Pompey fans are lauded as the most gracious because they applauded Henrys display at Fratton Park a couple of seasons ago, no mention is ever made of the flags bearing the number 657 (Pompey's hooligan element) in fact the one unfurled at St Mary's yesterday had the red hand of Ulster with the words 'No Surrender' at the bottom went a little further than banter.
    Granted neither group of fans was ever going to be gracious to the other but for Saints fans to be labelled sick for waving wallets or dressing up as sheiks is a little off the mark.

  • Comment number 57.

    Pete Icannotusemysurname, you are wrong when you say more of the hatred comes from the Pompey fans. I worked among many Saints fans at Easleigh for 35 years and I can asure you that is not the case. At Pompey matches you may get the odd rendition of stand up if you hate the scum but, when you watch Saints on TV it takes on average 3 minutes into the match before you hear ''get your fathers gun a shoot the Pompey scum'' or don't you hear that? If the truth betold they are as bad as one another. I was at the match on Sat and there were some pretty bitter Saints fans around, just as there would have been bitter Pompey fans if the score line was reversed. Pompey fans are lauded as some of the best by indipendent judges, not by us, so there must be something in it!!

  • Comment number 58.

    If Pompey have a bigger fanbase, then why did only 14,000 turn up for the most important league game of the season and possibly the club's last ever game only last week against Sunderland?

  • Comment number 59.

    "Give me Fratton Park with its history"

    To have history but no future usually means that it is all about to end.

    I for one am not the least sorry about that.

  • Comment number 60.

    Henry Barfoot, we are well aware of the overspending at Portsmouth and we are bracing ourselves for the consequences but, WE WILL BE BACK. Pompey fans only think they're the best because everyone apart from you lot keep saying we're the best!!!!!!

  • Comment number 61.

    There was actually 16000+ at the Sunderland game. What gates were you getting when you were in administration. Oh sorry you weren't in administration were you it was just the company that owned you. LOL.

  • Comment number 62.

    Dad who were Pompey better to have the history than nothing at all.
    Southampton just like an unconsious patient for the last 100 years plus . No ones cares about you outside southampton. A non identidy. St Mary's your training ground, the whole set up is premiership and still Redknapp couldn't wait to come back to a proper football club with proper fans. Says it all really!!!!!!!!!!!!
    If it does ends for us well at least we had it.

  • Comment number 63.

    I am writing this to only comment on what is being said about Pompey's situation by people who do not have a clue about the clubs history and how we came to be in the mess we are in at the moment, to the saints supporters. We have been here in some degree a couple of times before, in the 70's we even had to sell off pieces of the pitch to fund the team and only the itevention of Milan Manderic saved us in the 90's so when you say we do not understand the plight of clubs being dumped down the leagues think again, true we have not yet been deducted points.
    On the other track the reason Pompey are in this mess at the moment is nothing to do with spending beyond our means because when Pompey where spending on the players we had not unlike chelsea, Man City, Notts county now west ham and even saints we had a rich benefactor in Gaydmac, unfortunately the rescession hit him really hard and he obviously pulled all the plugs, what has happened since then is the real mystery, apparently 16 months or so ago we were 60million in debt we then sold 80 million pounds worth of players and some how we are still in the same position so where is this black hole that is sucking the money out of Pompey, Drectors Pockets me thinks!! We are not the first to get in the situation and will ot be the last. Man U have got themselves nearly a billion in debt in the persuit of trophies so where is the difference?? They could well be the next club to go through what we are going through now!!

  • Comment number 64.

    Personally, I hope Pompey do go bust just to see that idiot Mr Portsmouth Football Club's reaction.

  • Comment number 65.

    Good article Phil.

    The Atmosphere was rocking yesterday, and apart from the result I was pleased at how the team showed fight and went for the win- although it did mean for 2 or 3 of the goals we were caught out by the pace of the two left-sided players for Pompey.

    Their counter-attacks were too much for us, especially considering Saints' defence is slow as it is. Cannot fault the effort from the Saints team, everyone gave 100 % and if we had taken one of the chances in the first half all could have been different.

    If's and But's will get us nowhere however, and at the end of the day, we couldn't score past James until 70 minutes and couldn't deal with O'Hara who I have to admit was a class apart.

    Top Performer for Saints: Adam Lallana

    COYR!

  • Comment number 66.

    Phil, surely questions also need to be asked of the premier league management as well as those who have run Portsmouth into the ground with their serious financial mis-managment? I mean they deemed some of this seasons owners to be 'fit and proper' owners of PFC, when they clearly were not. I find it somewhat shocking that they can them hold onto financies that are due to PFC, whilst at the same time they are a small part of the problem at the club.

    I cannot believe that anyone from the premier league committee, who passed the four? previous owners of PFC as fit and proper are still in their jobs.

    Oh and hopefully this post wont be removed by some of your moderators in the way one in which I criticised FIFA and UEFA was, I didnt realise that those in the upper echelons of the organisations were exempt from criticism, at least on the bbc blogsites.

  • Comment number 67.

    Over the years that I have read these blogs and comments I have frequently wondered what kind of mindless idiot sends a comment in that is either racist, abusive, senseless or other wise breaks the moderators rules. Well now I know. It's me! Sadly I have no idea why unless it was the mention of Ron Davies, Terry Paine or (more probably) the fact that I've been a Saints fan since lord knows when! Perhaps it was calling the "fans" who caused trouble after the game "scum". I'll just send in bits of the previous posting at a time and see which one gets "moderated".
    Good luck to Pompey in the next round, good luck to Saints at Wembley

  • Comment number 68.

    This win over Southampton merely papers over the cracks, Portsmouth are going to the dogs and nobody is doing anything about it. The F.A surely dont seem to give a toss, Why was fit and proper persons not effective enough to protect the club from shady investors? Lets see some answers eh? Maybe the F.A themselves need to be investigated.

  • Comment number 69.

    Re post 67
    Sad but true. Premiership side beats league 1 side. The good days, early matches against Chelsea, losing 6-2 at home but winning 5-3 away. Now we're in Division Three and Pompey in Division One. It looks as though they deserved yesterdays win and good luck to them.
    That's the next bit. Could it be an anti (or pro) Chelsea bias in the BBC? (Played 2 won 1 lost 1)
    Let's get to the bottom of this!

  • Comment number 70.

    Re 67 and 69 (68?)It looks as though Pompey deserved yesterdays win and good luck to them. Good luck to Pardew and Liebherr. Lets hope we can keep Lambert & Lallana and here's to Wembley! (Even Pompey can still say that!) Oh when the Saints go marching in!
    OK that's the lot.
    Let's see which one (or more, perhaps the moderators will ban me for impertinence) gets refused.
    Good blog by the way. Most of yours are inciteful and reasoned un

  • Comment number 71.

    Now a comment
    Good blog by the way. Most of yours are inciteful and reasoned unlike a lot of the comments left.
    Come on the Saints

  • Comment number 72.

    That must be it. A fervently religious moderator. The only difference between blogs 21 and the last few were the words lord knows when subsituted for Lord Knows When in comment 67.
    BBC fundementalists rule perhaps?
    My apologies to all those who had to read through this but I had to know (note that's not "Know")

  • Comment number 73.

    36. At 12:39pm on 14 Feb 2010, northernsuperspur wrote:
    From a playing perspective, I thought Jamie O'Hara was the game's outstanding performer yesterday. Pompey are lucky to have him. How has he been playing this season@ And, if there are any Spurs fans lurking, are you sorry he is not available to you at present?
    -------

    No, not really. Despite the criticism Jenas is getting lately, O'Hara would still be about 6th choice to come into the Spurs midfield.
    -----------
    Ok as another Spurs fan, I disagree, I'd welcome O'Hara back like a shot, in fact I couldn't quite believe we leant him out again in January as he would have been ideal backup for Palacios. As it is we've been left with the gutless and inconsistent Jenas....leant out the wrong midfielder me thinks.

  • Comment number 74.

    Manchester United fan here - I wish pompey all the best and hope they can survive. I think they're a good club, backed by passionate fans who I always enjoy watching in the Premiership - even if that blasted bell-ringer never does my hangover much good on a sunday.

  • Comment number 75.

    To be honest I think there is a bit of an over reaction about this win, essentially a premierhship team beat a league one team, like they should have done, hardly a momentous season changing game is it? Especially considering for 60 minutes the league one team outplayed the prem team, only defensive naievity chasing an equaliser (and the fact we had our back up defence) resulted in the flattering scoreline, other Premiership teams won't be so generous.

    As a Saints fan I am disspointed but let the Pompey fans have their 5 minutes of fun, the talk will soon be back to their financial woes. Their outlook is bleakeven if they survive being dissolved, they will be in the championship with -10 points, no money, no owner, no players, £60 million in debts and a small rubbish stadium, why would anyone buy them?

    Saints on the other hand are already going to Wembley, we have outside chance of making the playoffs depsite the -10, we are investing in our training facilities, the attendances are going up, we have no debts and we are even in the position of not needing shirt sponsor next year, I know which position I would rather be in.

  • Comment number 76.

    Middle Man: "There was actually 16000+ at the Sunderland game. What gates were you getting when you were in administration. Oh sorry you weren't in administration were you it was just the company that owned you. LOL."

    The next match after we went into admin we got 27k+ at home to Derby. So about 10k more than you.

  • Comment number 77.

    I am not sure I can understand the idea that if the club goes into liquidation that all the results will be wiped. Surely there is a difference between Portsmouth the limited company and Portsmouth the club. In times gone by, clubs were not limited companies, so unless they are now one and the same thing then surely there is still a club even if there is no company. In which case unless a properly constituted team (ie registered players) can turn up for a game then the game is forfeited and I think that means 3 points to the other team and zero goals - not the wiping of all previous results. Also the transfer window is for transfers not registrations. So if I can find 10 mates willing to play for nothing and the club secretary is happy to register us we can turn out. Do I have a point (no pun intended) or am I missing some key change in the way the game is now administered? If my thinking is correct is there anyone out there happy to have a go?

  • Comment number 78.

    Let's all get real here. Us Saints fans and you Pompey lot despise each other. You were merciless when we were in trouble and rightly so for such a huge rivalry. We in turn have our moment to mock you now. The one thing though is that, whatever the motivation behind the thought, no one wants Pompey to dissapear. Us Saints want to be able to lord it over you again and you Pompey people want to have your occassional day out in the sun against us. Let's just cut the stupid, precious "we are victims and you are mocking us" lark or the "you did this to us so we'll do it to you" and get on with the business of doing what local rivals do best; hating each other but relishing the chance to stuff them on the pitch.

  • Comment number 79.

    I am sick and tired of reading how great the Pompey fans are. They are some of the most violent fans I have ever known or seen. The worse thing is it seems to be something they are very proud of.

    Back in 2004 Pompey beat Saints 1 nil at Fratton Park, something they should have been celebrating but instead they decided they wanted to fight with the Saints fans. Fortunately the Police stopped any of their fans clashing with the away supporters but the wonderful Portsmouth fans went on to smash up their own place instead. I’m pretty sure most of the violence before and after the recent Derby match was instigated by Portsmouth fans.

    Their wonderful fans also were kind enough to redecorated the Southampton away end. Apparently they wrote some very “witty” comments on the walls of the away end facilities and most of the spelling was correct for some of the big words they used ;)

    Seriously though BBC, do some proper research on their fans before you next say how great they are. You don’t have to do much digging to see a lot of their fans aren’t that great!

  • Comment number 80.

    I feel bad for the fans, money is ruining football and if things dont change soon English football will go in the wrong direction, with all the foreign owners and players coming in young English players wont get their chance, Wayne Rooney was our last Prospect that's 8 years ago.

    Im a student studying sports broadcasting and i am writing my own blog comments would be most apreciated

  • Comment number 81.

    I am a student studying Sports Broadcasting please read my blog, i feel football fans should own football clubs

    http://danieljwaller.wordpress.com/2010/03/05/how-money-is-ruining-the-beautiful-game/

  • Comment number 82.

    Funny reading this almost a year on and Grant is in another relegation battle with West Ham. Things didn't start well this season, but if we look at the last few results since loosing to Man City on December 11th, 2 wins against Fulham and Wolves, 2 draws against Everton and Blackburn, and one loss (Ok a demolition) by Newcastle. 8 points from 5 games is not relegation form, and if they continue to play like they have been in the last few games then the fans will have something to smile about at the end of the season. The next couple of cup games could be vital for restoring the teams confidence after the game against Newcastle.

 

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