did you ever happen to see the british soap opera dream team? any american readers who have fox soccer channel have probably stumbled upon the drama based around the fictional football club “harchester united.” it was an awful show, as most soaps tend to be, full of murder, lies, deceptions and fraud. to me, it seemed like the show’s plot and circumstances always seemed so far fetched, so unlikely, because no single club could possibly experience so much turbulence and drama.
i was wrong. portsmouth are the real world equivalent of harchester united, minus the murders. though it wouldn’t surprise me if murder was the next headline to come out of fratton park. i’m fully expecting it will involve avram grant in some way. i could never imagine a manager that looks more like a serial killer. plus he’s got plenty of motivation to go on a killing spree, seeing how the club conned him into taking the managerial reigns of the premiership’s biggest hot mess.
it wasn’t long ago that pompey were a rising star of the english game. promoted to the top flight in 2003, the club’s most recent high point was winning the FA cup in 2008. there were ambitious plans to build the a brand new stadium, and had secured the land to do so. it seems, however, that they reached such lofty goals by unsustainable means.
the southcoast club have become a three-ring circus of disaster this season, bumbling along from one catastrophe to another. so much has gone wrong this season, it’s hard to keep up with. i’ll use a short timeline to illustrate:
- may 29, 2009: portsmouth were finally sold by french magnate alexandre gaydamak, who had been shopping the club for since december. gaydamak, who had himself been put under the microscope due to allegations of illegal arms sales, sold the club to UAE businessman sulaiman al-fahim.
- summer 2009: due to the heavy debts incurred during gaydamak’s control of the club, pompey were forced to sell off many of their big name players to raise cash, including: peter crouch, niko kranjčar, silvin distin and glen johnson.
- fall 2009: the club got off to a dreadful start to the campaign, losing their first seven league games. possibly adding a major distraction at this time was the announcement that, just two games into the season, club chairman peter storrie was leading a consortium to buy the club from new owner al-fahim.
- october 1, 2009: the club admitted that it had not yet paid its players and some front office employees for the month of september. it was reported that this was due to al-fahim struggling to get his loans refinanced so that he could access the money set aside to pay wages.
- october 5, 2009: portsmouth was again sold, this time being taken over by storrie’s consortium backed by saudi arabian property tycoon ali al-faraj.
- october 28, 2009: due to unpaid debts to other clubs (mainly in transfer dealings), the premier league bottom dwellers were handed a transfer ban for the upcoming january transfer window.
- november 24, 2009: manager paul hart was sacked by the club due to a poor run of results. personally, i think hart got the shaft: how’s he supposed to win anything with no transfer funds, unpaid players, and the club selling off all of his best players at the beginning of the transfer window? avram grant would replace hart two days later.
- december 3, 2009: the players were notified that they would be paid late for the second time in a season.
- december 23, 2009: the HRMC (or british IRS) filed a winding up order against the club, saying the club had significant back-owed taxes.
- december 31, 2009: broken record… the club announced the playing staff would again be paid late.
- january 5, 2010: the premier league witheld the club’s £7 million share of tv broadcasting rights installment to pay off it’s debts to tottenham, watford, chelsea, lens and udinese.
- january 26, 2010: don’t worry, the players aren’t the only ones not getting paid in portsmouth. the club’s official website goes down, due to them not paying their web hosting service.
- february 2, 2010: unbelievably, the club again announced that it would be late to pay it’s players. for those of you keeping track at home, this is the fourth time in five months the club couldn’t pay up. oh, the life of a professional footballer!
- february 4, 2010: sounds about time for a new owner doesn’t it? al-“mirage” apparently slipped into a blackhole, never to be heard from ever again. so portsmouth are taken over for the fourth time in one season by napalese businessman balram chainrai. chainrai promptly declares that he has “zero interest” in running the troubled club (nor would i) and declares that he and peter storrie will be looking for new investors immediately. oh yeah, and married manager avram grant is caught exiting a brothel (don’t worry, his wife was cool with it).
- february 8, 2010: avram grant murders david james over cornrow controversy… ok, i made this one up.
that’s quite the list, and it really begs to question how much more of this nonsense are the premier league and the english FA going to put up with? i’m going to be completely honest on this one: i’m tired of portsmouth’s shit. enough is enough already.
portsmouth are already propping up the table and six points short of 19th placed wolves (who have 21). if they are unable to ward off the winding up order by this wednesday, the club will certainly have to declare bankruptcy and go into administration. not only will this give the blues the honored distinction of being the first premier league team ever to go into administration, but it also means they will be promptly handed a 9-point penalty, virtually guaranteeing their relegation this season.
portsmouth are an embarrassment. i mean they literally look content to run the club into the ground. they’ve become the modern flag bearer of soccer’s financial irresponsibility, taking the throne from leeds.
it’s really hard to imagine that a premiership club could really become this big of a hot mess. if liverpool are soccer’s version of lindsay lohan, with a long and steady demise, then pompey are one bad judgement away from becoming the football equivalent of brittany murphy (promising actress has it all quickly come crashing down around her).
how does the club solve it’s gigantic fiscal nightmare? well obviously, they need to make sure that who ever permanently buys the club definitely meets the premier leagues fit and proper ownership rules. having all of these owners who claim to be billionaires but can’t pay loans is a bad way to stabilize your club.
secondly, the club needs to distance themselves from peter storrie. while he has mostly steered the club through troubled waters the last few months, he also oversaw the club’s extravagant spending spree that got them into this hole in the first place.
after that, i don’t know what they need to do.
all i really know is that the premier league and the FA need to act fast. portsmouth is doing nothing but harming the league’s image, scaring away potential investors and making owners question their current investments. and of even more importance to the FA, the fiscal irresponsibility shown by not only portsmouth and its owners, but many other clubs too (think manchester united, liverpool, west ham, and leeds), is greatly damaging england’s world cup bid hopes for 2018.
please get your act together pompey. you’re being quite pathetic.