Move over Eastenders and Coronation Street, the soap opera down at Fratton Park is much better entertainment.
Portsmouth fans will yesterday have experienced another instalment of bad news in an ongoing saga that is showing no signs of easing. The players of the club have once again gone unpaid and it is just another incident underlining the scale of the problems at Fratton Park. It is the second time this season that the Pompey players have not received their pay packets on time, the first being in September of this year, when previous owner Sulaiman al-Fahim failed to provide the funds owed to the squad. The news will hardly act as the best of preparation for the south-coast side’s crucial relegation encounter with the travel sick Burnley and you can bet that Avram Grant will be doing his best to ignore the issue for the sake of Saturday’s game.
Portsmouth find themselves rock bottom of the Premier League table and will need every player in the squad to give their all if they are going to emerge from this campaign with their Premier League status intact. However it becomes harder to expect 110% of effort from players who cannot even be sure they are going to receive pay for their work. BBC Solent has reported that 25% of the salaries would be paid on today, with the rest expected to be paid in a week’s time, however if there is one thing we have learnt about Portsmouth this year, is that their off the field problems and financial situation are far from predictable.
The situation is also likely to have serious repercussions on the clubs bid of convincing the Premier League to lift their transfer embargo. Portsmouth were suspended in mid-October from signing new players after they admitted having trouble paying back numerous transfer funds including those of Glen Johnson, John Utaka and Younes Kaboul. It is another factor that shows the state of affairs at Fratton Park as the signatures of Utaka and Kaboul took place a significant time ago. With Grant set to lose a host of players in January to the African Cup of Nations, the Israeli manager is rightly trying to resolve the situation as soon as possible, in the hope that he can make January additions to the struggling squad, yet this incident will not have improved their chances.
Performances on the pitch have provided the Pompey faithful with a reason to be optimistic. I know my fair share of Portsmouth fans and many of them are convinced that their side are going to get a result tomorrow against Owen Coyle’s men. However, with off the field issues consistently undermining on the field performances, it is hard to see how morale can remain high at Fratton Park. The sooner financial issues are resolved the better for the south-east club. The attention of those at Portsmouth FC, most importantly the players, needs to be focused solely on Premier League survival and if this is not the case; it is hard to see them being a Premier League club next season.
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