After being deducted nine points, entering administration and eventually relegated from the Premier League last season, it’s fair to say Portsmouth are due a bit of luck.
Yet after seven games, five defeats, two draws and no wins in the Championship, Pompey remain rooted to the foot of English football’s second tier. New manager Steve Cotterill has been working with a paper-thin, skeletal squad and non-existent budget as he aims to stop the rot and keep Portsmouth in the Championship this season.
The south coast club remain in administration after their unfeasible financial planning came crashing in around them following the global recession, around the time of Harry Redknapp’s departure to Tottenham in October 2008. It later emerged the club were spending an astonishing £50m-a-year on player’s wages, which represented a whopping 90% of their total income. Such an inoperative business plan was never going to work as a long-term strategy for the club and their borrowing finally caught up with them last season, when they risked going bust.
The club were losing £23m-a-season and were left unable to pay players their wages, as well as having to enforce a numer of reundancies. By January this year the club were desperate for any cash they could raise through player sales in an attempt to defy a winding-up order from the High Court.
One piece of business which now symbolises the chaos surrounding the club’s finances was the sale of defender Younes Kaboul and goalkeeper Asmir Begovic to Tottenham Hotspur during the winter transfer window. While a deal for Kaboul was quickly concluded, there was a hitch in the Begovic move. The deal for the Bosnian eventually fell through, when the 23-year-old opted to sign for Stoke instead, meaning Pompey had inadvertently pocketed £1m of the North Londoners cash as a down payment on top of the Kaboul deal.
In contrast to the previous free-spending Pompey regime, just before the club entered administration they were scrambling around trying secure funds with add-on fees. The Premier League have since ordered Pompey to pay Spurs who filed for compensation after losing out in the deal. Portsmouth are however contemplating appealing the decision.
Despite the current doom and gloom at Fratton Park, the future could be much brighter for Portsmouth. The club are close to ratifying a takeover with Hong Kong based businessman Balram Chainrai, who is believed to have the finances to take the club out of administration. Portsmouth administrator Andrew Andronikou believes a takeover is essential and is keen for the Football League to approve the move.
Andronikou said: “The board will sit to decide whether to approve Mr Chainrai’s takeover and whether the club’s golden share in the league should be transferred to his company or not.
“I hope they say yes. They absolutely should do. But everything about this club has been like pushing a cart up a hill. But if it goes through it will be watershed. I can see blue sky ahead; the club will effectively be out of administration and out of the clutches of the Football League. It will then be down to the management and current board and playing staff.”