Portsmouth’s woes unlikely to slow Premier League’s journey to oblivion
There is something of the boy who cried wolf about Portsmouth’s appearance in the High Court this week as fans were warned that the 112-year old club was within hours of going out of business.
In the last 20 years or so literally dozens of English league clubs have gone into administration, some more than once, but how many have actually folded?
A few points docked here, a new holding company set up there and within no time the same “club” with the same players are still doing their thing in the same stadium.
And even those that have disappeard since the Second World War – Accrington Stanley, Aldershot and Maidstone – resurrected themselves down the line and after moving through the minor leagues, are now back plying their trade in the professional league or high in the pyramid.
Portsmouth will be back in court next month when they will have to prove that they can come up with some quick money to satisfy Revenue and Customs officials who say the club owes around 12 million pounds in various unpaid taxes.
Many leading names in and around the game have expressed shock that a Premier League club, FA Cup winners less than two years ago and on the receiving end of countless millions of pounds of TV money, could get into such a mess.
But how many people actually believed they would be wound-up on Wednesday? Certainly very few of the fans who queued for hours for tickets for this weekend’s FA Cup derby with Southampton.
Maybe a few chairmen and owners will have a new look at their accounts and follow the example of West Ham’s David Sullivan who announced this week that everyone at the club would have to take a 25 percent pay cut.
But if someone decides to gallop to the rescue and become Portsmouth’s fifth owner in a year, how much will change?
Will Chelsea stop paying weekly salaries that would keep a fourth division club in business for years? I’d say it’s unlikely.
Tragic though it would be for the city of Portsmouth, it might take a “big club” like theirs to go bust for things to actually start changing in the money-mad world of the Premier League.
Maybe if there were only four clubs left in “the most exciting league in the world” and every weekend was “Super Sunday” on Sky, the people who run football in England would wake up to the fact that what is going on is not good for the clubs, the fans or the game and that they have a duty to do something about it.
PHOTO: A sign is seen outside Portsmouth Football Club’s home ground, Fratton Park, in Portsmouth, southern England February 9, 2010. Portsmouth FC has been in discussions with Britain’s Revenue & Customs with the aim of preventing the club being wound up in the High Court, local media reported. REUTERS/ Eddie Keogh