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Portsmouth

And now, the end is near, and so we face the final curtain….

News coming out of Fratton Park over the past couple of days has mainly been negative, worrying and frightful. Portsmouth Football Club is facing extinction, yet the most concerning issue is that no one other than Pompey fans seem to care.

It’s almost sickening to watch the Premier League and the FA standby while the current owners appear to be liquidating the club and selling its remaining assets, one by one.

Suggesting the current owners are liquidating the club is a bold theory I admit. Evidence to this claim however is the knowledge that the club are denying the release of the club’s account books to potential investors. Thus, they are not looking to sell, despite what senior members of staff appear to be saying.

Yesterday saw a flurry of events that were enough to make me as frustrated as I’ve been since becoming a Portsmouth fan. I felt cheated, ashamed and more to the fact sickened at how my club has arrived in this situation.

The first episode of the day saw the club’s official website go ‘offline’, after reports emerged that the club had failed to pay the website maker, Juicy, on the last three occasions. I do know some inside knowledge of this event, however, it is not fit to publish, yet the knowledge is deeply worrying.

The club site did reappear later on that day, due to a miraculous transaction, to reveal the news of the latest ticket details for the FA Cup 5th round fixture against Southampton.

However, will Portsmouth have a team to play Southampton by Saturday 13 February?

Portsmouth face a winding-up order on February 10th. In these situations, cases are normally adjourned. However, the scale of which Portsmouth are in debt and owe money to, would suggest more serious and costly action will take place.

Recent rumours suggest that Portsmouth owe at least £250,000 to an electrical company, noted as Powergen, after failing to pay their bills once again. The workers who operate the advertising boards and the big-screen have also not received their wage, while the Marquee tent has supposedly been ‘re-possessed’.

The youth academy, if it can be called that anymore, has been deeply affected by the financial crisis. The team coaches have been re-possessed, with players asked to make their own way to training, via taxi or car-lift. It’s also been suggested they are not receiving adequate food in terms of lunches provided. I myself have recently heard that due to the unavailability of pitches for the youth team, a recent training session involved a run along Southsea beach.

This doesn’t sound like a Premier League club. It sounds like a non-league club.

The second episode of the day involved the outgoing transfers of Younes Kaboul and Asmir Begovic. The sale of Kaboul, while half-expected, was a cause for concern when media outlets quoted figures of £2m.

The club both players were set to go to? Tottenham Hotspur, or Portsmouth FC 08/09.

One certain media outlet started to report that both players were set to join Tottenham in a joint £5m deal. Daniel Azougy, the convicted fraudster, was placed in charge by Portsmouth owners to sell any and every player he could. CEO Peter Storrie and manager Avram Grant revealed that they knew nothing of the sales, later stating they felt cheated and were close to leaving.

However, Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp, in his usual ‘I’m a nice guy’ routine, suggested he had checked with Avram before making the move. He also stated he would be paying the full ‘market price’ for Younes Kaboul. This figure was later revealed as £8m, due to the issue that Pompey ironically still owed payments to Spurs from when they bought Kaboul first-time round.

The sale of Begovic has hit Portsmouth fans hard. He was the one bright spark in a dismal season. At such a young age, the Bosnian proved what a talented individual he was with a fine selection of displays this season, in the absence of ‘keeper David James.

In my view, he is going to be worth tens of millions in the future. Yet, Pompey being who they are, are set to get rid for little under £10m, or possibly £5m.

A current FIFA rule prevents Begovic from playing for Tottenham, if he were to join, due to the fact Begovic has played for Portsmouth and Ipswich this season, the ‘two clubs’ rule. Nevetheless, Tottenham plan to appeal and plead their case to FIFA, probably getting their way in the end.

Storrie then decided to play the ‘innocent character’, stating he was being left out of negotiations, when he had done ‘so many great deals for the club’. Yes Peter, Mullins, Williamson and Utaka spring to mind instantly.

The question I ask however is if he’s not controlling the finances of the club anymore, if he’s not involved in transfers, what is he doing?!

He’s earning near £2m per year as CEO who is now doing effectively nothing?!

Asked last night if he would quit, he suggested he wouldn’t. Cheers Peter.

If he loves the club so much, he would take a pay-cut and do his best to remove the current regime from the club.

To add extra insult to injury, Portsmouth players were failed to be paid on time, again, yet a PFA representative stated that players wouldn’t walk out and would carry on playing for the club.

Well, at least there is some decency left at the club, further boosted by the return of Jamie O’Hara, who fulfils his promise to help Pompey stay up this season after re-signing on loan this afternoon.

Moving on, I am sickened by the Premier League and the FA. Their attitude is appalling. Their regulation is a joke. Their fit-and-proper-owner test system is an utter piece of tosh. They should be ashamed.

And I only wish the Premier League collapses in the near future – that’s how infuriated I am with the fact that they’ve allowed two jokes of an owner to ruin this club – they are a mockery.

However…let’s not get into a rant.

Let’s savour the memories we have of Portsmouth Football Club, because as things stand, it might not be around for much longer.

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