Portsmouth’s sad plight: When will clubs learn?

Portsmouth’s rapid descension from 2008 FA Cup Winners to Premier League cellar-dwellers has culminated in them being placed into administration. They are now certain to be playing Championship football next season with an inevitable nine-point deduction heading their way. It has been reported that part of the club’s misfortunes have come from winning the FA Cup,  as many players are believed to have had bonuses of 250,000 pounds written into their contracts if they won the prestigious trophy.

The beginning of the end?
The beginning of the end?

But this alone was certainly not the cause of their recent demise. The offering of ridiculously high wages in an attempt to attract quality players to the club, such as Jermaine Defoe and Peter Crouch,  left them with little option but to sell their stars as the financial situation worsened.  After Portsmouth were unable to sell players in the transfer window that accompanied their cup success, manager Harry Redknapp was reluctantly allowed to join Tottenham.

A hoard of big names were then cashed in with Sulley Muntari disappearing to Inter Milan, Lassana Diarra being snapped up by Real Madrid, Defoe moving back to Tottenham and Crouch quickly following his strike partner. Further departures proceeded with Niko Kranjcar joining his former boss and colleagues at Tottenham and Glen Johnson going to Liverpool.

Early last year Everton boss David Moyes hit out at Portsmouth, labelling their transfer policies as a “danger to football.”

They bought players and gave them big wages…it upset the whole market. Now they are backing off and selling players because they paid them higher wages than maybe they should have.

But Portsmouth are not the first and certainly won’t be the last club to show little regard for the future. Who could forget the fall of Leeds?  The once-mighty club chased the short-term goal of finishing fourth in the league but finished fifth, meaning that they had no Champions League football. This led to massive player sales in an attempt to even the books, after loans had been taken out with the expectation that the team would qualify for the tournament.  Among those sold were Rio Ferdinand to Manchester United and Harry Kewell to Liverpool. The club now currently languishes in the third tier of English football, after going into administration in the Championship.

Leeds fans watch on as their team is relegated from the Championship
Leeds fans watch on as their team is relegated from the Championship

Other clubs who have been recently relegated and struggled with the drop in revenue include Southampton and Charlton. The former joined Leeds in League One this season after they found themselves 28 million pounds in debt and went into administration, although their transfer policies can hardly be compared to that of Portsmouth or Leeds. The latter were at one point last year faced with debts reportedly around 40 million pounds and have also been relegated to League One.

But is it really the so-called smaller club’s fault?  As everyone is aware, the traditional big-clubs such as Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United have spend millions on transfers and wages for decades. In attempting to bridge the financial gap, teams such as Portsmouth have inevitably overspent. The astronomical debts of the “big four” is another cause for concern, with the two most famous clubs of English football, Manchester United and Liverpool, facing uncertain futures.

It is every fan’s wish to see their club show ambition, but surely common sense must prevail. Mid-table security in arguably the toughest league in the world should be embraced by fans, but instead there are those who increase their expectations and are the first ones to abandon their club when trouble strikes. There are limitations for every club and those that try to exceed it will end up like Leeds and now Portsmouth.

More on Portsmouth’s and Leeds’ financial problems

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