Joe Strange - Soap opera on the south coast

By 15 February 2010 09:11

Anyone who's kept an eye on the goings on at Portsmouth this week might be forgiven for thinking that the best writers from Coronation Street, Eastenders and Hollyoaks are on the payroll at Fratton Park.

A week consisting of a crushing defeat, own goals, late equalisers, sendings-off, High Court hearings and a derby victory has helped propel the south coast soap opera to the top of the ratings - in terms of entertainment at least.

Nobody likes to see a football club in the financial situation Portsmouth currently find themselves in, even fans of their arch rivals Southampton might have some sympathy after watching their own club placed into administration last year.

But as awful a situation as it is, there can be no denying that Pompey this season, and particular over the last week, have been fantastic viewing - both on and off the pitch.

Obviously their on-field performances have left a lot to be desired but a scrappy 1-0 away win over Wolves after seven consecutive defeats from the opening seven league games, a home victory over Liverpool and a good run in the FA Cup are just some of the instances when the board room drama has been transmitted to Saturday afternoons.

Off the pitch we've seen unpaid players, tax bills and transfer fees, managerial changes, key players sold, new owners and more new owners.

All in all it's a bit of a mess - and that's being very kind indeed. How and why the owners, both past and present, let things develop to the point where the club is at risk of going out of existence is anyone's guess.

Their problems haven't just appeared overnight. It must have taken a good few years of uncontrollable wage bills, dodgy transfer dealings and other financial misgivings to reach this point.

Writing this now, I feel myself getting frustrated at the abysmal way in which the club has been run in recent times - and I don't even support Pompey.

Yes it is difficult for clubs outside the top four to make a profit with no Champions League revenue to boost the coffers but there is no way any top flight clubs should be on the brink of going out of business, let alone one which lifted the FA Cup the season before last.

Thinking about it now, the last week has almost been a microcosm of Portsmouth's last couple of seasons. First came a crushing 5-0 defeat against Manchester United last Saturday, a game which saw Pompey score an impressive three own goals - a parallel of the many mistakes made by the owners and board members of the last two years.

Then a 96th-minute equaliser from Aruna Dindane snatched a much-needed point at home to Sunderland on Tuesday evening - a continuation of the unwanted drama which has plagued the club since Harry Redknapp's departure last season.

Wednesday brought a high court hearing over an unpaid VAT bill of £7.4 million. The court gave Pompey a stay of execution after adjourning the winding-up order until this week - a situation with similarities to their current league position which sees them languishing at the bottom of the Premier League table six points from safety, relegation looking inevitable.

But then Saturday lunchtime came along and a 4-1 away win over fierce local rivals Southampton in the FA Cup fifth round, cue scenes of delirium among Pompey fans - a throwback to their triumph over Cardiff in the competition's final in 2008.

If the football scriptwriters continue to have their way with Portsmouth's very own soap opera you can be sure there will be plenty of twists and turns right up until the end of the season. Let's just hope someone doesn't decide to kill them off once and for all…


Source: DSG

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