Joe Strange - Portsmouth deserved their fairytale
Published: 12 Apr 2010 - 08:50:00
Has there ever been a more enthralling, dramatic and controversial footballing story than that of Portsmouth football club this season?
The latest instalment of their very own south coast soap opera gave us the despair of relegation and the unbridled joy of reaching the FA Cup final - all in the space of just 24 hours.
It's an eventuality which most of us would normally find unbelievable, but in many ways Pompey's 2-0 extra-time victory over Tottenham yesterday evening seemed to have an air of inevitability about it.
After all, should any of us be surprised after everything that's gone on at Fratton Park over the last nine months or so?
Off the pitch we've seen unpaid players, tax bills and transfer fees, managerial changes, key players sold, administration, a point deduction, new owners and more new owners.
And on the pitch things haven't been much better. Even without the nine point deduction they would still be languishing bottom of the Premier League, eight points from safety.
Just why a club's financial misery needs to be compounded with a point deduction is beyond me.
Clubs don't try to get their finances in a mess like Pompey have, it's simply a by-product of spending beyond their means in the pursuit of domestic and European success.
The FA may argue that the law is in place as a deterrent for clubs, a way of forcing them into responsible spending and sensible boardroom management - but it clearly isn't working.
Championship side Crystal Palace and League One Southampton have also experienced point deductions this season, while the likes of Leeds United and Rotherham have also seen their points tallies negatively affected due to poor finances.
Add in the huge debts of some of England's biggest clubs, Manchester United and Liverpool being the two most obvious examples, and the state of football finance in this country has never been in a more precarious state.
What the FA haven't taken into account with their ridiculous administration rules are those who spend their hard-earned cash to follow their clubs the length and breadth of the country every week.
While Portsmouth's nine point deduction undoubtedly affects those responsible for their poor financial state, why should the fans have to suffer?
Unsurprisingly attendances at Fratton Park have dropped this season - a result of poor performances, the points deduction and fans not being willing to hand over anymore money to those who don't seem to know what to do with it.
But sometimes out of adversity comes strength.
Relegated to the Championship by virtue of West Ham's 1-0 win over Sunderland, Avram Grant's decimated squad somehow pulled off the seemingly impossible at Wembley yesterday evening.
Champions League chasing Spurs might have had some dodgy refereeing decisions go against them during 120 minutes of thrilling semi-final action but take nothing away from Pompey - they were magnificent.
Roared on by a sea of blue, captain David James led his side to a well-deserved victory, setting up a mouth-watering final with Grant's former club Chelsea.
In a season fraught with so much turmoil off the pitch, reaching the FA Cup final is well-deserved reward for the club's fantastic supporters - and they are sure to enjoy their day out, even if they do lose out to overwhelming favourites Chelsea.
But after the rollercoaster ride of a season they've had so far, don't put it past Portsmouth to provide us and their fans with one final shock - a fairytale FA Cup win.
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- A product of Brighton University's prolific youth system, Joe Strange has boundless energy and the enviable ability to cover every blade of grass in his Monday blog. Joe has written for a variety of football websites and fanzines and is also a regular contributor to golf.co.uk. Despite being born and raised in Kent, 'Stranger' is a diehard Everton fan and counts his team's penalty shoot-out victory against Manchester United last season as his most memorable football moment. Follow Joe on Twitter @joe_strange.
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