Pattern emerges in Pompey exodus
FOOTBALL’S summer transfer window will shut at 5pm tomorrow.
Portsmouth will be one Premier League club especially glad of this.
The south coast club entered January’s transfer window with a squad of players fresh from lifting the FA Cup the previous season.
Since then, though, one-by-one their best players have departed.
Portsmouth have been struck down by debts caused by wage bills and transfer fees that were beyond their means.
This is the same fate that hit Leeds United – big players signed for big fees on big wages.
Portsmouth, with the smallest Premier League ground, had little hope of covering these costs from their income alone, so were reliant upon wealthy foreign owners.
After Roman Abramovic bought Chelsea and made them the Premier League’s big spenders, Portsmouth jumped aboard the Russian owner bandwagon when Alexandre Gaydamak bought the club.
Gaydamak funded some big-money transfers, such as Jermaine Defoe for £8million and Peter Crouch for £11m, but Portsmouth soon discovered his pockets were not as deep as Abramovich’s.
Entering the January transfer window Portsmouth’s best player was French midfielder Lassana Diarra.
With debts beginning to mount Diarra was sold to Real Madrid.
This made Defoe the club’s top player and consequently he soon left for his old club Tottenham Hotspur.
Portsmouth managed to exit the January window with the rest of their squad intact and with Paul Hart at the helm avoided relegation, but their financial problems remained.
Following Diarra and Defoe’s departures, Glen Johnson became top dog at the club.
With a pattern emerging, Johnson was soon on his way to Liverpool, leaving Crouch as Portsmouth’s crown jewel.
Crouch was then snapped up by former Pompey boss Harry Redknapp, reuniting him and Defoe at Tottenham.
Portsmouth fans were hoping this would mark an end to the exodus, but the pattern continued and new number one Sylvain Distin was sold to Everton on Friday.
Some better news did arrive last week, though, as finally the club’s immediate future was secured by bringing a new owner on board.
Now the fashion for Russian owners has passed and Manchester City are the Premier League’s new big spenders, thanks to their Middle Eastern benefactors, so it was to Abu Dhabi that Portsmouth likewise turned.
President of the UAE Chess Ferderation Sulaiman Al-Fahim first attempted to buy the club earlier in the summer, but the deal initially fell through when he could not stump up the cash.
Although he has no managed to scrap around for the necessary bones, he is no Mansour bin Zayed Al-Nahyan and Portsmouth are still worrying about keeping the best players.
Goalkeeper David James is now the man rival clubs are sniffing around.
Tottenham have been linked with signing England’s number one and Portsmouth will be hoping they can finally break the chain, as Niko Kranjcar would be next in line to follow.
Al-Fahim’s arrival has meant some of the big-name stars have been replaced, but with the calibre of the players brought in it is like throwing out filet mignon to eat a Pot Noodle instead.