Portsmouth’s early opening of their finance puase may have bought them mouthwatering success in 2008, but failed to helped them stay afloat as they plunged into administration and league two football.
There have been quite a number of teams who have went on to achieved success in their prime, but sadly fall from grace to grass. Pompey won’t be the first to have experience such a gigantic decline, Leeds United at some point before they claw their way back to the topflight, Deportivo La Corona one time Spanish Champions, and Parma who are now back in the Seria A.
With Pompey debts at one time estimated to stand at £135m, you just have to wonder how a team filled with decent and experience players winning the FA Cup in 2008 got themselves into such an unpleasant situation.Though the side from the Portsea are no longer in debt, two years ahead of their schedule with the Professional Footballer’s Association affirming all sums owed to it’s members have been met.
That said, having establish the fact that Pompey has settle their debt, back in League One with every of their match day performances in the league looking like they would soon claw their way back to the second tier of English football. “Championship”.
Let’s look at how Portsmouth got themselves into administration and thereby playing in the league two.
Portsmouth’s champions squad in 2008 including goal scorer Kanu, Lassana Diarra, Sulley Muntari, Sol Campbell, Jermain Defoe, Glen Johnson, and Peter Crouch did something great for the Fratton Park side that would forever ink their names in the history of the club.
For the club and their fans, their success in 2008 was the culmination of a decade long roller coaster ride from their administration in 1998, down to their takeover by Milan Mandaric in 1999. Apparently, the Serbian-American wasn’t a patient man as he want an instant success which cumulated into him changing manager under his leadership as Pompey struggling continues in the old Division One.
The Fratton Park side have entered administration not once, but twice since their resplendent day in 2008, when the club lifted the FA Cup for the second time since they last won it in 1939.
Though success is such a pleasant thing to taste, as such Pompey tasted success with their financial pause widely open but thereafter pay an heavy price in relegating to the fourth tier of English football for the first time since 1978.
Following Tony Pullis exit in the 2000-01 season due to the poor relationship with Mandaric, the club opted for the player manager Steve Claridge but sadly for the club the decision taken by the club was a disastrous one that got them languished in the bottom of Division One.
Portsmouth experienced a change of form thanks to change of management, which cumulated into Pompey survival thanks to a final day victory over Barnsley, but failing to triumph against Huddersfield. 2001-02 season brought about a new change in demands for Mandaric’s Pompey, in planning to break into the English top-flight with the appointment of Harry Redknapp.
Harry’s appointment proved to be a success for Portsmouth, as he went on to recruit the best players within the frame budget of the club with the mindset to also make profit. The veteran manager signed players like Robert Prosnecki who proved to be an inspired figure for the club, and Peter Crouch from Queens Park Ranger who scored 18 goals despite many not believing in him especially club Chairman Mandaric.
Having succeeded with the signing of decent players and making profit from their sells, triggered Mandaric’s desire in making Harry the manager that got him surrendered his position as Director of Football plus reducing his initial percentage on his previous contract as Director.
In the 2002-03 season, Mandaric grew impatient of lack of success for Portsmouth despite his investment into the club. However with Harry Redknapp still in town as the manager of the team in his first full season, his presence proved to be the catalyst that birthed the future success of the team with the signing of decent and experience players from Europe’s top-flight leagues.
Pompey finished the Division One league season with a massive 98 points and scoring 97 goals under Harry, fulfilling Mandaric’s craving of playing in the topflight. Their first season in the Premier League came with a respectable 13th place finish, with former Nigeria international Yakubu scoring 16 goals having signed permanently.
Portsmouth’s fortune started dwindling when Harry and club chairman had a boardroom bust up over the appointment of then Director of Football Velimir Zajec. As such Harry walked out on Pompey joining Southampton, as Portsmouth got relegated to the second tier.
Coincidentally after the sale of Portsmouth by Mandaric to Alaxandre Gaydamak the club brought back Harry having sacked Alan Perrin the man who replaced him when he first left. As Gaydamak reigns begun it’s was revealed that Mandaric had mismanaged the club’s finance that cumulated into them owing nearly £60m to various organizations.
Fortunately for Portsmouth the new sheriff in town was able to bankroll Harry’s transfer with the existing loans by bringing in nine players, including Pedro Mendes, record signing former Zimbabwe international Benjani Mwaruwari who helped the club from further relegation nightmare.
With the financial backing of Gaydamak, Harry further brought in David James, Sol Campbell, Andy Cole, Glen Johnson amongst other. The experience and winning mentality of all these players plus the managerial know how of Harry, Pompey finished in the top half of the table slightly missing the opportunity to play in Europe.
In 2008, legendary Nigeria forward who make 120 league appearances over five years and company went on to win the FA Cup for the Fratton Park side. After Pompey’s triumph in 2008, the stock market crashed and that began the decline of once the Champions of FA Cup winner that cumulated into their struggle.
Though the Fratton Park side are back in the league one since 2017 after five years in league two, now under the umbrella of Tornate Company, with Eisner leading the pack as Pompeys Chairman. It’s left to be seen if the impressive form of the South Coast side in the League One would see them back to the topflight at least the Championship for now? We could only wait.