Portsmouth FC Nears Financial Insolvency as Club Asks Players to Defer Wages

Josh MartinNBA Lead WriterFebruary 22, 2012

PORTSMOUTH, ENGLAND - JANUARY 14: A general view of Fratton Park prior to the npower Championship match between Portsmouth and West Ham United at Fratton Park on January 14, 2012 in Portsmouth, England. (Photo by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images)
Ben Hoskins/Getty Images

After struggling for years to stay afloat financially, Portsmouth may finally (and unfortunately) have reached the bitter end.

According to Rob Harris of the Associated Press, club officials have asked Pompey players to defer their wages amidst yet another cash crisis:

BREAKING: Portsmouth players asked to defer wages. Club could run out of cash in 2 months & "serious risk" to its survival

— Rob Harris (@RobHarrisUK) February 22, 2012

This once proud club, founded in 1898 and winners of two First Division titles and two FA Cup competitions since, may soon be so far under water that it will have to dissolve entirely.

Just four years ago, Portsmouth was a power player in English football, winner of the FA Cup in 2008 under the auspices of current Tottenham Hotspur manager (and likely future Three Lions boss) Harry Redknapp.

Since before then, though, Pompey have been fraught with scandal and abuse as ownership of the club changed hands with alarming frequency. The club went into financial administration in December of 1998 before coming under the control of Milan Mandaric, Redknapp's alleged accomplice in his recent corruption case.

Rapid investment yielded some positive results for Pompey thereafter, but once ownership shifted from Alexandre Gaydamak to United Arab Emirates businessman Sulaiman Al Fahim in May of 2009, the financial failures at the club's foundation were already out of hand.

Another series of ill-fated ownership transfers, botched decisions by management and the sloughing off of top-flight salaries left Pompey destitute and out of the English Premier League, mired in further scandal.

Today, Portsmouth sits in the relegation zone, destined for Football League 1 if it isn't blown up first. Vladimir Antonov, the club's most recent owner, is at fault after being arrested in connection with a banking scandal in Lithuania.

A sad day, indeed, for Portsmouth supporters, who might soon be left to sing the Pompey Chimes only to themselves, much as Southampton will have nothing but an intrasquad scrimmage to show for the South Coast derby.