Portsmouth Balancing the Books: Tony Adams Transfer Window Brief?
As football fans we always want more don’t we? If Pompey hijacked the Kaka deal, and then swooped for Drogba, we’d be gobsmacked and overjoyed. But chances are a week later we’d be saying ‘If only we had a good wide man to get the ball in’, and be suggesting possible targets.
My question is, in Pompey’s current situation with Fratton Park and it’s modest capacity, and even more modest facilities, should we keep pushing the boundaries or are we right to take a step back and put ourselves on an even keel financially?
I think Portsmouth’s success since Harry Redknapp arrived was largely down to a large slice of good fortune because at that time Milan Mandaric was here, and looking to put some money into the club.
Then the football league went into turmoil as ITV Digital failed and pulled the rug out from under the Football League clubs, who were depending on the sponsorship. While most clubs were looking to cut the wage bill, Mandaric was prepared to take a punt on Harry, and pick up the wage bill.
Harry’s acquisitions at that time didn't involve big money, at least not by today’s standards, but I guess that’s the point. At that time they didn’t need to be, and in Harry (love him or loathe him), we had just about the best wheeler dealer the game has seen.
So the dream started, Harry Redknapp, Merson, Todorov and Co went and took the Championship by storm. Many Pompey fans must have thought that was it – surely this is as good as it gets?
But no, Harry convinced first Mandaric, and then Gaydamak to continue funding the adventure, and over the years in came the likes of Sheringham, James, Campbell, Johnson, Muntari, Diarra, Defoe and Crouch.
It’s almost unbelievable to consider the progression, when you look at the team that was in place pre-Harry Redknapp, that was scrapping at the foot of the second tier.
However, the outlay in transfers and more importantly wages represents a big risk for Pompey. Sacha has many business interests, and a lot of money tied up in various investments, the current economic situation must be pretty painful for him. Pompey are spending pretty close to 100% of their total revenue on wages, something that can’t be sustainable.
So – is the risk worth it to date? – you bet. After all, when Sol Campbell went up to lift the FA Cup – we were there! But can it carry on – do we push on? Is it right for us as fans to want more, or should we accept a reality check?
Personally, I’m up for the reality check, as long as it is just that, and doesn’t descend into an asset stripping exercise.
If I were in Sacha’s shoes, my brief to Tony Adams would be this. 'Tony I’m going to sell a couple of players, I’ve got to get this wage bill under control, who should it be, who doesn’t fit with your thinking?' (Hopefully we did that with Diarra and Defoe)
Then - 'here you go, you can spend £5m an commit us to £40k a week in wages, but I want it to be your team now and your job is to keep us in the Premier League.'
If that’s the brief, then I reckon so far Adams is ticking the boxes. We had a bit of a wobble early on whilst the transfer talk got a little out of hand, but the club and manager are now making better noises, and the team is looking a bit more solid again.
So is this the right way to go? In my opinion, yes – I’d rather us get realistic until the new ground arrives, rather than see the owner trying to sell on a club, looking for a buying who can pick up hefty debts before they start.
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