One of the first rules of business is never to spend more than you can accrue. Never let your expenditure outweigh your income. It is a lesson that is learnt by thousands of companies each and every year. They get ahead of themselves, speculate on something pulling off and then write the cheques thinking the pending income will cover it. It seldom works.
In the business world, Portsmouth would be toxic. They wouldn't have a credit rating and long before now, they'd be wound up. It wouldn't make business sense to keep afloat a business that is in £60 Million in debt. A business though is what Portsmouth should be treated as. They should be no different to any other.
Except they are. They are a football club, and in the rules of business, football clubs rarely have to adhere to them. The sentimentality's of the fans and the sympathy for the employees are the aspect which makes dealing with them different, but sometimes the harshest lessons are the ones that stick.
Portsmouth are a classic example of a company not keeping their house in order. They got promoted into the Premiership and went about buying players that would skip the process of consolidation and aimed to challenge for honours. Which is fine, I am not shooting down ambition. But Portsmouth bought these players and put them on expensive contracts. Portsmouth bought into the ambitions and chased them blind without looking at the books.
When they lifted the F.A Cup, Portsmouth were a team seemingly on the up, going places. Those expensive contracts though caught up with them. When it came to the tax bill, fobbing the tax man off was the easiest way.
Ron Noades, the former Brentford Chairman said that fobbing the tax man off was the easiest thing to do because "it was better to buy Johnny Foreigner than pay the tax bill."
It never works. The Tax man will always catch up with you.
This wasn't the last of the problems for Portsmouth. With debt spiralling, Pompey tried to spend their way out of it. That didn't work either, because with Portsmouth being a business, it never does.
The simple and plain truths are, Portsmouth did not act responsibly with their newly found wealth and they didn't follow any business model, let alone an effective one. It should be of no surprise that they are now on the brink of oblivion.
Of course, being football, we have twists and turns with any story and this season we have seen four different owners. None of these have been willing or able to service the debt or save the club. This weeks owner, Balram Chanrai has invested £17 Million over the last year, but this is essentially putting a plaster on a bullet wound. We have former owner Sacha Gaydamak being owed a reputed £9 Million with no sign of getting it back. Sol Campbell is looking for his money, and several clubs dotted around the continent are wanting the money that is owed to them. Portsmouth have dug a hole which is impossible to get out of.
As I mentioned earlier, as a business, Portsmouth are not worthy of anybodies sympathy. As a football club, I want the supporters of Portsmouth to get what they deserve, a football club who operate within their means. Yet it is impossible for Portsmouth to blame anybody but themselves. For this, sympathy is completely out of the question.