Could the Russian Premier League Hold the Key to Portsmouth's Future?

Sergey ZikovSenior Analyst IFebruary 20, 2010

PORTSMOUTH, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 19:  Nadir Belhadj of Portsmouth in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Portsmouth and Liverpool at Fratton Park on December 19, 2009 in Portsmouth, England.  (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

I'm not letting any jungle cat out of the bag here. Portsmouth is in a major predicament and are running out of time to fix it.

According to the English Premier League, the club will not be granted special permission to sell players after the winter transfer window has already closed. This is horrible news for the already troubled south coast bunch.

Now, Portsmouth has until March 1st to pay off over £4 million. However, that monthly debt isn't the end of the story, as a much larger number has been reported as their total debt. As the club stares into the abyss, a miracle is needed in the next week.

Clubs of the Russian Premier League could provide that miracle.

While the English winter transfer window may be closed, it is still wide open in Russia until the end of the month. It was the only reason why Andrei Arshavin was permitted to join Arsenal last February even though the English transfer period had finished.

Not only could wealthy Russian clubs pay Portsmouth's monthly debt with a few transfers, they could also provide an excellent new home for players. Several Portsmouth players, like Algerian international Nadir Belhadj, are more than concerned about their potential playing time before the World Cup if they were to leave the club.

Inspired Champions League clubs like Rubin Kazan or Zenit St. Petersburg would be able to fit any of Portsmouth's internationals into their starting XI with little problem.

Would it be a permanent solution? Probably not. Most established players in England would have no interest staying in Russia.

But would it be a win-win situation for all parties involved? Absolutely.

Portsmouth would get the money needed to pay off their debts, or at least a part of it. Their outbound players would still be able to find consistent playing time, or even an improvement if they are heading to a Champions League squad. The RPL would also be adding more skill to the rapidly improving league.

While this all sounds terrific on paper, it might not work out as planned. Club executive Peter Storrie, who knows his club can not sell within the EPL, has been working around the clock to pull off a takeover. However, finding more new owners is no simple task, and will push the club to its breaking point.

I don't know who Portsmouth exactly would be willing to sell.

For example, the forementioned Belhadj would be a perfect fit at left back for Luciano Spalletti's Zenit squad, who currently has no definitive starter at the position.

Defender Tal Ben-Haim would be nearly ideal for Rubin's brick wall backline at right back. Manager Kurban Berdiyev has been riding a carousel for the better part of the last year, attempting to find a true starter on the right wing. Ben-Haim deserves to play Champions League football, and Rubin would give it to him on a platter.

Not to mention that Rubin is also in the market for another Israeli player in the form of Hapoel Tel Aviv youngster Bebars Nathko.

So, Mr. Storrie, you might be getting an unexpected phone call in the next few days. I'd highly recommend that you answer it. It might just save the future of your club.