Portsmouth FC: FA Cup Final the End of the Road for Avram Grant's Men?

Ed WymanCorrespondent IMay 18, 2010

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 15:  Nadir Belhadj and Ricardo Rocha (R) of Portsmouth look dejected at the end of the FA Cup sponsored by E.ON Final match between Chelsea and Portsmouth at Wembley Stadium on May 15, 2010 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Clive Mason/Getty Images


Having been a Portsmouth FC fan my whole life, I have seen a fair amount.

What was, until eight years ago, a regional team struggling for Championship survival, became a Premier League team capable of challenging for a place in the Europa League. 2008 saw Portsmouth win the FA Cup for the first time since 1939, no mean feat for a team that just 10 years previously had been unable to celebrate their 100th anniversary because of an administration.

Pompey had some great players, including Lassana Diarra, now at Real Madrid, and Sulley Muntari, now at Inter Milan. This shows that Portsmouth were on the verge of the "big-time."

However, as you will no doubt know, that is no longer the case.

Whilst the team was having success not seen since the 1950s, serious financial mismanagement meant that Portsmouth were a leaky ship. In October 2008, Harry Redknapp left Pompey for the second time, in order to take over at Tottenham. He cited serious financial issues as a reason for his departure.

Whilst Pompey denied this, it soon became obvious that 'Arry was right on target. The sale of players began in January with Jermain Defoe and Diarra both leaving. Portsmouth had two more managers after Redknapp that season, and just about avoided relegation.

Matters got worse over the summer with more and more of the financial monsters leaping out of the closet. There seemed to be hope when an Arab businessman named Sulaiman Al-Fahim took over the club. However, it turned out that he had no money.

The same could be said of his successor, Ali-Al-Faraj who succeeded Fahim later in the 2009-2010 season. A Hong Kong based business man, Balram Chainrai, took over after Faraj defaulted on a debt. Soon, the club was in administration with £60 million debts.

Players were being paid late and administration loomed. Sure enough, administration came, along with the nine-point deduction that condemned Pompey to relegation.

Despite the club crumbling around them, the players and Avram Grant, the manager, soldiered on and took Pompey to the FA Cup final, beating Harry Redknapp's Tottenham Hotspurs to do so. Portsmouth fought valiantly at Wembley, staying in contention, thanks to last-gasp defending, but eventually succumbed 1-0 to new Premier League champions, Chelsea. 

For all any of us know, the FA Cup final could've been the last Portsmouth match ever.

There is no new buyer, debts are said to be rising, and a mass exodus of players is expected, potentially leaving Portsmouth with nothing but a team of academy players.

So, whose fault is it? Alexander Gaydamak, who supplied Pompey with money they didn't have, the Premier League for not stopping it sooner, or a football system which makes players multi-millionaires?

Everyone has an opinion, but the reality is that it is all three.

There will no doubt be punishment for some of those who have hospitalised a football club at the heart of a community, but not all. The message many are preaching is that it will happen again if the business doesn't change. 

It could be too late for Pompey, but maybe others can be saved if they look at Pompey, and learn from the horrendous mistakes that have been made.

Will the club survive? Who knows?

Could Pompey be on a direct path to non-league football? It is anyone's guess, but therein lies the worst part of the whole situation—the uncertainty.

Nobody knows whether Pompey will line up at the start of next year’s Championship. That means there are people who don't know if they have jobs anymore, people who don't know if they will ever get their money back, and people who don't know if they will have a club to support.