Friday, 24 September 2010

Pompey's chimes hit a bum note

This morning the BBC reported Portsmouth's disgust at the failure of Genoa to pay over an instalment due to them following the £5m transfer of Kevin Prince Boateng last month. Although he was signed by Genoa, he hasn't actually played for them as he was subsequently loaned to AC Milan. The financial details of the Milan deal are not known, but what is apparent is that Genoa have yet to pay any monies to Portsmouth for the player who isn't actually playing for them.

According to Portsmouth's Administrator, Andrew Andronikou, the first instalment of the fee was due two weeks ago and when chased the overdue payment they were told 'sorry, we mistook your bank details'. "A week later, it doesn't look like the cheque has even hit the post." He went on to say that Pompey have had enough of Genoa's excuses.

Had enough of their excuses? I wonder what excuses Portsmouth were using to suppliers, players and other clubs, as their financial difficulties so publicly unravelled over the last 12 months? Now I am not condoning Genoa's behaviour. In any business you have a right to expect to be paid for your services in line with any written contractual agreement, however there will always be those who stretch their relationship with their creditors to their absolute limit. There can be no greater example of this than Portsmouth. Pot…kettle…black.

This is Portsmouth who, when the full extent of their debt was revealed to be double initial estimates, were found to owe other clubs £17.1m in transfer fees. A small portion of the £135m debt, but as much as they also owed HMRC, who will be collecting just a fifth of that in instalments over the next 5 years.

You could well say well, that was under the old management and that under Mr Andronikou's administration he has every right to chase monies rightfully owed to the football club, which will go some way to easing their ongoing difficulties. However, there are courses of action that should be taken to recover this money. Bleating to the press about it isn't one of them. Aside from Lens' claims regarding monies due for Dindane and Belhadj I don't recall many of the other clubs owed money by Portsmouth going public with their claims and in doing so now they are doing a dis-service to the club and their fans.

Football is an industry that seems to attract figures who are fond of the media attention, free with their quotes yet often end up with egg on their faces. I am reminded of former Sheffield Wednesday chairman Lee Strafford who, prior to their all-or nothing relegation decider against Crystal Palace, saw fit to criticise Palace for their financial mismanagement and the fact they had taken the easy option of administration. Yet it has since emerged that Wednesday are an insolvent trading business themselves, most probably at the time of the Palace match. Day to day operations have been funded from tax deductions that should have been paid over to HMRC and only a last minute bail-out by their (very) Co-Operative bankers staved off potential administration. He has since claimed that he was misled by fellow directors of the true state of the club's finances. This may be the case, but it does little for his credentials as a business leader if he couldn’t see what was actually happening.

In the circumstances Portsmouth might do well to keep their counsel and do things privately, via the English and Italian FAs and potentially UEFA. If that does not lead to the required outcome then they can bleat, because at that stage the system is broken, not their individual agreement. Until then………………..*silence*

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