Friday, 25 November 2011

An Arrest and little Development

An arrest...

Another Pompey owner subject to an arrest warrant. Joining Mandaric and Gaydamak in an incredible series of events. It seems simply that the club is rotten to the core. How surprised should we be? Why would any law abiding citizen want to own the money drain of a football club? The motivations of these random foreign owners always strikes me as peculiar and if they are not going to court publicity, like Milan to boost their egos, what do quiet owners, like ours, get out of the money they put in?

I am no financial journalist, but the the best explanation of the current situation I have seen was written by SJMaskell and can be found here. He tells the tale of financial irregularity and assassination attempt against Antonov and his family by Chechen mafia. Antonov is Pompey chairman – he owns 75% of PFC. Dubov has made the only comment to UK media with a throw away line of working hard to save the business, although he did not specify whether or not he was talking about CSI. Whether or not Antonov is guilty, PFC and our reputation could do without this. I have written previously about how we are seen by some to have got away lightly with our first bout of overspending – and the club must now be in serious peril again, if 75% of our funding is with a man who is on bail, and who the BBC are reporting has had his assets frozen.

Two points to make, about the naivety of Pompey fans (absolutely myself included) and the attitude of the FA to ownership.

The information about Antonov detailed by Maskell amongst others has been in the public domain since they took control. I remember reading about it, but I shrugged my shoulders, a lot of business men have dubious backgrounds, especially seemingly ones from the former Eastern bloc, who want to sink money into provincial english football clubs that they have few links to – as long as they were going to support our club I didnt mind. There is another article to be written about fans proactivity in ownership of their own clubs and the Pompey Trust have been savvy enough on twitter to attempt to boost their numbers after this latest bout of scandal. I have not yet joined but will research the trust before deciding whether this is a genuine attempt to represent fans or a bit of an old boys network, a small group hoping to take my money to increase their own self-importance

Additionally the football league and its Fit and Proper persons test needs to be re-examined and after our recent series of owners this should not come as a shock to anyone. As I understand the rule (mainly from this Edinburgh University Law school article) Antonov was rightly approved, he was not prohibited by law to be a director of a company, he was not involved in another football club, he did not have any unspent criminal convictions, he was not bankrupt and he has not previously been involved in two football clubs involved in administrations. However he was deemed unfit to run a British bank, his takeover of Saab was disrupted by his reputed links to serious and organised crime, but he is allowed to control a football club, which we all hope is a symbol of our community and home. Surely the test needs to be reassessed.

Pompey fans have themselves to blame. The football league has itself to blame. We blithely accept these white knights – the only solution seems to be fan ownership – but Pompey do not have a large enough, rich enough support to keep the club at the competitive level the fans have come to accept.

And little development

Pompey have made two loan signings, but lost one and I fear at a net loss. George Thorne a 6ft 2 attacking midfielder, England under 18, 17, 16s etc, WBA youngest first team player since the 60s has promise (albeit for two minutes), but he comes in as Abdul Razak returns to Man City – very difficult for us to compare the two – but using the arbitrary measure of where they have ended up, I would rather have a loan player from City than the Baggies. Additionally Joe Mattock has joined, a young player who royally pissed off Leicester fans in the way he manufactured his departure from the foxes (could be interesting if he plays on Saturday) who avoided jailtime after being convicted of punching four people (including a women) in a night club, aged 18. We need a left-back, but more than that we needed a striker, Marc Antone-Fortune was heavily linked, but moved instead to the Willy McCay experiment at Doncaster. So at the end of the loan window we have probably lost something in midfield, gained a defender and missed out on a striker. However WBA twitterer AnthonyDosanjh was very positive about both and claimed Thorne was on the cusp of a WBA starting place, whilst Mattock was performing well before an injury, so maybe not all hope is lost. All in all the club needs good results and soon, if the Watford performance is repeated and with a seemingly unwinnable south coast derby approaching, I think we are right to be worried, here is hoping the home form continues. Play up Pompey.

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