In Family Guy:
Chris Griffin: Dad, was there ever a real city of New Orleans?”
Peter Griffin: “No one knows, Chris. No one knows.”
It is interesting to see anyone and everyone walk into Pompey, buy up the club, and walk out two days later. The revolving door has led to Pompey being dead last in the Premiership, player wages being delayed, and transfer fees that have yet to be paid two years later. The last infraction has led the EPL to impose a player registration embargo which means that Pompey will be unable to bring any new players on board.
The instability makes Alexander Gaydamak look like the rock of Gibraltar. Sulaiman Al Fahim’s ascension made Pompey fans giddy at the prospects of unlimited transfer funds with Al Fahim’s personal touch extending to Diego Maradona, rumoured to become brand ambassador for the club if he failed to lead Argentina into the World Cup. With all moneyed ownership, the club that could move precipitously up the Premiership ladder. But Pompey dissolved into a player firesale as Al Fahim essentially had no funds of his own.
Sean Davis, Sol Campbell, Lauren, all walked out free. Some money was made from the sale of Glen Johnson, Niko Kranjcar, and Peter Crouch but that money will have to go into paying of Arsenal for the Lassana Diarra transfer and Chelsea for the Glen Johnson move. The club in turn restocked with bargain basement transfers which bought some solid names but no one of the quality that they had lost. These players till the Ali al Faraj bought out 90% of Al Fahim’s stake were in danger of not being paid their wages for the second month running.
Whereas no one knows who quite owns Pompey, everyone knows Mike Ashley at Newcastle.
Both clubs fought till the last day to avoid relegation last season. Alan Shearer’s appointment was not enough to stave off relegation for Newcastle in the end. Pompey remained promoted while Newcastle headed down to the Championship. One of the preconditions for a successful climb back was the club’s takeover by outside investors. Newcastle became a constant rumour mill of takeovers. In the end Barry Moat, with the most promising bid failed to come up with the 80m required for the buyout with Ashley basically scuttling the deal.
In all that swirl, the one constant was Ashley, who has taken the club off the market. Even as he remains unpopular, his not going away has enabled stability. Chris Hughton was made manager on a permanent basis. A move that engendered little fan opposition because Hughton so far has delivered for Newcastle as they top the Championship. He’s made a porous defense watertight and they have only conceded nine goals in 14 matches this season. Ashley with these moves, proves that Newcastle is his club for better or worse. But lets face it he will never be classy; the latest Ashley indignation making the rounds is to try and rename St James Park. He is a known quantity. At Portsmouth, no one knows.