Comment: League act - but where were they before for Pompey?

Luke Varney's move to Pompey on big wages was ratified by the Football League in just two days, despite the club coming out of a previous administration
Luke Varney's move to Pompey on big wages was ratified by the Football League in just two days, despite the club coming out of a previous administration

The Football League have acted. Those mighty men in power have laid down sanctions designed to ensure the long-term stability of Portsmouth Football Club.

To be heartily applauded, surely. Prevention of the club living beyond its means yet again is an absolute necessity.

Sadly it is too late, however. The defence barriers have been put up long after the flood became a trickle.

Putting aside the 10-point deduction inflicted at yesterday’s meeting, the remaining conditions are designed to safeguard rather than destroy.

In particular, a restriction on playing budgets, future borrowing and loan repayments for the next five seasons.

Draconian measures, maybe, especially when three years would have sufficed. The outcome would have been precisely the same – a club built on self-sustainability and not the financial whim of an owner.

It’s a method of control nonetheless which should, by all accounts, prevent yet another round of boom and bust which has become such an agonising feature at Fratton Park in recent times.

In the past, leveraged debt has clung limpet-like to the club. Even now it has refused to become unattached with neither the passing of time or administrations removing its influence.

Convers Sports Initiatives are the latest example, their purported injection of £10.5m during their short tenure instead lumped on Pompey’s debt they are now attempting to reduce.

Overall, secured creditors have ridden wave after wave of administration and, in Portpin’s case, the debt has increased by around £1.6m since they previously sold the club, largely through interest.

The fact the Football League will now monitor borrowing and repayments is an encouraging one.

The question is, however, were they not carrying out such measures before? We were certainly told they were – yet Pompey still finds itself in a mess.

Every transfer was scrutinised, every appointment ratified and, of course, CSI breezed through the Fit and Proper Person’s Test without so much as a querying look.

Luke Varney signed on the Wednesday, it was authorised on the Friday. Greg Halford signed on the Monday, it went through on the Thursday. It’s an indication of the stringent measures applied by the Football League.

Yet the owners they approved, with the budgets they approved, consisting of the wage levels they approved have ultimately taken a proud football club to the brink of going out of existence. Again.

Still, at least they are going to keep an eye on the situation to make sure the club doesn’t slump into its chair once more.

And we should all feel reassured at that. Shouldn’t we?