Pompey rue the stars who slipped through the net

Peter Ramage, Crystal Palace
Peter Ramage, Crystal Palace

Pompey continue to count the costs of long-standing mismanagement from its hierarchy.

Meanwhile, Michael Appleton and his first-team continue to bear the scars.

The Blues currently languish in the League One relegation zone following a run of five defeats in six matches.

Inevitably, fans are beginning to question the quality of the squad thrown together so swiftly.

But the ones who got away this summer make the most painful reading.

The likes of Billy Paynter, Iain Hume, Darren Ward and Peter Ramage were just some lined-up for Fratton Park deals.

In addition, a goalscorer in Swindon’s recent 2-1 victory over the Blues – Andy Williams – had also been on the radar.

The ongoing financial restrictions and the club’s uncertainty left them all seeking to pursue their careers elsewhere.

Those playing personnel still at Pompey unquestionably possess the ability to start climbing their way up the league table.

But for head of recruitment Luke Dowling, it has been a frustrating time.

He said: ‘We are a sellable club for players because we are Portsmouth with great fans.

‘This summer we had Billy Paynter’s agent on the phone and there was a lot of interest from the boy. He wanted to come.

‘Doncaster offered a two-year contract and we offered a month.

‘You live in Leeds, so what are you going to do? It was a no-brainer for him.

‘If it wasn’t a month-to-month contract, though, then he would have been here.

‘We also wanted to take a boy from up north who has played in the Championship and would be great in this league.

‘He was prepared to come here, it was sorted with his club – wages and everything.

‘However, he wanted to bring his wife and two kids down with him but couldn’t a month at a time.

‘Iain Hume was another one of them, he had agreed to come – and instead went to Doncaster.

‘Peter Ramage was all done and everything agreed, I think he was quite excited about the thought of coming here. He is now at Palace.

‘Darren Ward was another lined-up to come here.

‘The boy Andy Williams was also on the radar. He was over the moon Pompey had an interest in him but in the end joined Swindon in late July.

‘There are several who have re-signed contracts at their clubs in the Championship despite being potentially squad players. They were initially willing to come here, though.

‘We are where we are, we have got to move on and forget that but it shows how difficult it has been.’

Not that Dowling is blaming everything on the club’s precarious situation.

He fully realises they must also live within their means.

He added: ‘Even if we’d been in a stable position, some have still gone elsewhere and got stupid money.

‘It’s not like we have lost out just because the state of the club, we have lost out on players because, regardless, some have got better money.

‘We have just been more in a situation where we cannot give them the security they want rather than wages.’