Portsmouth: Premier League to League 2
Portsmouth FC's rapid decline down the football pyramid has touched the hearts of thousands
The story of Portsmouth FC is a reminder to us all about how quickly things can change in football.
It is a story about a club that have gone from playing under the bright lights of the Premier League to fighting for survival in League Two - the lowest division in the Football League. Their demise is undoubtedly due to the poor financial state of the club.
In 2008, the club celebrated winning the FA Cup for the second time in their history by beating teams such as Manchester United and West Bromwich Albion on their way to the final, where they beat Cardiff City 1-0 at Wembley Stadium.
The victory came thanks to a single goal from Kanu. The same season, Pompey managed a mid-table 14th placed finish in the Premier League.
The following season, things were very different. Portsmouth's league form dropped significantly and they found themselves in the relegation zone going into the last few months of the season.
Manager Harry Redknapp resigned, leaving his assistant Tony Adams to try and regain control of a sinking ship, something that he was unable to do. Adams was sacked to be replaced by Paul Hart, youth team coach, and assistant Brain Kidd. Hart helped to guarantee the Premier League survival of the club.
On the 10th April 2010, Portsmouth were relegated to the Championship after a poor season in the Premier League seeing them win only six games. This is when their troubles really started to become evident.
The club were forced to sell all big name players to try and raise some income to keep the club afloat. Throughout the 2009/10 season players were not paid on two separate occasions, which meant that they had the option to terminate their contracts.
Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs filed a winding-up order against the club in 2009, only for it to be dropped a year later. It was announced in 2010 that Portsmouth FC were in £135m of debt.
Steve Cotterill was placed in charge for the 2010/2011 Championship season. After a very poor start, the Fratton Park-based outfit found themselves bottom of the league by September.
A run of seven games unbeaten, however, lifted their position in the league to mid-table by the end of October. Steve Cotterill was even nominated for a Manager of the Month Award whilst Liam Lawrence was nominated for Player of the Month after scoring seven goals.
This form did not last and by January of 2011, they found themselves struggling in 18th place. Player contracts started to become an issue as they had triggered clauses, which entitled them to higher wages, so players such as Michael Brown were sold to try and keep the wage bill down.
Another seven game unbeaten run ensued with Portsmouth gaining seventeen points from twenty-one available. Pompey also secured a 1-0 win over promotion favourites Leicester City. David Nugent, who went on to join The Foxes, scored the winner.
Pompey were deducted ten points after entering administration again. Sources inside the club have said it was thought they wouldn't be able to make it to the end of the season. On 21st April, Portsmouth's relegation was confirmed after a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Derby County.
As if being relegated wasn't bad enough, what was to follow was even worse. It was announced that the entire roster of playing staff were to leave the club with immediate effect.
To deepen their sorrows, manager Michael Appleton also left the club to join Blackpool mid-way through the season. Portsmouth were forced to play with young players - most not even out of there teens. An unbelievable run of twenty-three games without a win saw Pompey, a side full of youths that had never played professionally before, relegated in early April.
In the 2013/14 season, Portsmouth FC will try and avoid the abyss of non-league football by doing everything they can to try and secure their safety in the lowest tier of the Football League. The club will need to find some stability if they stand any chance of climbing back the divisions to where they once were.
Portsmouth are now owned by the Supporters' Trust, so the fans will be able to have their say as to which direction their club goes in. They have also recently signed their first full-time player since relegation from the Championship. Whilst all other players where on month-to-month contracts, Patrick Agyemang signed a two-year deal.
The story of Portsmouth FC is one that has touched the heart and soul of fans all around the country. Even some of their fiercest rival supports wouldn't want Portsmouth to die. The supports of Portsmouth deserve endless amounts of credit for stick by their team through thick and thin.
Their situation brings football into perspective, and fans up and down the country wish Pompey all the best in the future as they are too big a club to lose from the top divisions of English football.
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