In the past few years, no club has fallen harder than Portsmouth FC.

Once a steady, FA Cup-winning Premier League side, this husk of a team now sit just three points away from the abyss of non-League football.

With the club now fan-owned and a semblance of normality apparent, many believe that they can start looking upwards again.

But it is quite simply not that easy. Whilst from the outside, many will lazily point the finger at gross mismanagement and largesse, it is clear that a greater malaise is at rot, and this is something that is clearly gripping a great deal of clubs throughout the English football system.

Pompey, as the South Coast club are affectionately known by their dwindling fan base, were the home of English internationals such as Glen Johnson, David James and Jermain Defoe in 2010.

Yet, despite the ever-expanding list of star names, with wages to match, it is clear that the club's infrastructure just could not cope with the growing strain of supporting a club with such lofty ambitions, but such lowly means.

It is pertinent at the point to mention that Pompey's owners recently had to fork out £60,000 for essential maintenance on their home, Fratton Park. This ancient ground had become so dilapidated that it was at risk of being too unsafe to host League Two football.

This does beg the question that, during our halcyon days of success, where was the reinvestment into the club?

This club, with such a rich history and devoted set of supporters, had long papered over the cracks. Beyond the stadium, the club had never attempted to develop the training facilities, the lethargic youth system or to any great extent, the clubs commercial profile.

What is perhaps most baffling is that this club most definitely had money coming in- Lassana Diarra was signed for £5 million and sold for closer to £20m. Glen Johnson reportedly cost a mere £4m before Liverpool purchased him for over £18m.

Money was obviously spent on securing good players, but much of that was recouped in later sales. Again, it is clearly a lack of structure that allowed so much money to seep away - the club was always reliant on the deep pockets of its owners to stay alive.

Without that, it could not sustain itself. And eventually, the owners did fade away, piling debt upon the club and leaving it in chaos. The club did not develop its infrastructure in line with its growing profile, and it came to pay heavily for this.

It is worrying that there are still clubs in the Premier League who could fall prone to similar circumstances; Cardiff City's march into the Premier League has been bankrolled by the mad Vincent Tan, and the moment he loses interest, the club will be susceptible.

Middlesborough, once a steady Premier League club for around a decade, had the purse strings tightened by Steve Gibson, the owner, and subsequently could not afford the costs of staying in the Premier League.

Ever since, they have faded deeper into mid-table obscurity, but thankfully not oblivion. Much worse a fate awaits many clubs who rely on sugar daddies to fuel the good times. Clubs such as Swansea and Southampton are arguably the model to which clubs should aspire - both have risen from near extinction to taste great success - without risking failure and at the same time ensuring their facilities, stadium and finances are capable of carrying the burden of their success.

For Portsmouth, the Premier League is a dream unlikely to be achieved for a long time. But whilst they have this opportunity, mired in the depths of League Two, the chance comes to rebuild this club as it should have been the first time. Past mistakes should be learnt from. Only then will Portsmouth FC be back where they belong.

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Topics:
#League Two
#Portsmouth
#Football