Thursday, February 4, 2010

Another Day Another Owner

Pompey now have their 4th owner of the season, which must be a premier league record. If you haven't already heard Hong Kong based businessman Balram Chainrai has taken over the club using a clause in a contract he made when loaning Ali Al Faraj money. Chainrai is not in it for the long term, and already looking for the 5th owner this season. As far as I can tell this is great news for the club. The transfer window just closed so there is no chance of a fire sale that would affect the team for the remainder of this season. Also with the club facing a windup order (essentially the end of the club altogether) hopefully the new owner will be able to pay off the debt enough to avoid the club being wound up. Also if the players are able to get paid, they may have a little optimism return to their lives. This is key to survival as right now they seem a lock for the drop as they are suffering from Newcastleitis, which is the condition of not caring about the play on the pitch.

Moving on, I think that the key thing is the search for the 5th owner of the season. This owner has the chance to easily build a strong relationship with the club and the fans. Add to the fact that the club could likely be acquired for a nominal fee plus covering the debt of about $125M makes buying a premier league team more affordable than most North American sports teams, hell it is only 3 times what the MLS wants as an expansion fee.

Let's have a look at what you get if you buy Portsmouth
1. 60M pounds in debt (perhaps 45M pounds after the transfer window)
2. A Soccer Specific Stadium, but in need of expansion or a rebuild
3. A quality manager in Avram Grant
4. The last place club in the premier league only 6 points from safety
5. One of the most loyal and dedicated fan bases in the sport
6. A Clean Slate

For me number 6 is key, if Pompey are relegated this year no one is going to blame the 5th owner, they are going to blame numbers 1-3. That means that owner number 5 will be a hero if this club stays up, getting all of the credit for that achievement and none of the blame if they go down. All the fans, players, and staff at the club are craving is some stability so if the owner brings that then they will be loved by the fans, which is key to running a successful club.

So who should be the 5th owner of Pompey? I think that it would be a perfect fit for MLSE to break into the premier league market. Avram Grant could be their Mo. I think it would be a good fit for everyone. I know that MLSE are far from perfect, but I challenge any of their critics to show how they would be worse than the gong show that Pompey fans, players, and staff have had to endure already this season.

1 comment:

Serie_AHH said...

You were right, I was surprised.

MLSE would definitely be able to keep Portsmouth afloat financially and would be a very cheap way for MLSE to get into the EPL.

The fans are the number one reason why the MLSE would be a success. MLSE are used to dealing with rapid fans that unconditionally love and support their team (Leafs).

Mediocrity in the league would be deemed as success. Portsmouth wouldn't have to ever win the EPL title or CL to appease the fans simply avoiding relegation would be enough. Some years you would finish better than others but as long as Pompey didn't go down I don't think the fans would be upset.

What is holding this back is that MLSE generally doesn’t like to gamble. There is no reason for them to believe that the debt throughout football world would not happen to them. MLSE is not interested in winning titles only making money. Owning an EPL team does not guarantee them this.

Spending $10m on the TFC franchise fee and $10m on a stadium (which they got back through the naming rights) is one thing. Dishing out 125m pounds plus money to upgrade the infrastructure isn't something that sounds appealing to MLSE. MLSE works well in the NA markets but throw in possible relegation and the reduced income that goes with it and MLSE says no thank you.

I do hope that someone comes along to save Pompey but I don't think they will be from Toronto.