After an FA Cup triumph in 2008, a European run in 2009 and a second visit to Wembley in 2010, it was always inevitable that life on the South Coast would eventually decline, however many Pompey fans could never even have imagined such a dramatic fall for our great club.
Five and a half years on from that momentous day out in North-West London, Portsmouth sit seven places off the foot of the League Two table, without both a manager and any points from the previous four games; how times have changed from the club which once lead AC Milan by two goals to nil.
The last few seasons have proved tough for the Blues and almost cost them a place in the Football League following several periods in and out of administration. Various visits to the courts, many new owners and numerous docked points were the price that had to be paid if Portsmouth Football Club wished to survive.
The upheaval really began after a return to administration towards the end of 2011 and in the February of 2012, the club was issued a winding-up petition by HMRC for over £1.6million in unpaid taxes. On top of this, the monthly wages of players weren’t getting paid and there were further reports of debt reaching £58million, consequently resulting in administrator Trevor Birch claiming that Portsmouth would struggle “to make the end of the season”.
After relegation from the Championship in 2012, almost the entire senior squad left since the club could simply not afford their wages. Ten points were taken from Portsmouth, placing them at the bottom of League One and, with manager Michael Appleton leaving for Blackpool in November, fans believed that things would, surely, only improve. They were wrong; the South Coast side went 23 games without a win, a run which lasted from the October of 2012 through to March the following year, and a second successive relegation looked to be on the cards.
Despite finally exiting administration in April, and the Pompey Supporters Trust taking over, more players left and the club saw one of its darkest times in decades. Nevertheless, Guy Whittingham was appointed as manager, a new kit deal with sports manufacturers ‘Sondico’ was reached and the Blues were able to hang on to young talent such as Jed Wallace and Jack Maloney.
A fresh start was exactly what was needed and over 12,000 season tickets were sold for the 2013/14 season, a staggering achievement considering most League Two grounds don’t even seat half this amount.
However, three months and 18 games into the League Two season, a string of bad results lead to Guy Whittingham’s removal from the managerial job and academy head Andy Awford takeover as caretaker boss. Now, without any points since early November, the future of Portsmouth Football Club remains unclear and it appears that fans would settle for a stable season just so that the Blues can get back on their feet.
One thing’s for sure, no matter how poor the situation gets, those associated with the club will always consider it better than not having a club at all – and the fact we’re still standing is far more important than any individual result.