THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Punishment does not meet League's aims

icon pompeyplayersgoing30 July ~ Assuming Portsmouth do not go out of business on August 10, we will start our League One campaign on minus ten points. Some will feel this is the least that Pompey deserve for financial mismanagement, but it raises questions about the purpose and effectiveness of points deductions. On July 12 the Football League agreed to make a conditional offer of membership to whoever takes over at Fratton Park. The League also stipulated a number of financial requirements. In its statement, the League said these conditions "seek to ensure the sporting integrity of league football and the financial viability of the club."

The statement goes on to outline why the League feels the financial restrictions are necessary. In short, Portsmouth do not have a great track record when it comes to paying debts, honouring Company Voluntary Arrangements or reducing the risk to its creditors.
 
Overall I have got no complaints about the financial terms, although in my more partisan moments I wonder if the football authorities could become more expedient in slamming shut stable doors.They directly relate to the League's stated aims of ensuring sporting integrity and Pompey's future financial viability. It is not clear how the points deduction contributes to achieving these aims.
 
Starting on minus ten points is unlikely to help Portsmouth avoid relegation, get promoted to the Championship or attract a new buyer – all of which would help to ensure their financial viability. Presumably the points deduction is intended to address sporting integrity. The ten point deduction we received last year effectively relegated us. This seemed appropriate given that we were unable to pay the bills, which arguably gave us an unfair advantage on the pitch.
 
If points deductions are related to sporting integrity, is a further deduction this season required? Or fair? If Portsmouth do survive it will be with new players earning wages appropriate for League One. They will be penalised for the actions of others, which highlights a general problem with points deductions  – often they do not affect the people who caused the problems that lead to clubs being sanctioned.

If points deductions are intended as a measure to punish sporting advantage gained by clubs who spend beyond their means, then I'd suggest Pompey have already been dealt with. We certainly won't have any sporting advantage this season. I've no issue with points deductions in principle. But I'd be happier if the authorities used them alongside stronger, pro-active financial regulation, and further reaching sanctions for the people they deem "fit and proper" to run our football clubs. Leon Tricker

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