Monday 8 December ~
Another week, another club for sale. Having denied for several months that he is looking to sell up, Portsmouth's owner Alexandre Gaydamak has finally announced that he is looking for a buyer. Although it may be that the decision was not taken by him but by Mr Gaydamak senior, an Israel-based entrepreneur whom the French want to extradite as part of investigation into arms-dealing and who is, it is said, has been using his son as a proxy for his ownership of the club.
Portsmouth have engaged an old cohort of the Gaydamaks, “super-agent” Pini Zahavi, to help find a buyer. Zahavi may well have the biggest contact book in world football but if he succeeds in palming off Portsmouth it will still be quite an achievement. After all, several other clubs in the Premier League have spent months vainly searching for someone to relieve them of football businesses that have become a burden as the global economy lurches into recession.
Even Liverpool, one of the two global brands in English football, are proving a difficult sale. The al-Maktoum family, rulers of Dubai, appear to have given up on taking over at Anfield because the asking price is too high. For a fraction of the £600 million being demanded by Liverpool's American owners, the hobbyists from the Emirates could snap up Portsmouth or West Ham. The latter took a surprise point at Liverpool in their most recent game but, like Portsmouth, they face the prospect of losing up to half their first team in the January sales with no funds available to bring in replacements.
The gloom at Upton Park will deepen should Spurs win there tonight, and not only because they would drop below their London rivals. The presence of Harry Redknapp in the away dugout will remind Hammers fans once again of the extensive squad sale he presided over as the club's manager in the late 1990s. Harry's brother-in-law, and former assistant, hopes that the home crowd will prefer to remember the good times under Redknapp such as four top ten finishes.
Unlike some, Spurs are in a position to make signings in January. One of their targets is a former player, Robbie Keane, who has been an emphatic flop since his move to Liverpool, being substituted 15 times and remaining on the bench throughout their most recent match at Blackburn. With Rafa Benitez being another manager who can't buy unless he sells, Liverpool are said to be open to a deal that would involve their clawing back even half of the £20m they spent on Keane. Players from other clubs might be clamouring to join the Redknapp Revolution, but If Keane ever needed motivation to play better, the prospect of being offloaded just four months after his "dream move" ought to do it.