22 February ~ According to legend you cannot die at Disneyland – keel over and you will be taken off property before being declared deceased. It seems that unwritten rule may soon also be applicable to the Premier League, as numerous schemes and plans are desperately being hatched in a bid to help keep Portsmouth afloat – at least until the summer when the Football League can sign the death warrant.
First, the Premier League paid Portsmouth's latest share of the TV revenue directly to clubs who were owed money. You would assume that Portsmouth would have used the £7 million for that purpose anyway. But in distributing the money on their behalf, the Premier League came across like a parent controlling their child's pocket money, lest they frivolously spend it on sweets.
Next was a request from Fratton Park to sell players outside of the transfer window, a proposal turned down by the Premier League. It would have provided some revenue but almost certainly less than would have been generated had Portsmouth sold their assets in January when they had the chance. Instead, by holding on to hope that another financial savour would arrive, they find themselves on the brink of disappearance – a scenario that hardly sends a positive message to the world about the health of the Premier League "brand".
Should Portsmouth go under their results would be expunged – which at the top of the table would result in Chelsea's current four-point lead over Manchester United extending to a far less surmountable seven points. Not conducive to the kind of title race that makes for dramatic TV. At the bottom the concern has led to an even more unsavoury suggestion. West Ham United are so valuing the four points they stand to lose that co-owner David Gold openly pondered lending Pompey £10m to keep them solvent, although the Premier League seem unlikely to be able to rubber-stamp that scheme either.
Certainly nobody wants to see Portsmouth die. However, there is a morbid fascination about the prospect of the Premier League getting blood on its hands – the culture of greed that it created has led clubs to overstretch and refuse to think laterally. Had Portsmouth sold players in January and finished off this season with their youth team they would have almost certainly been relegated but would have substantially reduced their wage bill and, most importantly, left the fans with a club to follow next term. Instead, extinction is an increasing possibility for Pompey, despite the efforts of the authorities' ambulance to get their corpse to the perimeter fence. Steve Wilson