The Calvin Report on Portsmouth 2 Coventry City 0: Pompey win debtors' derby while both teams await higher judgment

The courts will soon decide the future of Portsmouth and Coventry, rivals joined in uncertainty

The resistance movement is gathering momentum. The debtors' derby at Fratton Park, between clubs of similar heritage, problems and ambitions, was almost incidental to a show of solidarity between supporters who are determined to seize control of their destiny.

Portsmouth moved off the bottom of League One with a victory that will be rendered irrelevant if, as their fans hope, the Football League impose a 1-0 point penalty on their re-emergence from administration next month. The certainty of relegation is infinitely preferable to the lack of clarity that has dogged them for four years.

Coventry, whose immediate future will be decided in the High Court on Tuesday, are at the mercy of a dispute between ACL, owners of the Ricoh Arena, and SISU, who placed Coventry City Football Club Ltd in administration on Thursday.

SISU, a hedge fund controlled by Joy Seppala, a reclusive businesswoman of US and Finnish descent, claim that, since Coventry City Football Club (Holdings) Ltd continues as the club's trading arm, it is business as usual. They will seek to protect the possibility of promotion by lobbying the Football League to prevent any 10-point deduction being imposed this season. Precedence, in the form of Southampton's failure to advance a similar argument when their holding company was placed into administration, is against them.

Coventry do not know where they will play their next match. The club shop has been emptied and offices have been evacuated. Friday's home game against Doncaster Rovers may be transferred to Hinckley United, Rushden, Tamworth United or the Bescot Stadium, home of League One rivals Walsall.

"I have got no idea about what is going to happen" said Steven Pressley, who has been Coventry manager for only 16 days. He refused to comment further, other than to confirm his squad were informed of developments on Friday.

Their fans, at least, are starting to mobilise. Michael Orton led a seven-strong delegation from the Sky Blue Trust, who met their Portsmouth counterparts in a single-decker bus on the car park emblazoned with a banner proclaiming, "by the fans for the fans".

As well as their season ticket, the modern fan requires a degree in company law and a keen awareness of the failings of human nature. Coventry's emissaries were given practical advice about dealing with owners who purport to be benefactors but operate as opportunists.

"You have to fear for the very existence of our club," Orton said. "Portsmouth provide the inspiration and vision for all clubs in our situation. They have given us the courage and confidence to prove that, as supporters, we can make a difference."

Pompey are resistance veterans. They have fought countless suitors of indeterminate credibility and intentions. The link between players and supporters is intimate, unforced and unashamedly inspirational.

"This is a fantastic football club," said Austrian midfield player Johnny Ertl, the Portsmouth captain. "I know everyone in football says this, but we really do play for the fans. We've all learned to take nothing for granted. Every game we play is an opportunity to give something back."

Despite the inevitability of relegation to League Two, it will be a landmark season should their administrators, PKF, convince the Royal Courts of Justice on April 10 or 11 to allow the Pompey Supporters' Trust to take control of the club, in a deal worth £2.65million.

A seven-man board is ready to be ratified. Once the fleeting euphoria of fulfilment fades, harsh, pragmatic decisions must be taken. The romantic vision of a supporter-driven club tends to dissipate quickly in the uniquely harsh economic climate of the lower leagues.

AFC Wimbledon's Trust found it necessary to sack a kindred spirit, long-serving manager Terry Brown, earlier in the season. Their equivalents at Wycombe Wanderers closed their successful academy and dismissed manager Gary Waddock.

Guy Whittingham has already been scouting League Two clubs in anticipation of relegation. He has been operating as caretaker manager, with only the limited security of his youth-team contract, for five months. Wins as emphatic as yesterday's, secured by goals from Jed Wallace and Patrick Agyemang after Simon Eastwood had saved an early penalty by Gary McSheffrey, are important additions to his CV.

Whittingham, known as The Corporal because of his military background, has used 51 players so far this season. They, like him, are not guaranteed reciprocal loyalty. Some, like academy product Dan Butler and winger Wallace, have seized their chance in adversity and are attracting Premier League scouts.Others are at the end of their careers. Veteran striker David Connolly has ambitions to move into management. Defender Gabor Gyepes, who, like his team-mates, has been existing on a monthly contract, must decide whether to move his young family over from Hungary, or move on.

What does a football club mean beyond a source of employment? Clues can be provided by something as apparently insignificant as the colour of a team's socks. Portsmouth's were red yesterday. When they were living the dream, which turned into a disaster, those socks were blue.

The explanation is stark and simple: the blue shirts symbolise the links with the Navy, and the losses at the Battle of Jutland. The reversion to red socks commemorates the 1800 members of the Pompey Pals Brigade who didn't return from the first World War.

Football really can be a game of life and death.

Portsmouth (4-4-2); Eastwood; Moutaouakil, Gyepes, Rocha, Cooper; Wallace, Racon, Ertl, Walker (Maloney, 90); Agyemang (Akinde, 90), Connolly.

Coventry (4-1-4-1); Murphy; Christie, Martin, Edjenguele, Stewart (Ball, 80); Jennings (Wilson, 65); McSheffrey (Thomas, 65), Moussa, Bailey, Fleck; McDonald.

Referee: Phil Gibbs.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
peopleMathematician John Nash inspired the film Beautiful Mind
News
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Life and Style
Audrey Hepburn with Hubert De Givenchy, whose well-cut black tuxedo is a 'timeless look'
fashionIt may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
music
Life and Style
fashionFrom bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine