Reaction to Portsmouth plight

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The Independent Football

Former Portsmouth chairman Milan Mandaric believes the club can rise from the ashes and become a force once again.

The Barclays Premier League club went into administration today with debts of approximately £70million - and a nine-point penalty will be confirmed next week which will virtually condemn Pompey to relegation to the Coca-Cola Championship.

However, Mandaric, who bought the Fratton Park club in 1998 and relinquished control in 2006, sees a positive future despite the current situation.

He explained on Sky Sports News: "What's happened is sad. It's been one mess after another. It's something we didn't want to see happen but we have to deal with it.

"The community lives and breathes for the club there and there is no reason why it can't grow out of this and be even stronger.

"I'm quite sure Portsmouth in two or three years time can be as solid as they were two or three years back.

"Andrew Andronikou (the administrator) has a challenge but he's a capable guy and has done it before.

"It's a tremendously attractive club, it's special and can be one of the best in the country.

"There is enough land around to rebuild the stadium, with 35,000-36,000 seats.

"Someone needs to support it - and they need passion, desire, commitment and money."

"Whoever comes in must be a proper owner. They've got to have enough money to spend and not to spend money they don't have. They're the basic things - if that happens you shouldn't have a problem."

The club's chief executive Peter Storrie revealed today he will leave the club when he has helped a new buyer take over.

Mandaric - now chairman of Leicester - has nothing but good memories of Storrie during his time at Fratton Park.

Mandaric said: "He has gone through tremendous heartache trying to rescue the club, he's been losing the energy and oxygen out of his tank.

"His help will be important for the administrator. He was a superb CEO in my time...he did everything properly and I had no problems at all.

"It's hard for me to comment on what happened now with the new owners. There have definitely been some mistakes there somewhere but it would be unfair for me to blame Peter for that."

Former Portsmouth boss Tony Pulis, now manager of Stoke, called for action to be taken after Pompey's problems.

"This is a family club, run for the fans, and by local people," said Pulis, who had a stint as boss in 2000.

"There should be an inquiry into how Portsmouth has been run."

Football Supporters' Federation chairman Malcolm Clarke insists more needs to be done to regulate clubs and their owners.

"Portsmouth's case yet again shows the inadequacy of the Fit and Proper Person test and is a failure by the Premier League and FA to ensure owners have real and sustainable funds," Clarke said.

"We welcome the Premier League's new, tighter regulations around finance and ownership but they simply don't go far enough and, in Pompey's case, it's locking the stable door after the horse has bolted.

"Top-flight clubs receive billions via TV deals alone, how do they end up in administration? Which other industry has such passionate 'customers' willing to part with fortunes so easily and yet gets itself into this predicament?

"If you ran your household budget like this, it wouldn't be long before you didn't have a roof over your head. The financial mismanagement of some our clubs is astounding."

Portsmouth South MP Mike Hancock claimed: "This is a football issue and an issue where the Premier League owes it to the football community here in Portsmouth to do a little bit more than they have done.

"All they have done at the present time is run the touchline and they haven't run very fast in helping us. All they have done is look after themselves and other clubs. What they have a responsibility to is the fans and the city of Portsmouth.

"Football means a lot to the people of this city and it means a lot for the Premier League to actually show some faith and actually maybe pay off some of the small creditors at this club."

A spokesman for Prime Minister Gordon Brown said: "It is a sad day for a great club and it is deeply regrettable if they go into administration.

"It is a matter for individual clubs and the HMRC, but this issue of sensible rules and governance has been raised by (Cabinet minister) Andy Burnham, when he was at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

"We remain concerned that fans and communities of football clubs like Portsmouth shouldn't suffer because of the inability of clubs to manage their finances properly.

"Clubs like Portsmouth have a tremendous local following. Lots of people enjoy watching them. If they are no longer able to play football, it is a sad loss for the local community."

Former Portsmouth boss Harry Redknapp, who guided Portsmouth to their 2008 FA Cup triumph, urged the club's supporters to look on the bright side.

"Going into administration is the better of two evils," he said. "For the last few weeks they have been talking about going out of business, which is the last thing anybody wants.

"They have accepted they were going to get relegated anyway so they can go down and come back strong again.

"They can come straight back up again with that parachute money and the crowd behind them at home."

Redknapp added: "It has been amazing how it has gone at Portsmouth in the last eight months. We keep seeing owners coming in but then there's no money. At least they will still be there. They will go down but they will get the parachute money, £16million next year, £16million the year after.

"They have to rebuild and come back again. They can do that - they have done it before.

"When Milan Mandaric took over the gates were shut and there were tax bills to be paid off then as well. When I went there we were bottom of the Championship.

"This is a much bigger mess because we weren't really investing in those days. We built a team and got ourselves up but it was only when Milan left the club that we suddenly started investing in better players, more expensive players.

"But we had a great record in the transfer market and there are still players who cost next to nothing who are worth millions now, kids like Marc Wilson, who I signed. He must be worth £5million.

"It's just where the money has gone in the last 18 months, that's the problem."

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