FIT AND PROPER ?..
As a dyed in the wool Southampton supporter, you might expect me to be enjoying the mayhem that has been surrounding Portsmouth Football Club for too long. The rivalry between the two cities and their respective football clubs goes back a long way, heightened by their proximity along the M27 and the fact that they now both compete in the Football League Championship.
Like my own club, Portsmouth have suffered the anguish of going into Administration, change of ownership and management as well as mixed fortunes on the field of play. The difference is that, whereas the Saints were probably fortunate to come under the benign ownership of the Liebherr family, Portsmouth have had a whole series of owners making up a bizarre cast of scamps, rascals and men of mystery.
These have included the son of an Israeli convicted of arms trafficking, a mysterious Hong Kong business man, a sheikh from the United Arab Emirates and another who may or may not have even existed. The latest, one Vladimir Antonov, has been arrested and released on bail for alleged fraudulent activity surrounding a bank he owns in Lithuania prior to his resignation as Portsmouth chairman yesterday.
My photo above shows Mr. John Portsmouth Football Club Westwood. He is shown with one of his minders resplendant in his matchday garb, so different from his weekday persona as a mild mannered bookseller in Petersfield. Mr. Westwood is clearly a devotee of his football club - he literally wears it on his engraved teeth - and he probably represents the pinnacle of the passionate support that Pompey have had over the years. Like all football clubs, Portsmouth have a devoted following and they deserve better than the traumas they have had to endure as this endless stream of dubious owners keep the door at Fratton Park continually revolving.
As a result of all this to-ing and fro-ing, there are obvious questions to be asked about the running of the club but there is an even more fundamental question which can only be answered by the football authorities and it`s this. How come that this collection of rogues, malcontents and chancers have seemingly passed the Fit and Proper Person test for football club ownership?
Maybe now, following this latest episode, the question might finally be addressed, especially as it seems likely the club will suffer a points deduction, if not an even worse fate as a result of serial mismanagement. And all the while Mr. Westwood, his minders, his acolytes and the rest of the football club`s loyal followers can only guess at what the future may hold - or whether there is a future at all.
As for me, I hope there is, as I know how I felt when the future of the Saints was uncertain and for their sake I hope a secure future can finally be found for the Fratton Park faithful. After all, what`s the point of a rivalry if there`s no rival any more.