Sunday, 17 September 2017

The Rise and Fall (And Rise) Of Portsmouth Football Club

by Sudeep Ghosh



Portsmouth Football Club, affectionately referred to as “Pompey” by its supporters, has seen a difficult road these past few years. It is surprising to think that the 2008 FA Cup champions had sunk to the fourth division of the English football system in under five years, in perhaps the greatest decline in English football history.

During their time in top-flight football, Portsmouth FC had gained a reputation for their passionate supporters. Although the ‘Fratton Park’ seats just over a mere 18000, significantly smaller than other top-flight clubs, the sheer noise alone would put larger stadiums to shame. The iconic stadium has played host to some of the greatest players in the football history, including Sir Bobby Charlton, Ronaldinho, George Best and Cristiano Ronaldo. Fratton Park was also used for the 1948 Summer Olympics.

Their high profile rivalry with fellow south coast side, Southampton was always exciting to see. Although Portsmouth FC dominated the rivalry for many years, Southampton FC currently find themselves the better side (unfortunately). However, “The Saints” find themselves in a trophy drought - spanning over 40 years since they last won the FA Cup - in 1976. Incredibly, when Portsmouth finished last in the Premier League in 2010, they immediately found themselves FA Cup final again. Although, they were not able to achieve the feat again, the FA Cup success continued for the crumbling side.

The darkest days for Portsmouth FC arrived in 2012, when they were in danger of liquidation. In an incredible feat of passion and loyalty, ‘The Portsmouth Supporters Trust’ was formed and thousands of fans invested to save their beloved club. They were successful in raising over £2 million, and became legal owners of the club, ultimately becoming the largest fan-owned football club in England in the process. The inspiring story was well received around the country, and many large clubs voiced their respect for the fans’ dedication to their club.

In 2017, luck began to swing in the favour of Pompey. The former CEO of Disney, Michael Eisner unexpectedly announced his interest in taking over the now-debt-free club. Portsmouth began the last day of the season in 3rd place. A ruthless 6-1 win resulted in the club being crowned champions. Michael Eisner, described by many as Pompey’s lucky charm, finally took over the club in August 2017.

In small steps, Portsmouth FC seem to be improving every day. They now have the financial backing from Eisner and the forever monumental support from the fans, who appear to have become even stronger after the hardships, as they continue to drive forward. Everyone hopes to see the renowned club back in top-flight football. (Except maybe Southampton FC fans).



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