That Tal Ben Haim’s a poor old soul.
We’ve got all him wrong, you see. He’s really misunderstood and the victim of circumstances as the dispute between him and Pompey rumbles on.
All that good ol’ Tal wants to do is play football. It’s got nothing to do with his £36,000-a-week wages that were agreed in one of the all-time over-inflated football deals when he arrived in 2009.
So says the player’s ‘super agent’, Pini Zahavi, when he spoke to The News on Monday.
Zahavi insisted Ben Haim was happy to remain at Fratton Park and help the club push for promotion next season.
He’s all loyalty isn’t he? Cut the Israeli international open and he’ll bleed royal blue.
But that dastardly Pompey aren’t paying his wages. And what’s a multi-millionaire footballer to do? He’s got to keep the wolf from the door.
Hold on a minute? Did you just say Ben Haim is in dispute with his football club over wages?
Is that the same Ben Haim who was also in dispute with Chelsea when he left the club in 2008?
Is that the same Ben Haim who has previously had agent disputes which have ended up in court?
Can anyone see a pattern emerging here?
But surely this is just bad luck, because Tal is a pure soul. And, like Zahavi says, he just wants to play football.
One of the longest running and most shocking sagas in the Pompey soap opera is scheduled to come to a head at the end of next month. Ben Haim arrived when the club were staring into the financial abyss 21 months ago, yet a four-year deal on his huge money was sanctioned.
Now, a Football League hearing is set to rule on the dispute, with the Blues not paying the 29-year-old since he returned to the club at the start of the year.
It all harps back to the logistics of his deal which saw Ben Haim move to West Ham at the start of last season to link up again with his former Pompey manager, and fellow Israeli, Avram Grant.
The threat of a transfer embargo looming is one to worry supporters, as was the suggestion the club already have a bar on making signings. That is rubbish and Steve Cotterill can go about his recruitment work as normal.
Pompey clearly believe they have a cast-iron case in the Ben Haim saga to be prepared to take it to the hearing.
As chief executive David Lampitt stated ‘it’s all about protecting the best interests of the club’.
If the situation was to make it to the league date, a possible conclusion would be an embargo, in a worst-case scenario for the Blues.
It may be wholly theoretical but Pompey have eight players at present, so that restriction wouldn’t be watertight unless the league want to see one of their clubs play with half a team.
Will this mother of all legacy issues come to that? The hope is it is will be resolved beforehand.
After all, Ben Haim is one of the good guys, isn’t he?...