Solution needed before it’s too late

Richard Hughes, left, and Michael Brown in training
Richard Hughes, left, and Michael Brown in training
Mo Farrah after missing out on a gold medal
				 Picture: Adam Davy

VERITY LUSH: Leave me to browse the make-up counter in peace

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Is it really beyond the wit of someone at Pompey to thrash out a solution to the Michael Brown and Richard Hughes fiasco?

Neither can play another match without triggering a contract clause which dictates the club have to give them expensive new deals.

So, bizarrely, at the moment they are being paid for doing absolutely nothing but train.

You could not make it up.

This has been going on since just after Christmas – during which time Pompey have been in freefall, with Brown’s rugged experience in central midfield sadly missed.

Without him, a team which had just won at promotion-chasing Swansea and Norwich, has developed more leaks than the Titanic.

Of course, the reliable Hughes – though rarely a starter this season – would have come in very handy, too.

The transfer window came and went with neither player offered an escape elsewhere, and Pompey left paying their idle stars.

You can not blame Brown or Hughes.

They are professionals with bills to pay and families to feed.

The club entered into deals with them, albeit under a different regime, and they have to be honoured.

Having said that, these are two honest pros who must be massively frustrated and embarrassed that they can not pull on a blue shirt every Saturday.

You have to wonder if the people upstairs at Pompey even want them to stay.

On all current evidence, the likelihood is that the club needs them off the wage bill in the summer because they are presumably on Premier League-type money.

Isn’t that why John Utaka was sold?

But with Pompey now in a relegation fight, the club need to wake up and realise Steve Cotterill needs Brown and Hughes available.

Here is a suggestion, albeit one made without being privy to all the small print of the contracts.

The players could tell their agents they want to play football again – and agree to delete the contract clause triggering new deals.

In return, Pompey give them both a decent agreed bonus fee should the club avoid relegation.

Can’t afford it?

Think how much going down to League One would cost in TV money and lost gate receipts?

After that, it would be up to all parties whether there were any new contracts on offer in the summer.

Not perfect. But then neither is paying players for sitting in the stands. Someone has to budge.

In the meantime, the manager – even bearing in mind his slender resources – must address Pompey’s chronic failure to keep clean sheets.

That might involve changes in shape, strategy and personnel.

The defence needs a fit Ricardo Rocha’s fire-fighting qualities.

You don’t win many football matches conceding the first goal, as Pompey seem to do with alarming regularity.

The return of Brown, in particular, would be a serious step towards plugging the leaks.

Over to you, Mr Lampitt, to call a meeting to end this rather pathetic impasse.