We already knew it’s easy to buy a football club

Former Pompey owner Balram Chainrai
Former Pompey owner Balram Chainrai

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Our football clubs are now little more than vehicles to make a quick buck.

The best thing to emerge from Channel 4’s Dispatches investigation into How to Buy a Football Club was that it shone a light on that horrible yet irrefutable truth for all lovers of the game to see.

Sound familiar, Pompey fans?

The programme’s year-long investigation into how clubs like the Blues have been bandied around to foreign owners aired on Monday night, sending reverberations around the sport with its findings.

It showed the disturbing reality of how easy it now is for people to assume control of the institutions that make the English game what it is – regardless of how dubious their motivations or shady their backgrounds.

This, of course, taps into the heart of the Pompey parable and the club’s demise among a tangled mess of five owners from abroad in less than two years.

Those devoted followers of the Blues are now well versed in the ugly events which led to their team’s downfall.

Others are not as well attuned to the uglier aspects and darker forces at work at the heart of the sport, which were exposed by the Dispatches report.

Most worryingly was the admission from Football League chairman Greg Clarke that the league do not have the power to know who owns its clubs.

The remarkably honest, but nonetheless flabbergasting, revelation tells of the mess the game has become as money has flooded into it from foreign shores.

Clarke said the league haven’t got the financial muscle to be able to investigate the frequent labyrinth-ownership structures of its members.

That was exposed when the London Nominees investment fund being followed by the programme, promised undercover reporters it could set up simultaneous ownership of two English clubs.

That, of course, is against FA rules and paves the way for the possibility of all manner of corrupt activity to take place.

The method in which the fund offered to set up special ‘vehicles’ to plough money in to up to nine different clubs also made a sham of the fit-and-proper-persons test which let Pompey down in the past.

We had been assured that process had been tightened in the wake of the Blues’ woes. It clearly still isn’t seen as a problem by those buying into the game with intentions of breaking the rules.

The one thing we thought we could take from Pompey’s demise was the game could learn from the club’s near descent into the abyss.

It is still evident, however, that the English game is still wide open to all manner of issues compromising its integrity.

Moreover, there is little to stop another club falling to the brink of liquidation in the way Pompey did – and this time going over the edge.

Those who run the game are admitting they can’t get to the bottom of how their members are shaped and who is behind them. It’s an admission that the clubs are more powerful than they are.

All the while, we still wait to hear from those who have assumed control at PO4.

The first weeks of the Convers Sports Initiatives era have been positive, but the silence from Messrs Dubov and Antonov has been deafening.

They have intimated they are treating Pompey as a business opportunity.

Supporters would like to be put in the picture about how they are going to go about their business.

We have absolutely no reason to doubt their intentions or credentials, but the Dispatches programme highlights why assurances are needed.

Especially after all that has gone on before.