Appleton certain of relegation after budget cut

Michael Appleton
Michael Appleton
Pompey's Brett Pitman scores a penalty in the Blues' 1-1 draw against Walsall at Fratton Park. Picture: Joe Pepler/Digital South.

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Michael Appleton has slammed the budget cut that has left him attempting to build a team on a shoestring in a matter of days as he told Portpin: We will be relegated.

The long-suffering Blues boss has only development squad players available to him for tonight’s Capital One Cup clash at Plymouth.

He feels he has been misled after the club’s prospective new owners slashed the previously-agreed wage bill from £4m-per-season to just £1.5m – as revealed by The News yesterday.

Appleton has spent all summer attempting to recruit players with the bigger figure in mind.

He admits he could have coped if handed the reduced budget back in May, but is now certain Pompey will be relegated from League One this season following the 10-point deduction and a budget comparable to a mid-table club in League Two.

Appleton blasted: ‘Unfortunately, the figures that have been reported are right.

‘But if I was given a budget of what has been reported on May 1, for instance, then I would have gone out there and got the best 20 players within that budget.

‘What I did do is spend all summer recruiting the best 20 players under a budget I was originally told.

‘For that budget to change less than a week before the start of the season is slightly unprofessional under any circumstances.

‘The budget is not a big difference – it is a gigantic difference. It is over 60-per-cent less than originally.

‘It is hard enough to deal with that when you’ve got two months to do it, let alone six or seven days.

‘I have now got to somehow go and find 20 players to go and fit a different scenario, but with only six days to do it.’

Asked what the new budget meant in terms of this season’s League One prospects, Appleton replied: ‘Relegation. Without any shadow of any doubt.

‘And that is me being probably the most optimistic person you have ever come across in recent times at Portsmouth.

‘I am also a realist to understand.

‘We will fight it right to the death of the final whistle of the final game but I certainly won’t be putting the players under more pressure than they need to be.

‘If I was given the budget we talked about originally, I basically put my neck on the line at the time and said regardless of the 10-point deduction I would get us back into the Championship.’

Aside from the time he has wasted on attempting to recruit players he can no longer afford, Appleton is also seething that nobody from Portpin will return his calls.

He said: ‘Trevor (Birch) has reported back to me but no-one from Portpin has rung me to tell me.

‘They are not picking up their voicemail or texts.’

The Blues boss was informed of the new budget over the weekend by administrator Birch but is now attempting to deal with the new remit.

Appleton said: ‘You go through mixed emotions. When you get told it is like anything, initially you are angry, disappointed, your back’s up and you want to take it out on someone.

‘Luckily, I get out of it quite quickly. Normally it takes me a couple of hours.’