On this day: Portsmouth bid for Jermain Defoe... Slaven Bilic approached to become manager

We take a look back to see what was making the back pages of The News in years gone by...

Sunday, 9th June 2019, 9:00 am
Spurs' Jermain Defoe was a transfer target for Pompey

Pompey’s bid for Defoe shows they mean business (2006)

In a News exclusive, we revealed Pompey had made an astonishing £12m bid for Jermain Defoe. 

The offer for the Spurs and England striker was nearly treble Pompey’s transfer record, signalling the club’s intention to join the Premiership’s super-spending elite. 

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Spurs' Jermain Defoe was a transfer target for Pompey

Harry Redknapp had made Defoe his prime striking target after being handed the fire-power to sign him by co-owner Sacha Gaydamak.

Pompey’s opening offer had been turned down by Spurs, who wanted to keep the 23- year-old.

Moreover, Redknapp would have had to be at his most persuasive to convince Defoe to join a club who finished one place above the relegation places last season and had the poorest ground and training facilities in the Premiership.

But by bidding £12m for one of the top flight’s most coveted strikers, Pompey had entered a new era – perhaps the most exciting in their 108-year history. 

It marked the emergence of the south-coast club as a new potential Premiership power, underlining Gaydamak’s seriousness about turning Pompey into one of the top eight sides in the country.

The offer for Defoe was the first rippling of Pompey’s new financial muscle since Redknapp learned how much he had to spend at summit talks with Gaydamak in Israel.

Redknapp flew back from Tel Aviv invigorated by Gaydamak’s plans and convinced the club mean business. 

His immediate targeting of Defoe reflected what he considered his most important job before the new season: recruiting two high-powered strikers.

Pompey’s boss had admired Defoe since signing him as a 17-year-old from Charlton for £1.65m in 1999. 

The 5ft 7in forward was sent on loan to Bournemouth – where he scored in 10 straight league games – before being handed his Premiership debut in Redknapp’s final game in charge at Upton Park, coming off the bench in place of Svetoslav Todorov. 

Defoe’s £7m move to Spurs two years previous had not been an outright success, however.

Despite scoring 29 times in 65 Premiership starts, the Londoner found himself in and out of the Martin Jol’s starting side last season.

Pompey will not budge on Kanu (2007)

Pompey warned Kanu they won’t budge and offer him the straight two-year contract he craved.

The striker had threatened to find another club unless Pompey satisfied his demands.

The Blues were prepared to give the out-of-contract star a second year only if he played sufficient games the next season.

But Kanu thought he should be rewarded better for scoring 10 Premiership goals during the 2007-07 campaign. 

Harry Redknapp, however, was loathe to commit the club to long-term deals for outfield players in their 30s like Kanu. 

Pompey’s boss believed the offer on the table was fair.

It is understood Kanu would get an additional year if he played in the region of 20 games the next season.

Ajax and Werder Bremen were the two latest clubs to be linked with the 30-year-old.

But Redknapp was adamant Pompey would not shift from a position they have held since making Kanu their offer in January. 

The Blues boss admitted he was unsure if Kanu would be a Pompey player for the 2007-08 season. 

He said: ‘I don’t know if Kanu will re-sign for us. 

‘We’ve offered him a year, with another year on top of that if he plays a certain amount of games. 

‘That seems like a fair deal to me. It’s no different to anybody else. That's how it should be. 

‘If you don’t play the games, then you don't get another deal. If you do, you get another deal. 

‘When players get into their 30s, they can deteriorate a lot over a two-year period. You’ve got to be careful.’ 

Reports claimed Kanu was ready to walk if he was not given the security he wanted. 

The Nigerian said: ‘If I can’t get a two-year contract, then I’m prepared to leave.

‘I’ve done my best and shown my commitment to Portsmouth.

'I’ve fulfilled my own side of our agreement. It’s up to them now.’ 

Pompey make move for Bilic (2009)

On this day in 2009, the Blues approached Slaven Bilic to become their new manager.

And the Croatia boss was ready to join Sulaiman Al Fahim’s Fratton revolution. 

Bilic had emerged as the new favourite to succeed Paul Hart after his agent revealed Pompey had been in touch. 

The former Everton and West Ham man’s representative, Rudi Vata, confirmed the Croat would be keen on a move to Fratton Park.

He said the prospect of guiding Pompey into a bright, new era and turning them into a Premier League force appealed to Bilic. 

Vata told The News: ‘Slaven is open to offers and there is interest from Portsmouth. 

‘There are different clubs who want him but he is very interested. 

‘Portsmouth have tried to get in touch, but there is no concrete offer at this stage. 

‘But the idea of working with and building the club would excite him. 

‘Slaven is hungry for the right club with the right ambition because he is a hungry manager. 

'He is a person who sets high goals and wants to work hard to achieve them.

‘There are going to be special things from him in the future.’ 

Pompey were going to have to fight off interest from a host of top clubs if they were to secure the services of Bilic, who had been backed for the Fratton job by a large number of Blues fans. 

Sides in Germany were keen on the 40-year-old, while Celtic and other Premier League clubs had previously shown an interest.

The job Bilic did at Croatia since becoming boss in 2006 had seen him develop a reputation as one of the brightest managers in the game.

His stock rose after his side qualified for Euro 2008, denying England a place in the tournament. 

They went on to make an impression, too, reaching the quarter-finals before bowing out after a penalty shoot-out defeat. 

Bilic was under contract with Croatia.

But former Celtic defender Vata explained Bilic was now ready to consider his options, with the Croatian FA expected to let him leave if he received a lucrative offer. 

He said: ‘Slaven is now in a situation where he can consider offers. 

‘He is comfortable about his situation. There are a lot of different clubs who want him and he is considering those options.

‘There are big teams in Germany interested and other teams in England have shown an interest, as well as Celtic.

 ‘Slaven still has a contract but he has a fantastic relationship with everyone at Croatia. 

‘I’m sure that means the situation is very possible to move to the right club.’   

Embargo leaves Blues in limbo (2010)

Pompey revealed their registration embargo will not be lifted until at least July 1. 

And that put out-of-contract stars such as David James in limbo.

The England keeper was one of six players offered fresh deals to stay at Fratton Park.

But under the Blues’ then existing registration ban, he was not allowed to sign it.

Having been introduced by the Premier League, the embargo had been kept in place by the Football League. 

It applied to all club contracts, even those Pompey players whose deals have run out.

Hopes of lifting the ban rested on getting the Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) granted at the crucial June 17 creditors’ meeting. 

Even then, administrator Andrew Andronikou did not expect it to end until the following month at the earliest. 

The race would then be on to ensure it was removed in time to sign players ahead of the August 7 Championship kick-off. 

In the meantime, Hermann Hreidarsson, Ricardo Rocha, Kanu, Joel Ward, Marlon Pack and James could not pen their tabled deals. 

Andronikou said: ‘Everything is primed for this club – we just need the CVA to set it all off. 

‘Our embargo target is July 1, subject to the Football League’s approval, of course.

‘The Football League have told us to get the CVA and then we will talk about getting it removed.

‘But once we have got the CVA, there should not be too many reasons why not to lift it.

‘We have played by the rule book and after next week there is no need to keep it in place. 

‘In the meantime, those players out of contract are effectively free agents. 

‘They would have to re-register with the club, which means they are affected by the embargo. 

‘As it stands, they cannot sign their contracts, but hopefully we can get this CVA.’ 

Andronikou’s optimism over July 1 was clearly a best-case scenario.

It remained to be seen if the CVA would be approved.

However, the administrator remained upbeat. And he believed if the embargo remained, the Football League could help Pompey’s endeavours to add to a threadbare squad. 

He added: ‘The Football League have a policy that for a club to fulfil its league fixtures it has to have a minimum of 20 players.

‘Should we not be able to do that, there are exceptional circumstances which can be applied.

‘I believe they would allow us to bring in new players to ensure this target is met. 

‘For instance, if David James was not signed, we would have just Liam O’Brien left as a keeper. 

‘It’s generally accepted you need three goalkeepers, so we would be allowed to bring in someone else.’  

Hreidarsson set to stay for ‘exciting times’ (2011)

On this day in 2011, Hermain Hreidarsson said he expected to remain at Pompey. 

The popular Blues defender had stated he believed he would be plying his trade at Fratton Park next season. 

Pompey had been waiting to hear from the 36-year-old Iceland star after they offered him a new deal.

But there had been no developments on that front, with Hreidarsson away on international duty.

Hreidarsson has insisted, though, he believed there would soon be a positive resolution to his discussions with the club. 

The fans’ favourite battled back from a career-threatening Achilles injury to play 29 times for the Blues the previous season. 

And, despite interest from other clubs, he stated he fully expected to be part of Steve Cotterill’s squad.

He believed there could be a lot for fans to look forward to after the takeover by Convers Sports Initiatives.

Hreidarsson said: ‘They have offered me a contract and hopefully everything will be finalised as soon as possible. 

‘I am very keen on staying at Portsmouth and I think there could be some exciting times next season.’