'I'm truly gutted for all involved in the club’ – US Portsmouth boss philosophical after FA rule 2019/20 null and void

Glenn Turnbull admitted US Portsmouth have been left 'hurt' by the FA's decision to null and void the season for clubs below National League level.

Friday, 27th March 2020, 12:14 pm
Updated Friday, 27th March 2020, 12:32 pm
US Portsmouth celebrate one of their 86 Wessex League goals in 2019/20. Picture: Ian Hargreaves

But the USP manager stressed football matters are not that significant at the moment given the coronavirus epidemic.

US Portsmouth’s 1st XI sat seven points clear at the top of the Wessex League Division 1 when the season was suspended. They were 11 points clear of the fifth-placed club with just eight games left and the top four all expected to be promoted.

If that were not enough, US – who had won their last five league games so were bang in form - were also the highest goalscorers across both Wessex divisions with 86 goals to their name.

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In addition, USP’s reserves were 13 points clear at the top of the Wyvern Combination League East summit. They ended the season as the highest league scorers in local Saturday afternoon football with 103 goals in just 17 matches.

Sadly for the club, all the above has now counted for nothing.

But rather than condemn the FA’s controversial decision - which could see some clubs take legal action in a bid to overturn it - Turnbull was philosophical.

'Of course, the decision by the FA has put a hugely disappointing end to the season,' he conceded.

'There is no perfect solution, (but) I have to admit this hurts us.

'I'm truly gutted for all involved in the club.

'But now is a time to realise there are things in life probably bigger than football.'

Turnbull took over the first team manager’s role last summer, with Fraser Quirke and Paul Barton as his assistants.

He admits he was unaware of the 'size of task' that awaited him with USP never having won promotion since being admitted to the Wessex League in 2004. Indeed, the club’s highest position is third in Division 1 in 2008/09, while they finished fourth in 2015/16 and 2017/18.

This season they had already banked 64 points from 28 games - only 13 points fewer than the club’s 2008/09 Wessex record of 77 (and that was from 40 matches).

'When I was asked to take on the management of the first team and club I never imagined the amount of effort needed to build a club that had - and still has - so much potential, yet had seemingly under-achieved,' Turnbull said.

'I’d like to thank my two partners. Fraser and Barto have been as key to the club’s perceived success and development this season as anybody.

'In truth, there isn’t really one manager, it’s been a collective effort, decision-making process and drive to do what we’ve done for 10 months.

'Multiple calls, WhatsApp groups and group chats have not been wasted.’

Regarding the reserves, Lee Mould, Simon Hayes and Tom Grice ‘have built a side which would also have delivered above and beyond what many believed achievable.

'Incredible effort guys and I hope we can all be together next year again.

'On the pitch I’d like to personally thank all the players. Not one hasn’t bought into the ethos, style of play and team camp spirit that has made our unit so special.’