No fire sale but questions remain unanswered

Ryan Williams
Ryan Williams
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Steve Cotterill described one deadline day at Pompey as one of the worst moments of his career.

Thankfully, Michael Appleton was spared the same fate.

Not that he and Blues fans could possibly have anticipated yesterday’s shock result.

Even Jason Pearce admitted he thought he would be sold, albeit against his deepest wishes.

As it was, ultimately only Ryan Williams left Fratton Park on January transfer deadline day 2012.

But while we can breathe a sigh of relief that no fire sale took place and the Blues still boast their best players, plenty of questions now need to be answered:

n How will Pompey alleviate their financial crisis having not received the expected windfall from player sales?

n Have they received a slice of parachute payments early? Is there a new buyer close?

n How much of the £400,000 gained from the Ryan Williams sale will they get up front? And will it be used for the unpaid tax bill?

n Then there are the questions about what bids they turned down for their players.

Chief executive David Lampitt declined to speak to The News last night, while Andrew Andronikou was unavailable for comment.

It is hoped that situation changes today so Pompey fans can get answers they deserve at a time of continued uncertainty for the club.

For the time being, supporters can rejoice after the Blues, helped by Lampitt, ensured their brightest stars remained at Fratton Park.

By all accounts, Joel Ward and Stephen Henderson had the opportunity to leave, while Pompey turned down several bids for Pearce, who was equally desperate to stay put.

Ipswich were pushing hardest for the trio, although several other clubs yesterday also emerged as interested parties.

Instead all three opted to remain.

They may have yet to receive January’s wages, the club could well be liquidated on February 20, yet they wanted to stay.

It is testament to the management of Appleton, the team spirit and, of course, the backing of supporters.

Of course, the latest transfer deadline day had the potential to be another depressing chapter.

Particularly with parent company CSI in administration and a £1.6m tax bill due.

The mind is cast back to August 2010, when Levi Kushnir, and Andrew Andronikou sat at the club’s Rodney Road offices looking to sell.

Marc Wilson, Tommy Smith, James Hurst were all sold, while Michael Brown, Richard Hughes and Hayden Mullins were also among those hawked around in a last-minute dash for cash.

Then there was David Nugent, who took the thoroughly-modern approach of switching off his mobile phone.

Undeterred, Andronikou rang The News’ sports editor Howard Frost by mistake and instructed he was being loaned to Blackpool.

He soon cut communication when informed he was not speaking to a striker who once fetched £6m and played for England.

Let’s hope Andronikou gets to speak to the right man to become Pompey’s new owner in the very near future.

Having witnessed the frenetic proceedings that day, Cotterill proclaimed it as one of his lowest-ever points in the game.

As for Andronikou, he passed off the presence of Kushnir – the Portpin co-owner who had yet to resume ownership of Pompey – as being because he ‘wanted to be part of the experience process’.

Roll on to January 2012 and Andronikou was playing a part again.

By all accounts, the administrator had, by his own admission, been ‘advising’ on player sales.

He had been negotiating the £1m sale of Henderson and Ward to Ipswich, as well as Williams’ £400,000 switch to Fulham.

This time around, only Williams fled Fratton Park.

The 18-year-old’s exit to Fulham had already effectively been engineered the previous night.

He was part of a Cottagers reserve side who defeated Wolves 1-0 at Telford.

However, he was officially recorded as a triallist as the Fulham management took a closer look before finalising the transfer.

Not that Appleton could afford to lose any more than one of the smallest squad in the Football League.

Earlier in the day, it was a skeleton playing staff which took to the training pitch.

Only 11 first-teamers were available, highlighting the brittleness of Appleton’s squad.

Their numbers were boosted by six Academy players in the form of Sam Magri, Dan Butler, George Colson, Alex Grant, Jed Wallace and Ashley Harris at Eastleigh.

That left a total of 17 players for Appleton and coaches Stuart Gray and Guy Whittingham to put through their paces.

Questions would certainly have been raised in the interests of a club being competitive if Pompey’s numbers continued to shrink.

Still, as it was, Henderson, Ward and Pearce refused to leave the club.

Now Pompey fans have every reason to smile and savour the fact their prized assets are still at the football club and against all the odds.

For today, anyway – because, tomorrow, bills still need to be paid.