Pompey 1-2 Derby

The writing was on the wall for Pompey in the 41st minute when Jake Buxton put Derby County in front at Fratton Park
The writing was on the wall for Pompey in the 41st minute when Jake Buxton put Derby County in front at Fratton Park
Pompey manager Kenny Jackett Picture: Joe Pepler

Jackett’s Pompey transfer promise

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In the end, factors elsewhere settled Pompey’s relegation issue.

Highly fitting, considering matters away from the Fratton Park pitch had plunged the club into such a scenario in the first place.

Demotion to League One has never been about the inadequacies of the manager or players.

Instead, culpability for a second relegation in three seasons lies entirely with mismanagement inflicted from above.

Purported self-made millionaires, experienced international businessmen, philanthropists, qualified number crunchers and perceived safe pairs of hands.

Their reckless actions in the Fratton corridors of power resulted in administration and a famous old club taken to the verge of going out of existence.

In pure footballing parlance, the resulting 10-point deduction served as punishment for their actions was decisive.

Perhaps, that is why thousands of fans stayed behind after the final whistle on Saturday to give their appreciation to the players.

After all, Michael Appleton and his squad were as helpless in righting the wrongs of the CSI regime as the Fratton faithful were.

This season should not have been a relegation battle.

The fact it was – and an unsuccessful one at that – is the responsibility of Vladimir Antonov, Roman Dubov and David Lampitt.

Granted, there was a failure to beat Bristol City at home along the way in addition to defeat at Coventry, Fratton disappointment against Millwall and a thumping to Burnley.

Ultimately, though, the damage was done by a points deduction for non-footballing reasons.

But for that, Appleton would have secured mid-table safety a long time ago with a team containing the likes of Stephen Henderson in goal and Erik Huseklepp on the flank.

Instead, victory for Bristol City against woefully out-of-form Barnsley on Saturday sealed the Blues’ relegation.

Pompey’s 2-1 defeat to Derby was rendered simply irrelevant. Another example of a club’s fate being dictated by others.

Now comes the biggest fight of all to focus everyone’s minds.

The distraction of attempting to remain in the Championship against all the odds is over.

It is time to concentrate on Portsmouth Football Club existing beyond the month of May.

Administrator Trevor Birch has made no secret of the fact that existing funds will run out just before the Football League meeting on June 2.

Failure for two presently-interested parties to progress considerably before then will mean liquidation.

As of yet, these mystery parties still in talks with Pompey’s administrators have yet to lodge a bid.

Then there is the Trust’s pre-share scheme – a concept which is developing the fan’s financial clout to launch their own bid.

It is becoming increasingly well-backed by supporters and local businessmen tired of witnessing a procession of owners and their minions ruining the club.

The opportunity of the Blues returning to the community is unquestionably an appealing one.

For the Trust to succeed, however, it requires the support of the fans both in heart and also financially.

The simple truth is – unless any new owner can be found, Pompey won’t even be playing in League One next season.

That dreaded scenario certainly made Saturday’s Fratton Park fixture that much more poignant.

Not even defeat and relegation could dampen the enthusiasm of those home supporters.

They sung of embarking on a League One tour. They chanted about going to Shrewsbury.

They spoke of what the Football League could do with their fit-and-proper-person’s test.

And they vowed their club would never die.

It was not a day to get maudlin, it was not about tear-stained cheeks or sobbing into scarfs.

There was no blame or attempted repercussions aimed at the players in front of them.

The fans know who the real culprits are for condemning Pompey to the third tier of English football for the first time since 1983.

The majority of the players have carried themselves with dignity, professionalism and passion during the past few difficult months.

They have seen their ranks weakened by first-teamers loaned out to save money and youngsters loaned in to replace them.

Yet, they made a real fist of it – led of course by Appleton.

The Blues boss has become an immensely popular figure.

His honesty, openness and transparency completely contrasting the CSI era he originally walked into.

What’s more, it is an approach appreciated by a set of supporters who have long craved to be treated as such.

Appleton was visibly emotional when he walked around the pitch with his son during the post-match appreciation to fans.

He was accompanied by the rest of his squad and their children during a touching tribute.

Glaringly absent was Tal Ben Haim, the man who epitomises Pompey’s prolonged financial mismanagement.

Although present at the game, he failed to appear with the rest of his team-mates on the pitch despite being instructed to do so.

Benjani was the other absentee – a remarkable lack of respect from both well-paid players.

For the vast majority of those who did bother to thank the supporters, it was their final appearance at Fratton Park.

Chris Maguire and Scott Allan are destined for better than League One standard.

Jason Pearce and Joel Ward attracted Championship interest in January – don’t expect them to snub such offers this time around.

Kanu is in negotiations for his contract to be cancelled, while Luke Varney and Dave Kitson are high earners and have a fragile relationship with Pompey fans.

Meanwhile, Jamie Ashdown and Ricardo Rocha are out of contract this summer.

Of course, a match did take place – not that it had much relevance to anyone but Ashley Harris.

The Purbrook youngster was granted his full debut and responded with a bright display before succumbing to cramp.

The glimpse of the future and hopefully the first of many youngsters emerging through a club which has to become more self-sufficient.

Amid his encouraging display, Jake Buxton gave Derby the lead, only for Varney to level in the 74th minute.

Just four minutes later, though, Jamie Ward fell rather too easily under a challenge from Pearce inside the box and Steve Davies netted from the spot.

That was it, defeat followed and relegation to League One was confirmed. Now to the future and hopefully a properly-run community club which will be able to compete in League One next season.