Barry Harris back at Portsmouth after hospitalised by health scare - but job questions remain

Barry Harris returns to Fratton Park on Saturday.

But the club stalwart is still waiting to learn when he can resume Pompey boot duties after 19 months away.

Harris, who has recovered from pneumonia which left him on a respirator, has been declared well enough to attend the visit of AFC Wimbledon as a supporter.

However, Football League protocols dictate he continues to be prohibited from returning to Pompey’s back room since the March 2020 intervention of coronavirus.

For Harris, it’s the job he loves – and the wait goes on.

Blues chief executive Andy Cullen told The News: ‘Barry is a big part of Portsmouth Football Club, I am aware of that.

‘It was lovely to meet him when he came in at the start of the season and to hear his stories and his conviction to all things Pompey.

Barry Harris picture with his former Pompey manager Tony Adams at the FA Cup fourth round encounter with Arsenal in March 2020. Picture: Joe Pepler

‘At the moment, we are in a situation where we have match-day protocols implemented by the EFL. Everything is working under restrictions.

‘We have red zones in place, which affect the players, the staff and the media. It means players cannot do things on match days, such as attend presentations for sponsors.

‘It is essential personnel only. You must be an employee of the club or somebody from the PGMOL (refereeing standards group) to be in that particular area.

‘The club have to be very mindful of conforming to EFL protocols because the penalties are serious if you step outside them.

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‘I can’t put the club at risk and I can’t put individuals at risk either.

‘I have said to Barry that, when those restrictions are lifted, I look forward to having another chat. He’s very much part of the Pompey family.’

Harris’ last Pompey match was the March 2020 clash with Fleetwood, which finished in a 2-2 Fratton Park draw.

With Premier League and Football League programmes suspended days later, the 77-year-old has not cleaned a single boot since.

Although he has been supplied with a South Stand season ticket to follow home matches.

Cullen added: ‘The other thing we potentially face with Covid at the moment is the Government’s winter Plan B, which has implications on supporters attending games.

‘So we have to get through this winter before we can see any prospect of the league relaxing those protocols.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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