Former Portsmouth and Spurs boss Harry Redknapp shelved by BT Sport amid fears of potential fan backlash against Arsenal

Concerns over a Fratton faithful backlash have prompted BT Sport to scrap plans to use Harry Redknapp during coverage of the FA Cup clash with Arsenal.

Wednesday, 12th February 2020, 11:45 am
Updated Thursday, 13th February 2020, 4:28 pm

It is understood the sports channel were considering employing the former Blues boss as part of their broadcast team for the March 2 fifth-round fixture.

Redknapp was seen as an ideal studio guest, having overseen two highly-successful spells at Fratton Park in the 2000s.

However, the BT Sport role would have included being positioned pitch side at some stage, a scenario chiefs felt could pose a risk considering the ill-feeling some Pompey fans still harbour for their ex-manager.

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It was feared a negative reaction could be captured by the live broadcast – and instead it has been decided to look elsewhere.

Despite Redknapp’s Spurs links and the presence of fierce North London rivals Arsenal for the FA Cup match, it is understood the concern primarily centred on the potential reaction of the home support.

The suggestion was subsequently shelved before the 72-year-old could be approached, with Redknapp therefore playing no part in discussions.

BT Sport will now look elsewhere for a guest, with Sol Campbell a possibility considering his links with both clubs.

Harry Redknapp guided Pompey to the FA Cup in May 2008, but won't be part of BT Sport's coverage of the fifth-round clash with Arsenal on March 2

Campbell, currently manager of struggling League One side Southend, was Pompey captain when they lifted the FA Cup almost 12 years ago.

That 2008 Wembley triumph was, of course, masterminded by Redknapp, who remains one of Pompey’s greatest bosses since the days of Bob Jackson’s side being crowned champions of England.

Overall, he captured the Division One title in 2002-03 and later returned to register Pompey’s highest top-flight finish for more than half a century, in addition to the 2008 FA Cup.

However, the decision to walk out on the Blues in November 2004, only to 15 days later join fierce rivals Southampton, was hugely controversial.

When the sides met at Fratton Park in April 2005, he was allocated personal security, such was the strength of ill-feeling. Southampton lost 4-1.

He returned 12 months later to pull off the Great Escape and keep the Blues in the Premier League, followed by more success.

Redknapp quit Pompey for Spurs in October 2008, although was on the losing side when the teams met in the memorable 2010 FA Cup semi-final, with a 2-0 defeat.

He never again visited Fratton Park in a managerial capacity after Spurs’ 2-1 victory in October 2009 – the Blues’ last campaign in the Premier League.