Peter Crouch bankrolled Premier League football for Portsmouth - Ronan Curtis' sale could repeat promotion trick

The first time Peter Crouch departed Pompey it was clutching 19 goals and The News/Sports Mail’s Player of the Season trophy.

Thursday, 20th May 2021, 12:08 pm
Peter Crouch didn't even spend a full season at Fratton Park - yet his March 2002 sale to Aston Villa bankrolled the creation of a promotion-winning side. Picture: Allan Hutchings

And his £5m legacy helped bankroll the Blues into the Premier League.

Granted, the ITV Digital collapse allowed Milan Mandaric to be financially dominant over rivals struggling to bridge an unexpected cash shortfall.

While in Harry Redknapp, Pompey possessed the club’s greatest manager since Bob Jackson’s title-winning era in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

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However, the sale of the Blues’ most outstanding player in Crouch to Aston Villa in March 2002 primarily laid the foundations for that memorable 2002-03 promotion campaign.

These days, bankable assets are sparse at Fratton Park.

Pompey wouldn’t get back anywhere near the £1m spent on John Marquis considering his form, age, and the fact he will soon enter the final 12 months of his contract.

Similarly, Marcus Harness was recruited for around £800,000, a value which will have dipped, but, such is his talent, he could one day be worth plenty more than that July 2019 price.

Which brings us to Ronan Curtis.

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A Republic of Ireland international winger boasting a League One record of 40 goals in 142 games, understandably there has long been Championship interest.

Aged 25 and armed with plenty of potential, drive and passion, it is inevitable Curtis will find his way above League One.

Names were not mentioned, yet clearly Curtis fits the bill – and undoubtedly the time is right.

Obviously the left winger will not attract a Crouch-like windfall, yet Pompey will be seeking beyond a million for a player striving to follow in the footsteps of Matt Clarke and Jamal Lowe.

And in a financially-devastated post-Covid footballing climate, how that sum could transform Cowley’s playing squad.

Rewind to March 2002 when director of football Redknapp was appointed as Graham Rix’s managerial replacement days following the sale of Crouch.

In anticipation of Crouch’s £5m exit, Svetsolav Todorov (£750,000) had already arrived from West Ham a week earlier.

Then, within days of Crouch’s exit for Villa, there were Pompey arrivals for Eddie Howe (Bournemouth) and Hayden Foxe (West Ham), each costing around £400,000.

Once the season ended, Matt Taylor (Luton) and Richard Hughes (Bournemouth) arrived within hours of each other in June 2002, again for transfer fee outlays.

Next there were the eye-catching big-name arrivals who represented free transfers, nonetheless requiring significant commitment to wages.

Arjan De Zeeuw, Shaka Hislop, Paul Merson, Gianluca Festa, Carl Robinson and Lassina Diabate were the first raft.

Then, towards the season’s halfway point, Steve Stone’s loan from Villa became permanent, Deon Burton (£250,000) came from Derby, while Tim Sherwood and Yakubu were snapped up.

That squad claimed the First Division title and earned what would be a seven-season Premier League stay.

It was all funded by Crouch, plus £400,000 from Crystal Palace for Shaun Derry.

Who knows, perhaps the potential sale of Curtis can once again aid the creation of a Pompey promotion-winning side.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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