Update: Portsmouth to scale back recruitment as grave reality of crisis hits home

Pompey are set to wind down their summer recruitment in the face of the coronavirus crisis.

Wednesday, 29th April 2020, 12:30 pm
Updated Wednesday, 29th April 2020, 2:35 pm

The Blues are ready to pull back on bringing in new signings as the gravity of the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic hits home.

Chief executive Mark Catlin has highlighted the dangers of committing to new contracts with fears of a worldwide recession from the effects of the virus.

The outcome looks likely to be Pompey moving forward with a ‘slimmed-down squad’ in what could be a blueprint for clubs throughout the game.

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They today face the prospect of being left with a gaping hole in their finances with football likely to be moved behind closed doors for the foreseeable future.

Ticket sales and hospitality income generated £7.44m of the club’s £11.5m turnover in their most recent accounts, with sponsorship (£1.02m) and other football related income (£472,000) covering a further £1.49m.

Pompey’s financial commitments are dominated by the 17 first-team players contracted next term as well as stadium improvements to keep Fratton Park operational.

Kenny Jackett has been putting recruitment plans in place, but the reality is there's now set to be a massive realignment in an effort to manage those obligations.

Pompey chief executive Mark Catlin. Picture: Joe Pepler

Catlin said: ‘We went into this with eyes on the players we were looking at.

‘But at this moment in time no one knows the true financial impact this is going to have on the business.

‘If the window is allowed to be kept open there is a very strong argument financially because of the huge losses that are being suffered, you go in with a very slimmed down squad of contracted players and then use the loan market.

‘What you have to be careful of is signing up players and committing them for x number of years and then after a few games when fans are allowed back there’s another spike and football is shut down again.

‘I think there is just an uneasiness at the moment and, at this moment in time, I would just veer on the side of caution when committing to long-term contracts.’

With Pompey being ran on a sustainable basis under Michael Eisner and recently announcing profits of £2m, the hope is the club will be able to ride out the huge financial challenges on the horizon.

That doesn’t look likely to be the case for a host of other clubs in the English game, however, with the fragile nature of the football business likely to be exposed.

Catlin highlighted the impact of the crisis is already being felt across all areas of business with many experts predicting a massive global recession.

He added: ‘We live in a football bubble and football is played out in the public, but these discussions and losses and threat to the industry is being replicated across all sectors of the economy.

‘It’s not unique to Portsmouth, it’s not unique to League One and it’s not unique to football.

‘This is a wider economic problem the world is currently finding itself in.’