Steve Cotterill: My Portsmouth boss ended up in prison - I only ever spoke to him for five minutes

Disgraced banker Vladimir Antonov’s downfall resulted in Pompey’s second administration in 24 months.

Wednesday, 17th June 2020, 5:00 pm
Vladimir Antonov (left) and Roman Dubov took over Pompey in June 2011. Antonov is currently in prison for bank fraud. Picture: Chris Ison

Despite serving as his manager, Steve Cotterill insists he spent just five minutes in the company of the imprisoned Russian.

Cotterill was entering his second season at Fratton Park when Convers Sports Initiatives completed a takeover in June 2011.

They retained the manager who had led the Blues to 16th in the Championship the previous season.

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CSI consisted of owners Antonov and Roman Dubov, along with former Leeds chief executive Chris Akers, with all passing the Football League’s fit and proper person test.

However, in November 2011, CSI went into administration following the arrest of Antonov in connection with a multi-million pound bank fraud.

Having later fled England while on conditional bail and convicted in his absence, Antonov was jailed for two-and-a-half years by a St Petersburg court in March 2019, having pleaded guilty to bank fraud.

Cotterill told The News: ‘I met Antonov once, it was so brief.

‘I got a call to meet him and Roman Dubov at a Portsmouth hotel, but our time spent together was so brief it was incredible.

‘It must have lasted 10 minutes – but for five minutes of that Antonov was on the phone. That was it really.

‘I didn’t quite know what to think. Certainly I had gone there expecting the meeting to be more than 10 minutes!

‘He was always busy. If you needed to speak to anyone then it was Roman, but that's okay because he’s a nice guy and really likes his football. I have to say, he was as good as gold

‘I still speak to Roman today, he will quite often phone me for a chat. When I was manager of Bristol City, he came down for a game and was in my office before the match and after.

‘It would have been nice if there could have been stability above my head at Pompey. It was never stable, you didn’t know what was going to happen next.

‘Even before Antonov and Dubov, that was always an element of panic a week before everybody was due to get their monthly pay.’

Cotterill had left Pompey for Nottingham Forest five weeks before the decisive moment of Antonov’s arrest.

Instead Michael Appleton, as the newly-appointed manager, had to deal with the catastrophic fall out.

Cotterill added: ‘CSI actually threw a fair bit of money at the training ground to try to get it up to scratch.

‘Only a couple of pitches at the top were okay to train on. The others were really heavy and not very good, especially when the weather changed.

‘When the Russians came in, they ended up completely reseeding the bottom half of the area.

‘It was nice to have good pitches to train on and new goals which weren’t falling apart. All those things you can take for granted.’

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