A new, new, new era beckons...?
Portsmouth Football Club on Wednesday announced that the takeover by Convers Sports Initiatives had gone through, making Vladimir Antonov the club's fifth owner in as many years.
However fans' of the club are excited at the prospect of new beginnings at Fratton Park, Antonov has urged fans' to give CSI time to get their feet under the table, and make necessary changes ahead of the new season.
The deal sees Antonov take an 85% stake in the company, with business partner Roman Dubov owning 10%, and former Leeds United chairman Chris Akers controlling the remaining stake in the business, all looking to play their part on rebuilding the club.
On his personal Facebook account, he wrote: 'Guys I fully respect your questions but before we will have a big press conference we need to fix immediate issues such as squad and some works with the arena. Hope you understand this. Give us a chance to do our job without noise around. Thanks a lot! Play up Pompey! We will be back with our plans shortly!'
This response from the club's new chief will come as a sigh of relief to the supporters, who will be looking for a slow, stable uprooting of their club following administration and relegation from the Premier League in 2010.
Portsmouth and its fans' know first hand how poor financial management and an open cheque book can ultimately lead to disaster, with millions splashed on some of the world's top footballers in order to win the FA Cup in 2008, under the stewardship of fellow-Russian investor Sacha Gaydamak.
However, with the fixtures for the new season released in just 15 days time, the club need to move swiftly to bring in players to help them compete for a return to the Premier League; a return that the new owners seem keen on, commenting on the club's official website: 'We ultimately selected Portsmouth Football Club because of its history, loyal fan base and its potential to return to the Premier League.'
With just eight first-team players on board for the 2011/2012 campaign, manager Steve Cotterill will be hoping to finalise the two players which he has had 'on hold' for the past week, with speculation rife that those names are former Ipswich midfielder David Norris, and striker Jason Roberts, who previously played for the Blues in the 2003/2004 season.
The club will be also looking to replace key players Richard Hughes, Michael Brown and Danny Webber, all released by Pompey at the end of the season. Brown and Hughes missed much of last season through contract dispute, leaving Cotterill struggling to field a strong first eleven.
This, coupled with the owners want to improve Fratton Park will be a welcome sigh of relief to many supporters, who have been promised improved facilities for over ten years. The 20,821 seater stadium has needed updating for over years, with many fans' hoping to keep the traditional stadium rather than move to a new site.
Fratton Park is one of just a few old-fashioned stadiums still standing in England's domestic leagues, so keeping the ground in a similar state to what it is now is imperative, if only just keeping the Fratton End, or the 'Pompey 1898' entrance to the ground.Brett's Babble
For me, this takeover is the start of a new era for Portsmouth - it's just a shame that we've had so many of those in the past few years that the phrase has been used more than Hughesy this season.
Most importantly though, I took kindly to the words of new owner Vladimir Antonov, highlighting that they need to get on with the job of restructuring the club, the squad and the stadium before blowing hot air up their own backsides in the media.
We've had far too many 'owners' come in, lay out big plans to sign high-profile footballers and give us floating stadiums; so it's very refreshing to have a group of people come into our club, notice the cracks on the walls (unfortunately, literally...) and know exactly what they need to do, being careful not to get fans' hopes up.
We need at least ten players, in my opinion. I'd love to see us go for the likes of Jay Bothroyd (who seems all-but Everton bound), Craig Mackail-Smith and George Boyd of Peterborough United, as well as Nigel Reo-Coker and David Norris - whose signing seems imminent if you believe the local papers.
I've rated the Peterborough pair for a couple of years now, and feel that they could offer us a great addition up top - not just with the rest of the squad but the fact they've played together for a number of years. That, as well as Bothroyd would offer us enough fire-power up front to challenge for the league, but not cost the club too much money; with the former-Cardiff striker released early last week.
Among those released recently was Darryl Flahavan, who was on contact with Pompey on a rolling monthly deal, however his exit at Fratton Park will leave Cotterill looking for a new back-up for Jamie Ashdown, a player that would challenge the former-Reading stopper for the number one shirt this campaign.
Cotterill admitted in the Portsmouth Evening News recently that he admired Ashdown, although felt he needed to do more should Pompey challenge at the top-end of the Npower Championship - so he will be on the lookout for one good enough to keep him on his toes.
Until next time,
Twitter - @DanBrett90Written by Dan Brett
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