Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp admitted he had to sell midfielder Pedro Mendes to fund his next moves in the transfer market.
But he admits the sale of Mendes to Rangers for £3million has made his team's task at Chelsea in their Premier League opener on Sunday all the more difficult.
The Portsmouth boss, who is recovering from a virus, confirmed the sale was necessary to ensure Portsmouth are protected from the credit crunch.
He claims Portsmouth owe their Premier League status to Mendes, who fired a spectacular winner against Manchester City two years ago which is still seen as the catalyst for Pompey's great escape from relegation - fuelling a long, unbeaten run towards the end of the 2005-06 season.
Although Mendes was out of the side for lengthy spells last season, he came back to play in the FA Cup final victory over Cardiff, and Redknapp said: 'I'm really sorry to lose Pedro.
'I love him as a fella and a player. He's a great pro and a great person.
'But I had to get some money in. They are the rules of the game. That's why he had to go. We would not be sitting here now if it wasn't for him. That's a fact.
'He kept us up that year when he scored that goal against Manchester City. No doubt about that. And he would have been in my team tomorrow.
'I have to balance the books though. I had great offers for one or two other players, but they didn't want to move. They are quite happy to stay here and do what they do.
'And we know the owner (Alexandre Gaydamak) can't keep funding it. It's not a bottomless pit. So in the end we had to accept the offer for Pedro.'
Chief executive Peter Storrie recently revealed more than £60million had been spent 'on players alone' at Portsmouth in less than two years.
Redknapp is still desperate to bring in three more loan signings before the transfer window closes at the end of August, having also signed Glen Little on a free transfer from Reading, Ben Sahar on a six-month loan from Chelsea and, most recently, winger Jerome Thomas on a season-long loan from Charlton.
While he maintains that Luiz Felipe Scolari has inherited a formidable Chelsea squad, Redknapp is concerned that his own side, who also have a European campaign ahead of them, may be short of quality in some areas.
However he cannot rule out more players being sold before the close of the transfer window.
He said: 'We are short of three players. That is what we need to be a squad who can compete on the domestic front and try to have a run in Europe.
'We may have to sell another one (to raise the money to buy), but if another one goes that's another loan I need.
'There is no money left to spend on signings now, but we have spent good money. The owner has backed me and I can't fault what he has done in the last couple of years. There are still great players here.
'But we still are short of cover in a few areas.'
Redknapp compared his own squad with Chelsea's collection of players at Stamford Bridge, where Portsmouth have not won since 1953, and said: 'That Luiz Felipe Scolari is a lucky man.
'All those terrific players before he even arrives. And the new ones like Deco - he's going to be a big star in the Premier League.'