Administrator urges League to rethink points penalty
Portsmouth's administrator Andrew Andronikou has given a 'team talk' ahead of Monday's game against Liverpool and told the players he will do all he can to persuade the Premier League not to dock nine points - a scenario he feels would "distort" the league.
Andronikou has spoken to the players at the training ground in the presence of manager Avram Grant in an unusual team meeting. The address comes ahead of the club's last league match before the Premier League invokes its own rules and docks nine points for the club going into administration.
Andronikou believes if the League does take that course of action, it will make the Portsmouth squad non-competitive and could affect the credibility of the remainder of the season as Pompey may yet impact on the relegation battle, the title race and issues such as qualification for Europe.
The administrator has informed the players he will make a personal plea to the Premier League this week because, under current circumstances, Andronikou believes a points penalty "could be a mistake".
"I met the players on Friday, and it was an amazing get together where I got the message that they believe they can still avoid relegation, and they want a crack at it," Andronikou told Soccernet. "My message to them was that they need to continue to let me worry about the finances and not let those problems wander into the dressing room, that for God's sake go and play for the club and forget everything that is happening off the field.
"The feedback was highly positive. The players remain fully focused, not just for the league where they feel they still have a chance for survival, but also in the FA Cup. They are highly motivated to continue their impressive run in the FA Cup.
"In the league the attitude remains 'let's go and show them' and I am sure you will see that reaction at Liverpool. For that reason I believe they remain highly motivated for the game at Liverpool, but if the Premier League dock the nine points after this game, it will have a harmful effect. It is bound to.
"If they lost the nine points it will be a massive blow to them; it will be a crushing psychological blow and it must determine how they will perform for the remainder of the season. Surely, the competitiveness of the Premier League is crucial, and we have reached the most important part of the season - the final ten games. The whole of the league could be distorted, certainly the key issue of relegation and who wins the league could be compromised.
"The players must have the incentive to play their hearts out for all the points still at stake, still believing they can survive relegation. They believe it still, and they will play against Liverpool as if they still believe it. How can they be expected to believe it if the nine points are docked?
"It is the first time the Premier League will be taking this action, and it could be a mistake. It will set the precedent, and it would be the wrong precedent, so they need to think very carefully.
"The players are naturally concerned about their careers, and they want to go out and win every game, but why should they risk leg and limb if they are already relegated?
"I fully appreciate and understand the Premier League's predicament, but my job is to protect the club, first and foremost. For that reason I can see that the club might have to take its medicine and the nine points, but there are the other clubs who might want to stop and think about the effect this will have. Other clubs have their financial problems, so they simply cannot point an accusing finger at Portsmouth."
Portsmouth will return to the high court on Tuesday where Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs will officially accept their move into administration.
The crisis club escaped being wound up last Thursday after HMRC abandoned their claim owner Balram Chainrai did not have the legal right to put the club into administration.