The Sweeper: Peter Storrie Isn’t the Real Story

Big Story

The "e-nail" in question.

Portsmouth FC‘s chief executive Peter Storrie stepped down yesterday, following Pompey’s administration and a possible nine-point deduction that would make the prospect of a financially-disastrous relegation from the Premier League a near-certainty.  Storrie told reporters yesterday that he felt he had been made “a scapegoat” for the club’s money problems, leading to the winding-up order by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and administration:

Announcing his decision on ESPN, Storrie said: “It is best that I walk away for the sake of the club as well as my family and friends. Despite working non-stop to try to keep this club alive for the last 14 months, they need someone to blame, and there is nobody left to blame but me.

“It is not fair on my friends and family. I can’t take it any more, taking all the stick on my own, so I have decided to quit.”

Football is a game of personalities, and while it’s hard to have much sympathy for the embattled former chief exec (he took what some viewed as insufficiently sacrifical 40% pay cut while 85 Portsmouth FC staff were made redundant), he indirectly makes a good point.  As the Times article points out, it was only the beginning of this season that fans were chanting his name under the benign perception of his initial work at Pompey in reaction to the club’s emerging debt problems.  The shift from hero to villain over the course of this year indicates in part the difficulty on the part of fans in according blame among the confusing collage of shadowy figures in power behind Portsmouth’s gross financial mismanagement.

Ultimately, no one personality bears the weight of blame for Pompey’s woes, and as an Independent article illustrated a couple of weeks ago, many English clubs are only a few managerial missteps away from a fate similar to Portsmouth’s.  Yet it seems the populist tabloids are running at the shifty Peter Storrie with great gusto.  The Sun proclaimed today it had “e-nailed” Storrie by printing an email that sort of, maybe implicates the chief exec with an inappropriate payment £86 000 to Frederic Piquionne’s agent, Willie McKay.

Even if proven, in the big scheme of things, a proposed payment to a player agent of £86 000, violating the FA’s strict new guidelines,  is but a sniffle compared to the plague of debt and player inflation wrought by free-wheeling private investment in English clubs.  But the press love a good villain, and it appears Storrie will do, for now.

Quick Hits

  • And if you want to get a sense of how pervasive shifty third-party player transfer payment arrangements have become, Brian Simpson focuses on FIFA’s “…introduction of a new web-based system for registering transfers – the Transfer Matching System (TMS)….Essentially, all the details of a transfer are entered onto the TMS website by the buying and selling clubs – contracts, player IDs, all fees, payments to agents and verifiable proof of payment – and when the details match the transfer is approved. The new system will become mandatory from October 1 this year, with 144 of the 208 national associations already signed up.”
  • Alan Smith makes the dubious claim that the threat of a 40% relegation pay cut clause has been successful in motivating Sunderland to stave off relegation.  His evidence?  Sunderland’s 4-0 defeat of Bolton on Tuesday.  They’re currently five points above the drop-zone with an -8 goal differential there, Alan.  The clause has been in the Sunderland contracts for awhile now.
  • And on the MLS CBA front, the Toronto Star‘s Chris Young posits that “…the most obvious point has been hammered down again and again: In a World Cup year in which U.S. television and the general public will be footycentric like never before, how stupid would these people look, and how damning an indictment of their big-league hopes and dreams would it be for them to fail at the bargaining table?”  My advice is to leave that question to the MLS bloggers in a hermeneutic death struggle over the meaning of tiny scraps of player quotes and Mark Abbot union negotiation updates.