Portsmouth F.C.

Coordinates: 50°47′47″N 1°3′50″W / 50.79639°N 1.06389°W / 50.79639; -1.06389
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Portsmouth
Full namePortsmouth Football Club
Nickname(s)Pompey, The Blues
Founded5 April 1898; 126 years ago (1898-04-05) as "Portsmouth Football and Athletic Company Limited"
GroundFratton Park
Capacity20,899
Coordinates50°47′47″N 1°3′50″W / 50.79639°N 1.06389°W / 50.79639; -1.06389
Owner-ChairmanMichael Eisner
Chief ExecutiveAndrew Cullen
Head CoachJohn Mousinho
LeagueEFL League One
2022–23EFL League One, 8th of 24
WebsiteClub website
Current season

Portsmouth Football Club is a professional association football club based in Portsmouth, Hampshire, England. The team competes in the EFL League One, the third level of the English football league system. They are also known as Pompey, a local nickname used by both His Majesty's Naval Base, Portsmouth and the city of Portsmouth.

Founded on 5 April 1898, Portsmouth began their early history in the Southern and Western leagues, before being elected into the English Football League in 1920. Portsmouth won two promotions in 1924 and 1927 to reach the First Division, becoming the first football club south of London to do so.

After finishing runners-up in two FA Cup finals in 1929 and 1934, Portsmouth won for the first time in 1939. Portsmouth won the top-flight First Division titles twice in successive 1948–49 and 1949–50 seasons. However, their 32 consecutive years in the First Division ended with relegation in 1959 and was followed by a further relegation in 1961.

In 1978, Portsmouth were relegated to the fourth tier for the first time before earning three promotions in 1980, 1983 and 1987. After a brief spell in the top-flight, Portsmouth would remain in the second tier from 1988 until 2003. After winning promotion, they spent seven years in the Premier League and won the FA Cup for a second time in 2008.

Relegation from the Premier League in 2009–10 signalled the beginning of a difficult period where the club entered financial administration twice and were relegated three times. After the club was purchased by the Pompey Supporters Trust in 2013, Pompey would begin to recover financially as well as winning the League Two title in 2016–17.

Portsmouth are one of only five English football clubs to have been champions of all four tiers of the professional English football pyramid. Portsmouth's arch-rivals are Southampton, a rivalry based in part on geographic proximity and both cities' respective maritime histories.

History[edit]

1898–1920: founding of Portsmouth F.C. and early years[edit]

12 High Street, Old Portsmouth
A Blue Plaque on the wall of 12 High Street, Old Portsmouth (Alderman John E. Pink's solicitors' office building) commemorates the founding on 5 April 1898.

Portsmouth F.C. were formed on 5 April 1898, at 12 High Street, Old Portsmouth, as "The Portsmouth Football and Athletic Company", with John Brickwood as chairman. Although the founding of Portsmouth F.C. had been agreed on 5 April 1898, a football ground or a team of players did not exist until 1899.

In 1899, work began on developing a plot of former agricultural land near Goldsmith Avenue, Milton, Portsmouth into a new football ground, bought in 1898 from the local Goldsmith farming family. The new football ground was to be named Fratton Park after the nearby and convenient Fratton railway station. Frank Brettell was announced as Portsmouth Football Club's first manager-secretary in February 1899. [1][2] A bold and ambitious application for Portsmouth's direct entry into the Southern League First Division, without the usual probationary period in the lower divisions, was accepted,[3] and the club joined the Southern Football League Division One for the 1899–1900 season. The Southern League were very keen to see a professional team from Portsmouth join the Southern League.[1]

On 6 September 1899, the first-ever home match at Fratton Park was played; a friendly against local team Southampton, which Portsmouth won 2–0.[4] Portsmouth's first competitive Southern League home match followed on 9 September, a 2–0 win against Reading.[5] Portsmouth's first 1899–1900 season in the Southern Football League Division One was successful, with the club winning 20 out of 28 league matches, earning them the runner-up spot in the table behind champions, Tottenham Hotspur.

In their second 1900–01 Southern Football League Division One season, Portsmouth finished in third place and joined the 1900–01 Western Football League, where they finished as Division One champions.[6] Portsmouth won the 1901–02 Southern Football League championship title but were not promoted. In the 1901–02 Western Football League, Portsmouth also won the Division One championship for a second consecutive season.[6] In the 1902–03 Western Football League, Portsmouth won the Division One championship for a third consecutive season.[6]

In the 1906–07 Western Football League, the top Division One was split into equal 'A' and 'B' sections, with a play-off between the two section winners to decide a Division One champion. The 1906–07 season was highlighted by the visit of Manchester United to Fratton Park in the FA Cup, which generated a record attendance of 24,329. A 2–2 draw meant a replay in Manchester, where Portsmouth recorded a famous 2–1 win.

In their last Western Football League appearance, Portsmouth finished in fourth position of the 'B' section of Division One. At the end of the season, all fourteen members of the split 'A' and 'B' sections of Division One resigned from the Western Football League. Portsmouth ended their season in sixth place before the following season saw the team relegated. A severe financial crisis struck between seasons and a public appeal for funds in May 1911 kept the club afloat.[7]

With the recruitment of manager Robert Brown from Sheffield Wednesday the team finished second place in the 1911–12 Southern Football League Division Two and were promoted as runners-up. However, the club's finances were in trouble again, with losses and debts increasing to £10,000.[7] A shareholders meeting was called on 8 May 1912, where George Lewin Oliver, one of the original founders and directors, proposed that "The Portsmouth Football and Athletic Company" should be wound up and replaced with a more business orientated company. The original company was then liquidated to remove the debt and on 27 July 1912, the "Portsmouth Football Company Ltd" was formed as the new parent company of Portsmouth F.C., with substantial financial guarantees given by the board of directors. The original 1898 founding director George Lewin Oliver became the new Portsmouth F.C. chairman.[8]

For the new 1912–13 Southern Football League season back in Division One, Portsmouth, now under new ownership, wore new home colours of blue shirts, white shorts and black stockings.[9] Portsmouth finished the season in 11th position. Football was suspended during the First World War. Many with connections to Portsmouth F.C. joined the "Pompey Pals Battalions", which formed parts of the Hampshire Regiment, many never returned home.[10] In 1915, the Fratton End terrace was upgraded to accommodate 8,000 standing supporters and covered with a roof for the first time.[11][better source needed][12] Following the resumption of matches in the 1919–20 season, Portsmouth won the Southern League championship for the second time. Portsmouth were then elected to the Football League Third Division as founder members.

Chart of table positions for Portsmouth since joining the Football League.

1920–1939: establishment in Football League, FA Cup triumph[edit]

Competing in the Football League Third Division, Portsmouth claimed the title in the 1923–24 season. Debuting in the second division for the first time, they finished in fourth place. Portsmouth won promotion to the First Division by finishing runners-up in the 1926–27 season and in the process, recording their club record win in a 9–1 victory over Notts County.

Portsmouth's debut season in the 1927–28 First Division was a struggle, finishing one point and one place above relegation. The next 1928–29 season in the First Division, Portsmouth continued to falter, losing 10–0 away at Filbert Street to Leicester City, the club's record away defeat. Despite their failings in the league, Portsmouth reach the FA Cup Final for the first time, which they lost to Bolton Wanderers.[13] Portsmouth managed to survive relegation, finishing one place above relegation.

From 1929 to 1934, Portsmouth had become a regular top-half table finisher in the First Division. The 1933–34 season saw Portsmouth again reach the FA Cup final for a second time but lost to Manchester City. Halfway through the 1934–35 season, the original 1898 founding director and later Portsmouth chairman, George Lewin Oliver died.[14] The ground's capacity was extended to more than 58,000.[15] Having established themselves in the top flight, the 1938–39 season saw Portsmouth reach the FA Cup final. This was indeed third time lucky, as Portsmouth managed to defeat favourites Wolverhampton Wanderers 4–1.[16] Bert Barlow and John 'Jock' Anderson scored, whilst Cliff Parker scored twice (third and fourth goals). The start of World War II in 1939 resulted in the suspension of the FA Cup competition for the duration, so Portsmouth held the trophy until it resumed in 1945-1946.

The new 1939–40 season was cut short with the start of World War Two. However, football competitions did take place during the war, with the Football League being split into ten regional mini leagues, with Portsmouth in 'League South' along with an annual national cup competition, the Football League War Cup. In 1942, Portsmouth reached the London War Cup final.[17] The London War Cup competition required Portsmouth, the current FA Cup champions, to secede from the Football Association to enter. Portsmouth progressed to the 1942 London War Cup final at Wembley Stadium, but were beaten by Brentford.

During his wartime visits to Portsmouth, Field Marshal Montgomery became interested in Portsmouth Football Club and was made honorary President of Portsmouth F.C. in 1944 (until 1961).[18] The end of World War II in 1945 resulted in Portsmouth having held the FA Cup trophy for the longest uninterrupted period of seven years. Manager Jack Tinn was rumoured to have kept the FA Cup trophy 'safe under his bed' during part of the war. As the navy city of Portsmouth was a primary strategic military target for German Luftwaffe bombing, the FA Cup trophy was routinely moved around the city of Portsmouth for its protection.

1946–1959: post-war years, champions of England[edit]

FA Cup competition was resumed for the 1945–46 season, but the resumption of the Football League had to wait one more year. The Football League finally resumed in 1946–47. Portsmouth had capitalised on the footballers called up to serve in the Royal Navy and Royal Marines in the war years and recruited some of them.

In the 1948–49 season, Bob Jackson's Portsmouth side were tipped to be the first team of the 20th century to win a historic Football League and FA Cup "double" which helped attract average home attendances of 36,000 supporters, and a record attendance of 51,385 in an FA Cup quarter-final match against Derby County before a defeat in the semi-final against Leicester City. Portsmouth however, did win the First Division title. Bob Jackson's Portsmouth side beat Aston Villa 5–1 on the last day of the following 1949–50 season, winning the Football League title again for a second consecutive season – on goal average – as both Portsmouth and runners up Wolverhampton Wanderers finished the season with the same points tally. In the following 1950–51 season, Portsmouth finished in 7th position. Eddie Lever took over at Pompey in 1952 after championship-winning manager Bob Jackson joined Hull City. After narrowly avoiding relegation in previous seasons, Portsmouth finished bottom of the First Division at the end of the 1958–59 season, ending their 32-year stay in the First Division

1959–1979: decline and relegation to the Fourth Division[edit]

After another poor season, they escaped a further relegation to the Third Division only by 2 points and finishing only one place above the relegation zone. In the 1960–61 season Portsmouth finished second-to-last place in the Second Division relegation zone and were relegated once again to the Third Division. Under the guidance of George Smith, Portsmouth were promoted back to the Second Division at the first time of asking, winning the Third Division title.

Despite limited financial means, manager George Smith maintained Portsmouth's Second Division status throughout the rest of the 1960s until Smith was replaced by Ron Tindall in April 1970. The cash injection that accompanied the arrival of John Deacon as chairman in 1972 failed to improve Portsmouth's Second Division position. With Deacon unable to continue bankrolling the club on the same scale, Portsmouth finished bottom of the Second Division in the 1975–76 season and were relegated down to the Third Division.

In November of the 1976–77 Third Division season, the club found itself needing to raise £25,000 to pay off debts and so avoid bankruptcy.[citation needed] With players having to be sold to ease the club's financial situation, and no money available for replacements, Portsmouth were forced to rely on inexperienced young players. They ended the 1976–77 season only one place and one point above the Third Division's relegation zone. They were relegated at the end of the new 1977–78 season, finishing in bottom place. In the 1978–79 Fourth Division season, Portsmouth finished in 7th position. Jimmy Dickinson suffered a heart attack near the end of the season and after the season in May 1979, was replaced by Frank Burrows.

1979–1987: return to the First Division[edit]

Under Frank Burrows new management, Portsmouth gained promotion back to the Third Division after finishing in 4th place in the 1979–80 season. Portsmouth would take three seasons before in 1983, Portsmouth claimed their Third Division championship title, gaining promotion back into the Second Division.

In the 1983–84 Second Division season, Portsmouth finished sixteenth place in the table. After the season, Bobby Campbell was replaced by former England World Cup winner, Alan Ball on 11 May 1984. Under Ball, Portsmouth's results markedly improved and they narrowly missed winning promotion to the First Division in the 1984–85 season. In Ball's third season as Portsmouth manager in the 1986–87 Second Division season, Portsmouth finished as runners-up behind Derby County, gaining promotion back to the First Division for the first time since the 1958–59 season.

By the middle of the new 1987–88 First Division season, the club was again in financial trouble with the ground in a poor condition. Portsmouth were relegated straight back down to the Second Division. The summer of 1988 saw chairman John Deacon sell the club to London-based businessman and former Queens Park Rangers chairman, Jim Gregory.

1988–2003: second tier[edit]

Halfway through the season, Alan Ball was sacked on 17 January 1989 and replaced by John Gregory. The club's parent company had a name change from 'Portsmouth Football Company Limited' to 'Portsmouth Football Club Limited' on 23 January 1989.[19] Portsmouth ended the season only two places above the relegation zone.

Jim Smith's arrival as manager at the start of the 1991–92 season sparked a revival in the team's fortunes and that year Portsmouth reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup, but lost the replay to Liverpool on penalties.[citation needed] The 1992–93 Football League season saw a major restructuring of the English football "pyramid" system, with the new FA Premier League becoming the new first tier and the First Division becoming the second tier. Therefore, Portsmouth played in the new "First Division" but missed out on automatic promotion by virtue of scoring only one fewer goal than second-placed West Ham United. In the subsequent promotion play-offs, Portsmouth lost 3–2 on aggregate to Leicester City.

In 1994–95, Jim Smith was sacked on 1 February 1995 and was replaced by Terry Fenwick, who guided them to safety with 4 wins in their final 6 league games. In the 1995–96 season, relegation to the Second Division was avoided on the last day of the season (on goal difference) when Portsmouth won away at Huddersfield Town while other results went the club's way. Terry Venables took over as chairman in February 1997 after buying a 51 per cent controlling share in the club for £1.[20] Two-thirds of the way through the 1997–98 season, Venables and manager Terry Fenwick left the club, with Portsmouth on the bottom of the table, and Venables selling his shareholding back to Martin Gregory, son of former chairman Jim Gregory. Alan Ball then returned as manager for the second time on 26 January 1998. Relegation to the third tier was avoided on the last day of the season – by 1 point.

Portsmouth's centenary season, 1998–99, saw a financial crisis hit the club, and in December 1998 Portsmouth went into financial administration.[21] Serbian-born US businessman Milan Mandarić was persuaded by his friend George Best to invest in an English football club; Mandaric decided to buy Portsmouth in May 1999.[22] Alan Ball was sacked on 9 December 1999 during the 1999–2000 season with the club near the bottom of the table. Tony Pulis steered the club to safety. Portsmouth escaped relegation on the last day of the 2000–01 season when they won their final game and Huddersfield Town lost theirs, keeping Portsmouth up at their expense.[23] A week before the new season began, 25-year-old Portsmouth goalkeeper Aaron Flahavan was killed in a car crash on 5 August 2001 with the club retiring his number 1 shirt for the season. Harry Redknapp became manager in 2002. After a 17th place finish, he led Pompey to the First Division title in 2002–03, after an absence of fifteen seasons from the first tier.[24]

2003–2010: Premier League[edit]

In Portsmouth's Premiership debut season in 2003–04, the partnership of Harry Redknapp and Jim Smith resulted in a 13th place final position at the end of the season. Almost halfway through the following 2004–05 season in the Premiership, Harry Redknapp unexpectedly walked out on Portsmouth on 24 November 2004 after a row with chairman Milan Mandarić over the appointment of new Director of Football Velimir Zajec at the club and later joined Southampton. [25] Zajec then replaced Redknapp as Portsmouth manager, but in April 2005, Zajec was replaced by Frenchman Alain Perrin. Perrin managed to secure Portsmouth's Premiership status with a few games of the season left.

During the 2005–06 season, Alain Perrin was sacked with Harry Redknapp then making a surprise return to manage Portsmouth again after leaving relegated Southampton. In January 2006, Portsmouth were sold by Milan Mandarić and bought by businessman Alexandre Gaydamak. The club survived their third season in the Premier League one place above the relegation zone in 17th position. With large amounts of money available for Redknapp to make record signings, the club finished the 2006–07 season in the top half of the table for the first time since their promotion, in ninth position.

Portsmouth won the FA Cup for the second time in 2008
The scoreboard at the end of the 2008 FA Cup final, in which Portsmouth beat Cardiff City 1–0

The following 2007–08 season, Portsmouth finished eighth in the Premier League and reached the FA Cup final for the first time since 1939 after defeating Championship side West Brom in the semi-finals. On 17 May 2008, Portsmouth played Cardiff City in the FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium. Portsmouth won 1–0, with Nwankwo Kanu scoring the only goal.

International strikers Peter Crouch and Nwankwo Kanu kick off for Portsmouth in their UEFA Cup match against Milan

The FA Cup win had also earned Portsmouth a place in the 2008–09 UEFA Cup, the club's first time playing European football. On 25 October 2008, Redknapp left Portsmouth for a second time, leaving his assistant Tony Adams to be promoted to the managerial role. On 27 November 2008, Portsmouth drew 2–2 with AC Milan, going 2–0 up, but conceding two goals later in the game. Adams was dismissed in February 2009.[26] Youth team coach Paul Hart took over as manager until the end of the season, eventually finishing in 14th place. On 26 May, Portsmouth accepted a bid from Emirati businessman Sulaiman Al Fahim to purchase the club.[27]

Because of the financial problems suffered by the club, Portsmouth were forced to sell several of their top players and high earners, including Peter Crouch, Sylvain Distin, Glen Johnson and Niko Kranjčar. On 21 July 2009, Al Fahim was appointed non-executive chairman of Portsmouth. On 19 August 2009, Portsmouth announced on their website that a rival consortium headed by current CEO Peter Storrie had also made a bid for the club; unknown at the time, this was backed by Ali al-Faraj. Despite this, Al Fahim completed the takeover on 26 August 2009; al Faraj moved to review a takeover of West Ham United.

As the early stages of the 2009–10 season progressed, the finances dried up and the club admitted on 1 October that some of their players and staff had not been paid. On 3 October, media outlets started to report that a deal was nearing completion for Ali al-Faraj to take control of the club. On 5 October, a deal was agreed for al-Faraj and his associates, via BVI-registered company Falcondrone, to hold a 90% majority holding, with Al-Fahim retaining 10% stake and the title of non-executive chairman for two years.[28][29] Falcondrone also agreed a deal with Alexandre Gaydamak the right to buy, for £1, Miland Development (2004) Ltd., which owns various strategic pockets of land around the ground, once refinancing was complete.[30] Because of the financial difficulties, the Premier League placed the club under a transfer embargo.

Avram Grant took over at Portsmouth on 26 November 2009, following the dismissal of Hart.[31] HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) filed a winding-up petition against Portsmouth at the High Court of Justice on 23 December 2009.[32] In March 2010, this winding-up petition was dropped,[33] leaving Portsmouth with a nine-point penalty for entering administration.[34]

2010–2017: administration, FA Cup final appearance and relegations[edit]

During the 2009–10 season, it had become apparent to the club's new owner Balram Chainrai that Portsmouth were approximately £135 million in debt[35] so to protect the club from liquidation, Chainrai placed the club into administration on 26 February 2010, and the club appointed Andrew Andronikou, Peter Kubik and Michael Kiely of accountancy firm UHY Hacker Young as administrators. This automatically incurred a nine-point penalty from the Premier League which came into effect on 17 March and consigned the team to almost certain relegation, which was mathematically confirmed on 10 April 2010 after West Ham won.[36]

Portsmouth won their FA Cup semi-final match against Tottenham 2–0 after extra-time the next day and faced Chelsea in the final at Wembley on 15 May 2010 but lost 1–0 to a goal from Didier Drogba. Despite being the FA Cup finalists, the club were denied a licence to play European football the following season in the UEFA Europa League.[37] On 17 June, the club's creditors voted for a company voluntary arrangement (CVA), with an 81.3% majority;[38] HMRC, Paul Hart and the agent of Portsmouth midfielder Tommy Smith were the only ones to reject it, but HMRC appealed against the CVA due to the reduction of its considerable debt.[39] On 15 July 2010, HMRC appealed against the proposed CVA on the last day before it would be formally agreed,[40] the case was originally going to take place in October 2010, but after an appeal from the administrators at the club it was set for 3 August at the High Court in London. The case was heard by Mr Justice Mann from 3 to 5 August where, having heard submissions from both sides, he turned down HMRC's appeal on all five counts it had put forward. HMRC decided not to appeal against the verdict, leaving Portsmouth's administrators to formally agree the CVA and bring the club out of administration.[41] On 17 August, Balram Chainrai completed his takeover of the club and passed the owners' and directors' fit and proper person test.

On 22 October 2010, Portsmouth issued a statement saying, "It appears likely that the club will now be closed down and liquidated by the administrators,"[42] but key creditor Alexandre Gaydamak announced the next day that he had reached an agreement which could save their future.[43] It was revealed just hours later that Portsmouth had finally come out of administration, with Balram Chainrai regaining control of the company.[44] On 1 June 2011, Convers Sports Initiatives (CSI) owned by Russian Vladimir Antonov completed its takeover of the club, although an arrest warrant would later be issued for him in November 2011 following allegations of asset stripping.[45][46] Antonov was subsequently arrested at his offices in London on 24 November and was bailed.[47] He shortly afterwards resigned as chairman of Portsmouth after parent company CSI entered administration.[48] On 24 January 2012, Portsmouth were issued with a winding up petition by HMRC for over £1.6 million in unpaid taxes, which was heard on 20 February.[49] On 17 February 2012, Portsmouth went into administration for the second time in two years, bringing them an automatic 10-point deduction.[50][51] On 11 April 2012, reports from administrators PKF revealed that Portsmouth owed £58 million with £38 million being owed to UHY Hacker Young, £10.5 million investment made by Vladimir Antonov's CSI remained outstanding, players were due £3.5 million in wages and bonuses for the last two seasons, while £2.3 million was owed to HMRC and, additionally, £3.7 million was owed for general trade.[52] On 21 April, Portsmouth were relegated from the Championship after a 2–1 loss to Derby County, the first time in 30 years that the club had played at that level.

Following Pompey's relegation to League One, the entire professional playing squad left the club.[53] The team were given a 10-point deduction in December 2012 for their financial issues.[54] On 9 November 2012, Chanrai halted his attempt to buy the club.[55] Six days later, the Pompey Supporters Trust signed a conditional agreement with PFK to buy the club.[56] The club went on a record winless run of 23 matches during the season.[57] On 10 April 2013, a deal with administrators was reached,[58] although the Pompey Supporters' Trust had not yet finalised the purchase.[59] Portsmouth were relegated again at the end of the season.[60] On 19 April 2013, Portsmouth exited administration when the Pompey Supporters' Trust (PST) deal to buy the club was completed.[61]

The 2013–14 season was also a turbulent one for Pompey with a high turnover of managers. With the club in serious danger of relegation to non-League, Andy Awford was again made caretaker manager and guided the club away from the drop.[62][63] In a historic announcement on 29 September 2014, the club was able to declare itself debt-free after paying back all creditors and legacy payments to ex-players.[64] Following an unsuccessful 2014–15 campaign, Paul Cook was appointed new manager of Portsmouth on 12 May 2015.[65]

Following an unsuccessful play-off attempt in the previous season,[66] Paul Cook's side secured promotion to League One in 2016–17 with a 3–1 win away at Notts County.[67] On the final day of the season, Portsmouth reached the top the table for the first time in the season following a 6–1 home win against Cheltenham Town and were crowned champions of League Two.[68] However, Paul Cook resigned on 31 May 2017 to join Wigan Athletic.[69]

2017–present[edit]

In May 2017, the Pompey Supporters' Trust (PST) voted in favour of a proposed bid by The Tornante Company, headed by former Disney chief executive Michael Eisner, to take over the club which was completed on 3 August 2017.[70] Portsmouth ended their first season back in League One in 8th position on 66 points, missing out on the play-off places.[6] On 31 March 2019, Portsmouth met Sunderland in the 2019 EFL Trophy final at Wembley Stadium. The match finished 2–2 after extra time, with Pompey winning 5–4 on penalties.[71] Portsmouth finished 4th and qualified for the play-offs but lost 1–0 on aggregate to Sunderland.[72]

During the 2019–20 season, Portsmouth achieved a winning run of nine consecutive matches in all competitions, setting a new win record for the club since Portsmouth joined the Football League in 1920.[73] Portsmouth were due to return to Wembley Stadium to defend the EFL Trophy as champions against Salford City on 5 April 2020, however, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the suspension of the season on 13 March.[74][75] On 9 June 2020, the football clubs of EFL League One (and EFL League Two) voted to end the season early on a points-per-game calculation which meant Pompey finished 5th.[76] This meant a behind closed doors play-off tie against Oxford United. After two legs a penalty shoot-out was needed to settle the 2–2 aggregate tie, which Oxford won 5–4.[77]

Portsmouth's fourth-successive season in League One began behind closed doors due to the ongoing pandemic.[78] COVID-19 'social-distancing' restrictions were partially relaxed in December 2020 when 2,000 Portsmouth fans were permitted to return to Fratton Park on 5 December for a fixture against Peterborough United.[79] The delayed 2020 EFL Trophy final was eventually played behind closed doors at Wembley Stadium on 13 March 2021, with Portsmouth losing 4–2 on penalties to Salford City after a 0–0 draw.[80] Pompey finished just outside the play-off places in 2020–21, 2021–22 and 2022–23.[6]

Club identity[edit]

Club badge[edit]

Flag of the City of Portsmouth

Although Portsmouth F.C. were formed in 1898, the club did not have a club badge until one was introduced for the 1913–14 season. The official Coat of Arms of the City of Portsmouth contains an eight pointed gold star and crescent moon on a blue shield, Portsmouth's adoption of the star and crescent is said to have come from when King Richard I (1157–1189), who granted the city "a crescent of gold on a shade of azure, with a blazing star of eight points" which he had taken from the Byzantine Emperor's standard of Governor Isaac Komnenos, after capturing Cyprus.

The first 1913 Portsmouth F.C. badge was based on official symbols belonging to the town council of Portsmouth, which featured a golden eight-pointed star and a golden crescent moon. The club's first badge featured a horizontally elongated white crescent moon beneath a white five pointed star, with both symbols positioned in the centre of a blue four pointed shield. Portsmouth town council bestowed the privileged use (but not ownership) of their moon and star motifs to Portsmouth F.C., albeit with some colour and design changes.[9]

Throughout their history Portsmouth F.C. have tried different variations of the badge. After World War II, Portsmouth began using an eight-pointed star to match that used by the city of Portsmouth.[81] In the 1950s and 1960s, the traditional badge was emblazoned on the shirt in white rather than gold but this was due to white being a cheaper alternative to a more expensive gold coloured thread. Between 1980 and 1989, Portsmouth scrapped their traditional star and crescent badge and replaced it with an entirely new design. This badge showed a football in front of an anchor (representing the Royal Navy) and a sword (representing the British Army), with the whole design surrounded by an outer ring of ships rope. An alternative version included a circular version of the traditional star and crescent badge in place of the football.

During 1989 and 1993, the sword and anchor badge was dropped replaced with a simpler eight pointed star and crescent moon on a long narrow shield.[82] From 1993 until 1997, the 1989–93 long narrow shield design was replaced by an embroidered badge of the city of Portsmouth Coat of Arms.[82][83] The 1993–97 city arms badge was replaced in 1997, with an eight pointed gold star and a golden crescent moon on a blue shield edged with a gold outer rim. This new badge coincided with the centennial anniversary in the 1997–98 season.

On 6 May 2008, Portsmouth revealed a new badge with "three points" at the top of the shield were replaced with two straightened angles, with "Portsmouth F.C." written above the star on the shield.[84] The traditional elongated crescent moon was replaced with a new circular one, which closely resembled that on the city's Coat of Arms. The new badge had its debut in the 2008 FA Cup final, in which Portsmouth also wore a new 110th Anniversary all-blue commemorative home strip. As part of the World War I Centennial Commemorations in the 2014–15 season, the club opted to temporarily replace the badge with a more traditional badge. In June 2015, Portsmouth reverted the official club badge back to a traditional design.

On 4 May 2017, during a meeting between the Tornante Company the Supporters Trust, the prospective new owners identified a long overlooked ownership and copyright issue concerning the traditional Portsmouth badge – Portsmouth Football Club did not legally "own" the symbols on the badge, which had actually only been "on loan" to the club from Portsmouth City Council since 1913.[85][better source needed] On 15 March 2018, two newly redesigned club badges were finally revealed ahead of the 2018–19 season (one for players' shirts and the other for commercial purposes).[86]

Home colours[edit]

In the 1899–1900 season, Portsmouth's first home colours were salmon pink shirts with maroon collars and cuffs, matched with white shorts and black socks. The pink shirts gave the early Portsmouth F.C. the alternative second nickname of 'The Shrimps'. The collars and cuffs were the same colour as the Corporation of Portsmouth's public trams, which were painted maroon at the time.[81] These colours lasted until the end of the 1908–09 season. At the start of the 1909–10 season, Portsmouth changed to white shirts with navy blue shorts and navy blue socks.

For the start of the 1912–13 Southern League Division One season, Portsmouth changed their home colours to azure blue shirts, white shorts and black socks. This was to become Portsmouth's home kit colour combination up until the start of the 1933–34 season, when the shirts were changed to a royal blue.[87] These colours remained until the start of the 1947–48 season, when the black socks were changed to red; this coinciding with the club's most successful period and has remained the favoured colours for the majority of the time since.[88] Portsmouth F.C. changed their colour combination several times during the 1966–1976 period, before reverting to the now tradition post-war blue shirts, white shorts and red stockings in 1976.[81] For the club's 110th anniversary season in 2008–09, Portsmouth played in an all blue home kit, which debuted in the previous season's successful 2008 FA Cup final win.[81] Since the 2009–10 season, Portsmouth reverted to the now traditional blue-white-red home kit.

Red socks memorial[edit]

Sir Bernard 'Monty' Montgomery

Portsmouth had predominantly worn black socks since their first match in 1899. During the Second World War and post-war periods, the British Army's Field Marshal Sir Bernard 'Monty' Montgomery had been based at Southwick House, 5 miles to the north of Portsmouth. Montgomery regularly attended Pompey matches at Fratton Park, becoming the honorary President of Portsmouth Football Club. Following the suggestion by Montgomery, red socks were introduced by the club as a memorial to soldiers lost in wartime as red is the traditional colour of the British Army and also the colour of the Remembrance poppy.[89][90] This also gave the Portsmouth team a patriotic blue, white and red appearance similar to the United Kingdom's red white and blue Union Flag. The new red socks also coincided with Portsmouth's most successful period, so the red socks were retained for good luck.[citation needed]

Away colours[edit]

The most frequent away colours used by Portsmouth have been white shirts with royal or navy blue shorts and either blue or white socks.[9]

Other historic kits[edit]

For the 2008 FA Cup final victory against Cardiff City, Portsmouth debuted an all blue home kit manufactured by Canterbury and sponsored by Oki Printing Solutions to commemorate the club's 110th Anniversary year. The all blue home kit was also used throughout the following 2008–09 season.[81]

Portsmouth again reached the FA Cup final in 2010, but were defeated 1–0 by Chelsea. Portsmouth, as the away team, wore a white and maroon kit inspired from elements of the original "Shrimps" era (1899–1909) kit in which maroon collars and cuffs featured on the salmon pink home shirts.

Kit manufacturers and sponsors[edit]

Source:[91]
Years Manufacturers Shirt sponsors
1976–1977 Umbro No sponsors
1978–1980 Admiral
1980–1983 Gola
1983–1984 Le Coq Sportif
1985–1987 Umbro
1987–1989 Admiral South Coast Fiat (First seen in December 1987)
1989–1991 Scoreline Goodmans
1991–1993 Influence
1993–1995 ASICS
1995–1997 The News
1997–1999 Admiral KJC Mobile Phones
1999–2000 Pompey Sport 1 The Pompey Centre
2000–2002 Bishop's Printers
2002–2005 TY Europe
2005–2007 Jako OKI
2007–2009 Canterbury
2009–2010 Jobsite.co.uk
2010–2011 Kappa
2011–2013
2013–2018 Sondico
2018–present Nike University of Portsmouth

1 Portsmouth's own manufacturer.

"Pompey" nickname[edit]

The traditional nickname of the Portsmouth Football Club is Pompey, a nickname already long associated with the English city of Portsmouth and its Royal Navy base. An exact origin for the Pompey nickname has never formally been identified by historians, as many variations and interpretations of the Pompey nickname exist.

Ground[edit]

The entrance to Fratton Park's South Stand, with its mock Tudor facade

Portsmouth play their home games at Fratton Park, in the Portsmouth suburb of Milton. The football ground has been home to the club throughout its entire history. The football ground was formerly the site of a potato field in 1898 when it was purchased by the newly-formed Portsmouth Football & Athletic Company.

Fratton Park was designed and completed during 1899 by local architect Arthur Cogswell, and was first opened to the public on 15 August 1899. The early Fratton Park of 1899 only had one roofed all-seat stand on the pitch's southern side. The first ever football match to take place at Fratton Park was a friendly against Southampton, played on 6 September 1899, with Portsmouth winning 2–0. The first competitive match at Fratton Park was played three days later on 9 September 1899; a Southern League Division One match against Reading, which Portsmouth also won 2–0.

In 1905, the club expanded Fratton Park, adding a mock Tudor style club pavilion to the south-west corner in Frogmore Road, a pavilion designed by architect Arthur Cogswell. The pavilion originally featured a tall octagonal clock tower spire on its north-east corner, with an upper viewing gallery built beneath it giving an unobscured view over the entire Fratton Park pitch. In addition, two new solid earthbank terraces, topped with cinders and wooden planking were built behind the two goal ends. They were initially known as the Fratton Railway End and Milton End (or Spion Kop) and were built behind the west and east end goal lines respectively.

The pavilion's clock tower was demolished in the 1920s as the South Stand was partially built into the pavilion's footprint and still contains most of the pavilion's original east side within it. Ten years later in 1935, Archibald Leitch also designed a larger North Stand for Fratton Park. Fratton Park reached its current all-time ground attendance record of 51,385 supporters on 26 February 1949, for an FA Cup sixth-round match, a 2–1 win against Derby County. The Fratton Railway End was demolished in 1956 and replaced by a new prefabricated concrete and steel stand, simply known as The Fratton End. Fratton Park became an all seated football ground in 1996, which greatly reduced Fratton Park's previous maximum capacity. In 1997, a new Fratton End was opened in October 1997. Plans for relocation were first mooted in the early 1990s, but due to various objections and financial obstacles, the club has continued to play at Fratton Park.

Rivalries and supporters[edit]

Portsmouth fans at Wembley Stadium for the 2007–08 FA Cup semi-final with West Bromwich Albion

Portsmouth's main rivals are Southampton,[92] who are 19.8 miles (31.8 km) away. The South Coast Derby is one of the less frequently played rivalries within English football due to the clubs being in different divisions; however this usually adds to the ferocity of the fixture.

Prior to the mid/late 1960s, rivalry between Portsmouth and Southampton was largely non-existent, as a consequence of their disparity in league status. This derby match has been sporadic. Since 1977, the teams have only played league games against each other in four seasons (1987–88, 2003–04, 2004–05 and 2011–12). Including Southern League games, there have been 64 league games between the clubs, but they have also met five times in the FA Cup, and twice in the League Cup – with Southampton winning both times, including at the most recent match between the two sides, with Portsmouth losing to their rivals 4–0 at Fratton Park in 2019.

Many Portsmouth supporters commonly use the derogatory nickname Scummer (plural: Scummers) to describe Southampton fans, or collectively Scum to also include their football club, and indeed the city of Southampton itself. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, Scummers was a derogatory name with naval origins for pirates or buccaneers, and was first recorded in use in 1585.[93][94]

Meanwhile, Portsmouth supporters have had the equally derogatory nickname Skate bestowed upon them by Southampton fans as a rebuttal to Scummer since the 1987–88 Division One season. This was unofficially chosen by Southampton fans from a list of insults compiled by a Southampton-based supporters fanzine called The Ugly Inside in 1988.[95] Ironically, the chosen nickname Skate was actually stolen from the civilian population of Portsmouth, who had long used Skate as a derogatory insult or nickname for sailors based in Portsmouth Dockyard and other Royal Navy establishments.

Another rivalry over the years, known as the "Dockyard Derby" by the media, is with Plymouth Argyle.[96][97] This rivalry is also known as the Battle of the Ports.[98] In recent seasons the club has also developed a minor rivalry with Sunderland, mainly stemming from the clubs meeting each other 5 times in the 2018–19 season.[99]

'The Pompey Chimes'[edit]

The best-known chant sung by Portsmouth supporters are "The Pompey Chimes". The chant is regarded as football's oldest chant still in use today.[100][101]

"The Pompey Chimes" were originally called "The Town Hall Chimes", and were created by the supporters of Royal Artillery (Portsmouth) Football Club, a British Army artillery regiment team, who were the most popular and successful amateur football team based in Portsmouth for much of the 1890s. Royal Artillery played their home matches at the United Services Recreation Ground in Burnaby Road, Portsmouth,[102] and were already nicknamed "Pompey"[103] before the founding of Portsmouth F.C. in 1898.

The nearby Portsmouth Town Hall, only 0.3 miles (0.5 km) from Burnaby Road was completed in 1890, and would strike the various Westminster Quarters chimes every quarter hour. Football referees would use the Town Hall's clock bells as a reference to when the football match should end at 4 pm.[citation needed] Just before 4 pm the crowd of supporters would sing in unison with the Town Hall's chimes on the hour to encourage the referee to blow the whistle to signify full-time.[citation needed] The original words to "The Pompey Chimes" (as printed in the 1900–01 Official Handbook of Portsmouth F.C.), were:

 \relative c' {\set Staff.midiInstrument = #"tubular bells" \time 5/4 \key e \major e4 gis fis b,2 | e4 fis gis e2 | gis4 e fis b,2 |  b4 fis' gis e2 | R1*5/4\fermata \bar "||"  \clef bass \time 4/4 e,1^"Portsmouth Town Hall Chimes (4pm)"  | e1| e1 | e1 |}

Play up Pompey,
Just one more goal!
Make tracks! What ho!
Hallo! Hallo!!

With the demise of Royal Artillery (Portsmouth) F.C. after their expulsion from the 1898–99 FA Amateur Cup for alleged professionalism, many of Royal Artillery's supporters switched their allegiance in 1899 to Portsmouth F.C., taking the "Town Hall Chimes" chant and the "Pompey" nickname from Burnaby Road to Fratton Park, a distance of 1.8 miles (2.8 km).

The Pompey Chimes are still sung at Fratton Park today, and have evolved to be sung at a quicker tempo, and with a shortened chime style – usually twice:

 \relative c'' {\set Staff.midiInstrument = #"tubular bells" \time 5/4  \key e \major gis4 e fis b,2 | b4 fis' gis e2 | gis4 e fis b,2 | b4 fis' gis e2 |}

Play up Pompey,
Pompey play up!
Play up Pompey,
Pompey play up!

It is most common to hear The Chimes sung by Portsmouth supporters as an encouragement to the Portsmouth team, more specifically before the Portsmouth players take set-piece kicks, such as corner-kicks, penalty-kicks or direct free-kicks.

Club records[edit]

Portsmouth in Europe[edit]

To date Portsmouth have played one season in UEFA competitions, competing in the 2008–09 UEFA Cup. They beat Vitória de Guimarães 4–2 on aggregate in the first round.[113][114] In the group stage Portsmouth registered one win along with a draw against A.C. Milan,[115] and were knocked out at the group stages after a 3–2 away loss to VfL Wolfsburg.[116]

Season Competition Round Opponents Home Away Aggregate
2008–09 UEFA Cup R1 Portugal Vitória de Guimarães 2–0 2–2 4–2
Group Portugal Braga 3–0
Italy AC Milan 2–2
Germany Wolfsburg 3–2
Netherlands Heerenveen 3–0

Players[edit]

For a list of notable players and players who played for Portsmouth for more than 100 games in a sortable-list format, see List of Portsmouth F.C. players.

Current squad[edit]

As of 1 February 2024[117]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Pos. Nation Player
1 GK England ENG Will Norris
2 DF England ENG Zak Swanson
4 DF England ENG Ryley Towler
5 DF Wales WAL Regan Poole
6 DF England ENG Connor Ogilvie
7 MF England ENG Marlon Pack (captain)
8 MF Australia AUS Alex Robertson (on loan from Manchester City)
9 FW England ENG Colby Bishop
10 FW Republic of Ireland IRL Anthony Scully
11 FW Northern Ireland NIR Gavin Whyte
13 GK England ENG Matt Macey
14 MF England ENG Ben Stevenson
15 FW England ENG Christian Saydee
16 MF Wales WAL Joe Morrell (vice-captain)
17 DF Republic of Ireland IRL Joe Rafferty
18 DF Republic of Ireland IRL Conor Shaughnessy
No. Pos. Nation Player
19 FW Australia AUS Kusini Yengi
20 DF England ENG Sean Raggett
21 DF England ENG Jack Sparkes
23 MF England ENG Owen Moxon
24 MF Northern Ireland NIR Terry Devlin
25 FW England ENG Abu Kamara (on loan from Norwich City)
26 MF Wales WAL Tom Lowery
28 MF England ENG Tino Anjorin (on loan from Chelsea)
29 FW England ENG Josh Martin
31 GK England ENG Ryan Schofield
32 FW Northern Ireland NIR Paddy Lane
34 DF England ENG Josh Dockerill
44 MF Jamaica JAM Myles Peart-Harris (on loan from Brentford)
45 MF Wales WAL Lee Evans
46 DF Scotland SCO Tom McIntyre
49 FW England ENG Callum Lang

Out on loan[edit]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Pos. Nation Player
22 DF England ENG Liam Vincent (at Tonbridge Angels until February 2024)
27 DF Tanzania TAN Haji Mnoga (at Aldershot until 30 June 2024)
No. Pos. Nation Player
30 MF Wales WAL Harry Jewitt-White (at Havant & Waterlooville until 30 June 2024)
33 GK England ENG Toby Steward (at Gosport until 31 January 2024)

Youth Academy[edit]

Retired and reserved numbers[edit]

  • Number 1 was temporarily retired for the 2001–02 season in respect to goalkeeper Aaron Flahavan, who died in a car crash in August 2001, days after being handed the squad number 1 for the first time.[118] Since the 2003–04 season, number 13 shirt was reserved in respect for him, as this was the number he wore for the majority of his stay at the club.[119] Ten years after his death, however, the number 13 was again used.[citation needed]
  • Number 58 is "Nelson", the club mascot's number.[120]

Portsmouth Player of the Season (since 1968)[edit]

Source:[121][122]

Portsmouth Hall of Fame[edit]

Portsmouth created a Hall of Fame in March 2009, which honours former players and staff members of the club.[123] At a year-by-year ceremony, the club holds a day to announce the year's inducted to the list, and also has a dinner for the people present.

The following players have been inducted into the Portsmouth Football Club Hall of Fame:

All appearances and goals according to Soccerbase. * Denotes player for Portsmouth FC Women

Key:

GK = Goalkeeper CB = Centre-back LB = Left-back RB = Right-back FB = Full-back LH = Left half RH = Right half WH = Wing half
CM = Centre midfielder LW = Left winger RW = Right winger OF = Outside forward IF = Inside forward FW = Forward ST = Striker U = Utility player

Women's team[edit]

The club's female counterpart is Portsmouth Women, which was founded in 1987.[133] The team currently competes in the FA Women's National League South and play at Havant & Waterlooville's stadium.[133] Following the takeover of the club by the Portsmouth Supporters Trust, it was announced that there would be closer ties between the men's and women's clubs.

On 5 June 2023, Portsmouth announced that their women's team would integrate under The Tornate Company, meaning the side would be turning semi-professional for the first time in the club's history.[134]

Club management[edit]

Coaching positions[edit]

Source:[135]

Position Staff
Chairman United States Michael Eisner
Directors board United States Michael Eisner
United States Eric Eisner
United States Breck Eisner
United States Anders Eisner
United States Andy Redman
England Mark Catlin
CEO England Andrew Cullen
Sporting director England Richard Hughes
Head coach England John Mousinho
Assistant head coach England Jon Harley
First team development coach Pakistan Zesh Rehman
Goalkeeping coach England Joe Prodomo
Head physio England Bobby Bacic
Physio Wales Jack Hughes
Head of sport science England Miles Littlechild
Head of recruitment England Phil Boardman
Head of performance analysis England Dan Ashby
Kit manager England Shaun North
Mascot England Nelson

Managerial history[edit]

Ownership[edit]

Portsmouth Football Club has operated under five different parent company names in its history:

  • Portsmouth Football and Athletic Company Limited (5 April 1898 – 27 July 1912)
  • Portsmouth Football Club Limited (27 July 1912 – 12 May 1999)[136] (initially as 'Portsmouth Football Company Limited' from 27 July 1912 until 23 January 1989 when name officially changed to 'Portsmouth Football Club Limited')[137]
  • Portsmouth City Football Club Limited (12 May 1999 – 25 May 2010)[138] (initially as 'Overflint Limited' from 7 April 1999 – 12 May 1999)
  • Portsmouth Football Club (2010) Limited (25 May 2010 – 10 April 2013)[139] (initially as 'PFC Realisations Limited' from 25 May 2010 – 23 November 2010)
  • Portsmouth Community Football Club Limited (10 April 2013 – present)[140] (initially as 'Portsmouth Supporters Trust (Operations) Limited' from 7 February 2012 – 14 September 2012)

The current owner of Portsmouth Community Football Club Limited is The Tornante Company, which purchased the club from the Portsmouth Supporters Trust (PST) on 3 August 2017.[141]

Affiliated clubs[edit]

Portsmouth have had a long-standing relationship with Havant & Waterlooville, with regular pre-season friendlies organised between the two clubs.[142] Portsmouth have also previously used West Leigh Park, Havant & Waterlooville's home stadium, for reserve team matches. Previous links with Belgian side Zulte Waregem[143] and Irish academy Home Farm[144] have been cancelled.

Portsmouth have developed a relationship with Gosport Borough after their promotion to the Conference South. Portsmouth fans were encouraged to support Gosport in their FA Trophy final match at Wembley in March 2014.[145] They also play friendlies and loan out players to the side.

Honours[edit]

Source:[146]

Portsmouth are one of only five English football clubs to have been champions of all four tiers of the professional English football pyramid.[147] In addition, Portsmouth are also one of only two English football clubs to have been champions of five professional divisions including the former regional Football League Third Division South championship in the 1923–24 season.[citation needed]

League

Cup

References and notes[edit]

General references[edit]

  • Farmery, Colin (1999). Portsmouth: From Tindall to Ball – A Complete Record. Desert Island Books. ISBN 1-874287-25-2.
  • Farmery, Colin (2004). Seventeen Miles From Paradise – Saints v Pompey: Passion, Pride and Prejudice. Desert Island Books. ISBN 1-874287-89-9.
  • Farmery, Colin (2005). Portsmouth: the Modern Era – a Complete Record. Desert Island Books. ISBN 1-905328-08-7.
  • Inglis, Simon (1996). Football Grounds of Britain. Collins Willow. ISBN 0-00-218426-5.
  • Pennant, Cass; Silvester, Rob (2004). Rolling with the 6.57 Crew – The True Story of Pompey's Legendary Football Fans. John Blake Publishing. ISBN 1-84454-072-3.

Notes[edit]

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