Monday, January 23, 2012
Taxing times for Pompey
Welcome to The Trawler, your weekly submersion through the teeming waters of life in the Championship, League One and League Two. You might be surprised what you find down there.
PAYE up Pompey
Portsmouth are in big trouble with the taxman again, with reports suggesting the club have been served with another winding up order by their good friends Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs.
"We pretty much have two months' PAYE outstanding," Andrew Andronikou, the joint-administrator of the club's parent company Convers Sports Initiatives (CSI), told the Observer. "We have about £800,000 a month and we never paid December and the club certainly is not in a position to pay this month so it's a total of £1.6 million. We're waiting to see what the Revenue will do."
Andronikou says Portsmouth are frantically seeking a buyer to raise the funds having seen a potential bid from Italian businessman Joseph Cala collapse on Friday. The club are also looking to lower their wage bill and sell a number of players in the January transfer window, with manager Michael Appleton said to be completely understanding of the situation.
Pompey escaped a similar winding up petition in 2010 by entering administration, which came with a nine-point deduction and culminated in their relegation from the Premier League. Appleton's team are currently 17th in the Championship.
Just to prove football's not all about austerity and massive debt, Reading are reportedly on the verge of a £41 million takeover by Russian businessman Anton Zingarevich.
The Reading Cronicle reports Zingarevich attended a private school at Reading, then went to Reading University, so clearly has some ties to the area. Most importantly for Royals fans, there seems to be the promise of funds for transfers.
Reading manager Brian McDermott apparently met with Zingarevich in Milan last week, and has been told his job is safe. The Trawler is heartened to hear this, but would advise McDermott against property investments in the area at this early stage.
Birmingham climbed into the play-off places with a 3-0 Championship victory against Watford, rounding off a great week for Chris Hughton's in-form side.
The result followed Blues' 1-0 FA Cup win against Midlands rivals Wolves, and was almost as convincing as the 6-0 mauling they gave Millwall last time out in the league. Considering the financial problems hanging over the club, and the demands of the Europa League group stage, it's remarkable to think Hughton has turned them into viable promotion candidates.
"Most of the big earners have gone," Hughton told the Independent.
"The players here work very hard - they like each other. [Unity] is also promoted by winning games. There's no doubt that spirit is always more evident when you're winning."
This week's "telling it like it is" award goes to Ipswich manager Paul Jewell, who roasted his team in public after they imploded from 1-0 up with 20 minutes to go against Leeds.
The turning point came when goalkeeper Alex McCarthy, who also had a spell on loan at Leeds from Reading earlier this season, handled a headed back-pass from Ibrahima Sonko. McCarthy saw red, for what Jewell called "a poor error of judgement", and substitute 'keeper Arran Lee-Barrett was duly beaten three times to hand Leeds victory.
"It was just a catalogue of errors," Jewell said. "We controlled the game until our keeper was sent off. Everyone makes mistakes but the mistakes we made were glaring errors you don't expect to see at Championship level. We restricted Leeds to very few chances."
Di Canio corner
Eventually, there will be a week bereft of Paolo Di Canio news for The Trawler, but this isn't it.
Swindon's tub-thumping manager was sent off for the third time this season on Saturday, after he remonstrated with officials during his team's 1-0 League One win against Macclesfield. Di Canio could be facing a length touchline ban this time - although the Italian maintains he was hard done by.
"I did not swear or say any bad words, but the referee sent me off because he did not like my body language," Di Canio said. "I am a passionate man and if I want to wave my arms in the air nobody is going to stop me. If the FA charge me I will appeal because if I deserved to be sent off for that I will be in the stands every week."
The Trawler hereby calls on Mario Balotelli to present Di Canio with his very own "why always me?" t-shirt.
Johnnie be good
Charlton went seven points clear at the top of League One thanks to a 1-0 win against Sheffield United, and once again it was Johnnie Jackson who struck the decisive blow.
Jackson followed his stunning free-kick winner against Sheffield Wednesday with another set-piece scorcher against their promotion rivals, and made sure Chris Powell's team maintained their unbeaten record at home this season.
Elsewhere in League One, that man Jordan Rhodes once again played the hero as Huddersfield came from 2-0 down to beat Brentford 3-2. Rhodes scored the winner to make it 14 in his last seven matches, and 29 altogether for the season.
Mixed week for Brighton
Just as things are starting to go well for Brighton on the pitch, so troubles off it threaten to undermine Gus Poyet's team.
Will Buckley's brace saw Albion to a 2-1 win against Peterborough on Saturday - a third straight league victory sweetened by the FA Cup replay success against Wrexham, which set up a fourth-round meeting with Newcastle United.
But sadly most of the attention on the club this week has focused on arrests of five Albion players, and one former player - relating to an alleged sexual assault in July 2011. Those questioned and bailed include Anton Rodgers, the son of Swansea City manager Brendon Rogers.
One of the six, Brighton defender Tommy Elphick, has now been eliminated from the Sussex Police investigation and will face no further questioning.