With just over five weeks to go until the 2020/21 season begins, the true weight of COVID-19 is being felt across football.
As reported by The News’ Jordan Cross, interviewing Chief Executive Mark Catlin, Pompey are losing £700k each month as the virus curtails fans’ ability to attend matches, make the most of match day hospitality, plus footfall from the club shop.
This stark figure reflects how clubs across the spectrum will be feeling the impact of the outbreak.
Naturally, Pompey fans would’ve hoped to see the club emerge positively and strongly off the back of play-off disappointment and – despite how feelings for manager Kenny Jackett transpire – wanted to see the club invest in the playing squad to bolster promotion challenges for the new season.
However the losses the club are making, as are all clubs, has put the brakes on any ability to test the market, even before the EFL’s salary cap vote is concluded.
The club have so far retained left-back Lee Brown and centre-half Sean Raggett returns on a permanent deal. The former who, whilst not exciting the fan base, is a strong and steady retention to the squad. Raggett of course settled slowly at Pompey, however did find his feet with some strong performances before the League One season was curtailed.
However any hopes and aspirations of big-money signings surely must be put on hold for at least 12 months, and any desire to see the club splash the levels of cash some fans would expect could ultimately set the club back years, and back into the deldrum of financial insecurity, instability and the dark days those very supporters fought so hardly to save us from.
It’ll be interesting to see how the loan window is utilised across the EFL, though, as all clubs wrangle with their financial modelling, especially if the salary cap gets full approval.
Clubs across the country may well be incentivised to offer percentage-share agreements towards player wages to move personnel out of their own clubs to either retain higher-paid quality, or bolster squad sizes.
As all clubs settle into this new model, Pompey must too. With a high playing budget as you’d expect for a club the size and calibre it is, trimming the fat will be a necessary evil, especially given no confirmed date fans will be able to attend matches.
Even then, we’re still a good few steps before we truly understand when full-capacity stadia will be an option.
Ultimately we are staring down the barrel of a season where all clubs will have to readjust. The bigger you are, chances are the harder you’ll fall and it’ll be a real test of every manager across the division to prove their mettle as the playing field – righty or wrongly is levelled.
Here’s hoping the five weeks we have left before the opening-day fixture gives enough time, for those who’ll be going into their second season with us, to settle further and gel as a unit before what’ll likely be the most gruelling League One season Pompey have had to navigate commences.