“Weak regulation has allowed individuals of dubious character and uncertain wealth to take control of clubs and participate in the boom. And now we are witnessing the bust” – The Independent

Comment & analysis round-up

Quote of the day: “Every aspect of the club’s overheads will be reviewed and scrutinised. Our aim is to maximise all revenues and to eradicate all unnecessary costs. We have many difficult decisions to make in next few days. I promise you {Portsmouth fans] we will save your club and take you forward… I will be cutting to the bone, I can assure you. Restructuring starts today. There will be significant cost cuts at all levels. We have a huge job to deal with. I need to generate working capital in the next two months, we will have to sell one or two players but I am not looking to sell players on a fire-sale basis. We are asking the Premier League for their assistance, this is very new for them. There will be a meeting with the Premier League next Thursday where I will make a presentation.” – Portsmouth administrator Andrew Andronikou.

Runner-up: “I know that the Arsenal manager has been pretty scathing all the time in the League Cup. It would be interesting to see the team that he played against Wigan Athletic in the semi-final [second leg] of the competition. I don’t know it off hand but I would have said that it was very, very strong. So when it suits, then it’s a great competition. And when it doesn’t suit you, then it’s not. That’s not my view. It’s an important competition. Manchester United, I’m quite sure, will field as strong a side as they possibly can on Sunday so I think with all their games that they have – they’re contesting the Premier League, they’re in the Champions League again – and they will be treating this game with the utmost respect. Now if Manchester United and Chelsea can treat this competition with the utmost respect then that would really be enough for me.” – Martin O’Neill.

Brilliant Roy Keane quote of the day: “International football is no longer the pinnacle for players. The pinnacle now is getting the big contract, the Bentley and the blonde… The most important thing for any footballer is what goes on between the ears and people tend to forget that. Do you want to go away for six weeks with other players you are not comfortable with and who are maybe showing you a lack of respect?”

Today’s overview: The backpages read more like the obituary column this Saturday as the 2008 FA Cup winners Portsmouth fight for their survival have accepted their fate to fall into administration.

Lifelong Portsmouth fan Jim Riordan tries to rally the troops in the Guardian claiming that the south coasters, under the charge of the fans, can re-rise like the proverbial phoenix from the ashes. “We have also drawn up our own Plan B for forming a new club if things go pear-shaped in administration. This has involved negotiations with local football clubs, coaches, builders etc. And agreement on a ground share with a local club, Havant & Waterlooville, increasing ground capacity to accommodate an estimated 8,000 core support from Pompey. The new club would recruit players from academy and Football League cast-offs, and a manager with extensive local knowledge. If that means starting out again in, say, Conference South, so be it. At least the club would be run by and for real Pompey fans. I may not see top-class football again in my lifetime. But I’d like my children and grandchildren to have the chance.”

Removing emotion and replacing it with cold hard facts, David Conn exposes where it all went wrong for Portsmouth. “Portsmouth’s core problem at the end of Sacha Gaydamak’s ownership last summer was that he… had become simply not rich enough. Then the overspending became unsupportable and Pompey, three owners later, have collapsed… At the clubs with owners putting money in, some are rich enough to sustain it, and do it relatively responsibly. It does, though, inflate players’ wages at all clubs, fuelling overspending. At some, Pompey now proving the point, the commitment will become too great once rich men pull out.”

Ben Chu also makes the case of the danger of football clubs being owned by one rich benefactor. “Debt should really be only one part of the concern for fans. Even if owners write off what they are owed, their other function is to absorb losses made by the club and provide working capital. If that backing (often a condition of banks continuing to lend) disappears, clubs will be in big trouble. Relegation and the accompanying fall in television revenue are likely to spell bankruptcy.”

The Independent hammer home the point of football’s weak link of being at the mercy of these rich individuals. “All that stands between many clubs and insolvency are “sugar daddy” owners prepared to subsidise their losses… Weak regulation has allowed individuals of dubious character and uncertain wealth to take control of clubs and participate in the boom. And now we are witnessing the bust.”

From the poor to the financial prudent.

The Times’ seems all too happy to misleadingly headline his article “Arsenal ready to spend in summer spree” in a report which details how “announcing yesterday their half-year financial results to November 30, 2009, Arsenal revealed that their net debt had been cut from £332.8 million to £203.6 million.”

We all knew it was coming in the Saturdays. With Manchester City heading to league leaders Chelsea, every hack in Blighty made some comment about the impending meeting of John Terry and Wayne Bridge.

David Hytner starts the thread snorting “Bridge versus Terry… has become big box-office and every lens in the stadium will be trained on the pair when the pre-match opportunity for a handshake comes up. Will they, won’t they? Even if they do, the gesture will be empty. The scale of Bridge’s loathing for Terry has become clear this week and so has the irritation with which Terry has come to consider Bridge. Terry remains bitterly upset to have lost the England captaincy over the affair.”

Ratcheting up the dumb focus on a handshake, Matt Hughes speculates that the Citizens as a whole may try to snub John Terry. “It is understood that several Manchester City players have discussed joining Bridge in shunning Terry by refusing to shake his hand before today’s match at Stamford Bridge, while some of Bridge’s former Chelsea colleagues have privately sent him messages of solidarity.”

Shifting the conversation along (just), pompous know-it-all Des Kelly gazes into his non-existent crystal ball to tell Wayne Bridge how to live his life. “Girlfriends are all well and good, but no ex-lingerie model is ever going to win a World Cup. In Bridge’s case, however, she might lose him one… by the summer, when the sting to his pride has faded, he will feel a fool, a sincere and genuine one, but a fool nonetheless.”

Flipping to Team Terry, Jason Burt farts “the Chelsea captain, according to friends, will “man up about the situation” and believes that the pair should observe the pre-match custom — although it is not obligatory – for Premier League matches of shaking hands with every member of the opposition. It’s unlikely to happen.”

Raising the level of discussion somewhat, The longer the talk centred on Bridge, the fewer questions Mancini had to answer about the poor form of his team and the inevitable speculation that has been triggered about his own future at a club for whom the word patience has been rendered alien.”

Ignoring the fact that the Pensioners are top of the table, Mark Lawrenson pokes holes in Chelsea’s squad. “Forget this current crisis, Terry has not played well this season. He’s looked shaky all season, didn’t play well at Inter Milan and has been inconsistent by his standards. His decision making has been poor… Chelsea are still inconsistent, vulnerable defensively and the player they miss the most is Michael Essien. He’s their kingpin. Jon Obi Mikel is inconsistent and Michael Ballack is over the other side of the hill and heading towards past it.”

Moving on to Sunday’s Carling Cup final between Manchester United and Aston Villa.

David Lacey makes the case that the Carling Cup is now more interesting than the FA Cup. “Whoever wins, and whatever the quality of the match, the Carling Cup final has gained in prominence because it is played at a time of the season when the game welcomes a diversion from the league treadmill. The FA Cup final, on the other hand, finds itself competing for attention with the climax of the Champions League, in which there is often a Premier League presence, and will be taking place this year when English thoughts are preoccupied with the World Cup.”

Injecting some tactics into the mix, Ian Herbert question Rafeal da Silva’s defensive nous. “There is little doubt that Rafael is the best right-back at Ferguson’s disposal… [But Rafael] has struggled badly against good opposition – most recently Craig Bellamy in the Carling Cup semi-final second leg and Milan’s Ronaldinho last week… The problem is Rafael’s tendency to dive in.”

It isn’t long though until the tabloids dumb things down again, as Neil Custis announces in The Sun that “Manchester United owners the Glazers have no plans to ever go to Old Trafford again,” before Sami Mokbel kicks off the the Saturday gossip with the story that “Manchester United will be forced into a drastic summer clearout to help keep their massive £716m debts in check. And stars Michael Owen and Ben Foster are likely to be the biggest names to be on their way. Sir Alex Ferguson will be told to axe 10 to 15 players as Manchester United look to trim their budget in light of their current financial problems… Nani, Owen Hargreaves and Gabriel Obertan could all face the chop.”

The Daily Mail speculate that “MK Dons are considering replacing manager Paul Ince with ex-Reading boss Brendan Rodgers,” while, changing topics completely, Alan Nixon reports that “Gary Cahill has boosted his England World Cup dream – and Bolton’s survival bid – with the news that he will be back in action in a fortnight.”

Mike Morgan reports that “Phil Brown has kept Hull whizkid Tom Cairney away from the Premier League big-guns by handing him a bumper new four-year deal.” And lastly Sami Mokbel farts “AC Milan star Alexandre Pato last night swung the door wide open for a £45m summer move to Chelsea.”