Today it was reported in the Portsmouth News that former Disney CEO Michael Eisner was looking to buy Portsmouth FC.
I don’t know anything about the intricacies of club ownership in England, so I’m waiting to be told what to think about this by people who are more familiar. But to me it seems it could go either way.
Eisner is a billionaire. Pompey are relatively rich by League 2 standards, but if Eisner commits to investing large amounts, it could be a boon for the club as they (hopefully) move up through the leagues. Should he prove to be more committed than some previous owners during the troubled years, Eisner could preside over a growth period that sees Pompey back in the Championship (or higher).
I’ve seen it written that Pompey would do well to target the Championship for a long-term stable goal. This means that the days of Premier League football would be all but past. I assume that the rationale for this is that steady membership in the Championship is better than being a yo-yo club that bounces back between the top and second tiers, or even lower.
This analysis was based on the current ownership model, which means that a billionaire inserting himself into the equation could change the calculation. Again, a lot would depend on Eisner’s willingness to invest in the club, but perhaps higher aspirations would be possible.
On the negative side, having a wealthy benefactor appear runs the risk of leading everyone associated with the club to don rose-colored glasses. If a rich owner takes over a club, supporters may be blinded by the money and may eschew common sense and overall stability in favor of the glamor of going big as quickly as possible. For Portsmouth, I would hope the experiences of the late oughts and early teens would be enough to overcome this temptation.
Should Eisner make a formal bid, and should that bid make it through the maze of requirements to be accepted, the future could be even brighter for Pompey than it already is. But as we all know, it’s important to remain grounded no matter what amount of funding is available to a club. Financial ruin has happened to Portsmouth before, and the road back up the football ladder requires patience and discipline.