Bizarre ruling puts Pompey Academy in frame for title glory

Adam Webster. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (131047-3471)
Adam Webster. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (131047-3471)

Pompey Academy can be crowned champions this weekend – despite not finishing with the most points in their division.

Andy Awford’s side head into the final round of fixtures lying third in the Youth Alliance Under-18 South-East League.

The Blues entertain second-placed Luton on Saturday at Furze Lane.

Victory is essential, but Pompey must also rely on Watford defeating leaders Leyton Orient.

Even if results went their way, Orient still cannot be caught.

But in a bizarre twist Pompey would take the title.

The league have decreed eight teams will play 21 matches, which includes Orient, this season.

Meanwhile, Pompey and six others will play just 20.

In the interests of fairness, the league table is then worked out on a points-per-game basis, with goal difference irrelevant.

And if the Blues finish within a point of Orient, it will be Awford’s side who will be champions.

Academy coach Paul Hardyman said: ‘It’s complicated but the simple fact is if we beat Luton on Saturday and Watford beat Orient then we will win the league.

‘It’s ridiculous, I have never known this to happen before.

‘Normally everyone plays the same number of games.

‘We actually found out ourselves only last week when we noticed Orient had played one more match than us but had two games left – like we did at the time!

‘Apparently it is because when the league programme had been organised, Watford decided to become a category-three Academy rather than category two and dropped down.

‘It was right at the last minute, so everything needed to be revised at the start of the season, with the league ruling not everybody plays each other home and away.

‘We would have liked to have played the same number of games as everyone else, but instead it is worked on a points-per-game average.

‘I don’t think it has ever been heard of in the history of football. Even goal difference can’t be taken into account because teams have played a different number of games!

‘Obviously we would love to win the league, but our success story this season is getting the lads through the system and into the first-team.’

Taking place at 11am, the Academy will once again have players absent for first-team duty.

That means Adam Webster, Jack Maloney and Nick Awford could all be missing from the squad.

Instead, the trio are expected to be in the first-team ranks for the last Fratton Park game of the season against Sheffield United.