Tuesday, February 02, 2010



As Britain's cold,cold winter of 2009/10 enters a wet February, I am reminded that the sporting life goes on in my favourite island: on the last day of football's transfer window, a French footballer, Gauthier Mahoto, was sold by Portsmouth FC to the Corsican team of FC Bastia.

France's two most southern football teams, FC Bastia and Ajaccio, have enjoyed strange parallels with their British counterparts over recent years. Like Bastia and Ajaccio, my own team Southampton and its neighbour Portsmouth have slipped from the heights they used to enjoy. Both Bastia and Ajaccio used to grace France's top flight and are now getting used to life in the second tier. Southampton have suffered the triple ignominy of a double drop to England's 1st Division and a financial collapse that last season plunged them into financial administration.

Portsmouth, meanwhile, managed to cling on to their Premiership status last year. However, even as I write this the club is struggling both for Premiership and financial survival and some commentators have surmised that Pompey too could follow Southampton's downward path.

In the meantime, seventeen year old midfielder Gauthier Mahoto finds himself helping to pay for Portsmouth's hoped-for survival by changing the country where he weaves his magic. Let's hope he does well and gets Bastia back onto the path towards promotion to France's Division 1. But I fear his departure won't provide enough cash to be of much help to his former employer.

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