Last week’s euphoria, felt amongst players and fans alike, after a goalless draw with Cup winners Braga secured another season of top-class football in the Algarve, was somewhat tempered by subsequent news of an official inquiry into possible financial irregularities during past dealings between Portimonense and FC Porto, which could result in severe penalties.
Sceptics have long regarded the ‘special relationship’ between the two clubs, dating back to the presidency of ex-Porto director Fernando Rocha, as nothing more than a ‘feeder’ arrangement, allowing the powerhouse in the north to cherry-pick the Algarveans’ best players.
More recently, current Portimonense majority shareholder and ‘super’ agent Theodoro Fonseca, who appeared on the Portuguese football scene with the 2008 multi-million Hulk transfer to Porto and subsequent €40 million sale to Zenith St Petersburg, has come under the authorities’ spotlight, having also overseen the moves north of such players as Paulinho and Everton. In question are also third-party ownership arrangements, banned by FIFA, involving associated offshore companies ‘Pearl Design Holding’ and ‘For Goal’.
The situation has been further aggravated by a parallel Covid-19-related investigation into the January loan departure of former Portimonense star player Shoya Nakajima from Porto to the United Arab Emirates, which may open another ‘can of worms’.
For now, it is claimed that the Japanese midfielder travelled after testing positive for the virus, but a closer look at the player’s past transfer history may well reveal irregularities vis-à-vis his initial February 2019 reported €35 million transfer from Portimonense to Qatar, followed by a €12 million cut-price return to Porto in July of the same year, having played only seven matches in the Middle East.
Meanwhile, this season’s 11-goal ‘discovery’, Beto, is the latest player linked with a move to Porto, while Portimonense are said to be open to concrete offers for other stand-out performers Willyan and keeper Samuel.
By SKIP BANDELE