Guy Whittingham to Villa
Posted on 13th Jul 2023 by David Taylor
Each week the Pompey History Society takes a delve into the club’s archive and pulls out a document or artefact and tells the story behind it. This week, we opened a folder and found a significant fax sent and received in 1993…
What’s a fax? Can you explain for younger readers?
Quite. A facsimile, to give it its technical name, was a way of transferring documents by using a telephone signal. The technology of wiring pictures and documents had been around since the 1920s, but it was only in the 1960s and 1970s that the Rank Xerox company made the system accessible and affordable for businesses. Now everything’s done by emails and attachments, but for a quarter of a century or so football transfers couldn’t have been conducted without a fax machine in the office...
“Transfers”? Is that a clue?
Sure is. This particular fax is a copy of a copy. The original had been sent to the club on August 3, 1993 from Aston Villa FC and detailed the terms of Guy Whittingham’s proposed transfer to the Midlands club. It was then forwarded the following day to “Alton House” - which appears in the header of the document - an office block in Roehampton, which was where the businesses of club owner Jim Gregory were based. The fax had been signed by then Villa secretary Steven Stride and was awaiting a counter-signature from Pompey to seal the deal.
Yes. Yes. But let’s get to the interesting bit. What was the deal?
Not too much to see there, to be honest. It’s pretty much as was reported in the press at the time. The basic fee was £1.2m (spelt out in capital letters for the avoidance of any doubt) plus £210,000 in VAT, which for reporting purposes was not counted. £600,000 of the fee was payable up front, plus the VAT, and then the balance was payable in 12 equal instalments of £50,000 starting in September 1993. Oh. And Villa had to pay the 5% transfer levy on top, which was standard practice.
A decent fee then. Was it a record?
No. The year before we’d sold Darren Anderton to Spurs for £2m (£2.4m no doubt if the VAT was added on...), but seeing as we’d signed Guy out of the army for just £450 four years’ earlier it was a pretty good return on investment. The transfer had been in the offing throughout pre-season. Whittingham had appeared in Pompey’s early pre-season programme, but after his 49 league and cup goals the season before, his departure was almost inevitable and it was Premier League Villa who won the race to sign the 28-year-old.
Didn’t Whittingham have a second spell at Pompey?
He did, between 1999 and 2001, initially on loan, scoring some vital goals as we avoided relegation in 1999. The move to Villa didn’t really work out and, after a loan spell at Wolves, Guy moved to Sheffield Wednesday where he converted to a goalscoring midfielder and was very popular at Hillsborough. He came back to Fratton Park again as a coach in 2011, managing the side for 12 months between 2012 and 2013, steering the club through a difficult spell as it emerged from administration and entered community ownership.
This article was included in the club programme for the Peterborough game in December 2020