Latest man to leave Pompey admits he had to go

John Keeley has left to link up with former Blues boss Michael Appleton, above, at Blackburn Rovers
John Keeley has left to link up with former Blues boss Michael Appleton, above, at Blackburn Rovers

John Keeley spoke of his pain at leaving Pompey but insisted: I need to pay the bills.

The goalkeeping coach ended a six-year association with the Blues last week as he joined former manager Michael Appleton at Blackburn.

The ex-Brighton stopper is expected to be joined by former head of recruitment Luke Dowling and strength and conditioning coach Chris Neville this week.

There is ongoing uncertainty over the futures of the remaining staff at the club in the wake of Pompey’s troubles.

They were last week hit with a 10-per-cent wage cut by administrators PKF as they were dealt yet another painful body blow.

It proved a bridge too far for Keeley, who took the decision to leave Fratton Park for a move north. In the end it proved an economic call for the 51-year-old, albeit a difficult one.

Keeley explained he would never have left had the club been on a steady footing.

But in the end, he simply had to go to cover his costs.

He said: ‘I couldn’t turn down the chance – it would have been stupid of me.

‘We had to see the administrator on Tuesday afternoon and take another wage reduction.

‘How long can you continue to live like that?

‘I spoke to the gaffer and it was job done after that.

‘It’s such a shame because it’s a fantastic football club with brilliant people. Such a shame.

‘It keeps me in a good job. We all know the situation. Who wouldn’t take the chance?

‘It’s all right for people to expect you to stay but they pay their bills every month and we can’t afford to pay ours.

‘I don’t really expect they will but people shouldn’t knock us. We’ve done a year in administration now. We gave it our all.

‘If the club was running properly, like it was when I first arrived, you would never dream of moving on.

‘We all know what a great place it is but you have to live.’

Keeley admitted he would look back on the time he spent at the club fondly.

He arrived at Pompey from Brighton as the club’s Academy goalkeeping coach in 2007.

Keeley then stepped into the first-team picture after David Coles’ departure for West Ham with Avram Grant in 2010.

He explained he had built a strong affinity with Pompey in his time at the club and had nothing but admiration for the Blues fans.

Keeley said: ‘I’ve had fantastic times at a brilliant club. I’ve loved every minute of working at Pompey with the staff and the brilliant fans.

‘When you think we lost at Swindon 5-0 and they gave the team a standing ovation off the pitch, well, I don’t think you’d see that anywhere else.

‘It’s sad to be going but I just hope the club gets sorted.

‘With support like Pompey have, they deserve it.’