Grant pleads for fair play in Pompey's cup 'Cinderella story'
Portsmouth boss Avram Grant has pleaded with the authorities to allow the FA Cup finalists to play in the Europa League next season.
Grant is distraught the move has been blocked because the club did not apply for a Uefa licence as they are in administration. He cites Liverpool as an example of how the rules were changed to allow them to play in the Champions League in 2005 after they won the trophy. Following the 2-2 draw against Bolton, Grant said: "We are suffering because of the mistakes of others. We have been punished with nine points deducted and now regarding Europe.
"I cannot accept this. It is not fair play. I hope nobody says to me rules are rules. Liverpool finished fifth and got in the Champions League. According to the rules they should not have been in the Champions League. But the rules were changed especially for them and they played.
"It's logical. This is a Cinderella story. This is what English football is about, not just about the rich.
"This club deserves to be in Europe next year. It is easier to come from 2-0 down than to fight a decision that is not logical. These players and these fans they are keeping the English tradition of fighting and never giving up. Someone in the FA and Premier League need to give them a reward."
Bolton looked set for the victory that would have definitely secured their top-flight status when Ivan Klasnic and Kevin Davies scored before half time. Instead they had to settle for a point with on-loan striker Aruna Dindane scoring a brace for Portsmouth, who have already been banished to the second tier. That looks enough to secure their status with Hull losing and Burnley having inferior goal difference.
However manager Owen Coyle insists there is still work to be done. "We are not safe. We are nine points ahead and people can tell me about goal difference and everything else. But my focus was on winning today," he said.
"I know what is required to take the club on. But the short term aim was to stay in the Premier League. In January we were one of the favourites to go down given the position we were in. We have not done it yet. We need another point minimum. We could have done it today and that is the disappointing thing.
"But they got back into the game. We were nervous. I don't know if that came down from the stands as the club has been scrapping to stay in the league in recent years. I have stressed to the players, that's not what I want at this club. I do not want players who are just happy to be in the league.
"I want the players who have the energy and desire to push us up the league."