In May 1973 John Deacon took full control after joining the Board several months earlier. He promised that he would get the
club out of the second division within three years.
Big money signings in Peter Marinello (Arsenal), Ron Davies (Southampton), Phil Roberts (Bristol Rovers), Paul Went (Fulham) and Malcolm Manley (Leicester), had given fans hope that the glory days were to return. Marinello, captured for a cool £100,000, in particular had been dubbed 'the new George Best', and his signing captured the imagination of everyone, including the national press.
However, rather than things getting better, they were to get worse. John Mortimore had taken over as manager, but his big name players flattered to deceive and losses of £167,000 were revealed.
The following season was even more dismal with bigger losses on and off the field. John Mortimore left to eventually be replaced by former Liverpool legend Ian St John.
John Mortimore (born 23 September 1934 in Farnborough, Hampshire) is an English former association football player and manager. He played as a centre half in the Football League for Chelsea, with whom he scored 10 goals from 279 games in all competitions between 1956 and 1965 and won the 1965 Football League Cup, and for Queens Park Rangers. As manager, he had spells at Portsmouth, Benfica, where he won the national championship in both 1976–77 and 1986–87, and the Portuguese Cup in 1986 and 1987, Belenenses and, in a very brief stint as joint caretaker, Southampton. He also coached at clubs including Sunderland, Chelsea and Southampton, where he eventually became club president.