The Sweeper: Portsmouth Need £22 Million to Live
News has emerged today that Portsmouth FC must come up with £22 million (give or take whether the club end up relegated) by a March 1st High Court date, or else the club will be declared insolvent and fold as a result of the HMRC’s winding-up petition for unpaid taxes. The news follows the Premier League’s declaration it would not allow Portsmouth to sell its players outside the transfer window to raise emergency funds even though FIFA was open to the move, a decision taken either because, depending on who you read, the Premier League was afraid it would encourage the club to avoid administration and the subsequent nine point penalty, or because Scudamore and co. are still confident Portsmouth will find an interested investor in time.
In addition to administration, the other measures under consideration by the club’s current owners won’t exactly leave Portsmouth in an advantageous position to stay solvent in future. The Guardian’s Jaime Jackson:
Even if Portsmouth were to enter administration, a total of around £14m would be required….In a move that will anger fans, sources also claimed that the owner, Balram Chainrai, will be sold the freehold of Fratton Park to pay off £10m of the £17m the Hong Kong businessman is owed. He would then lease it back to the club for a minimum of 15 years for a rent of more than £1m for the first year, before the rate rises.
Fans of Crystal Palace, or Simon Jordan himself, will tell you how easy it is to stay financially afloat when you don’t own your own ground, which CPFC haven’t since 1985. Anticipating the news yesterday, Arsene Wenger pleaded yesterday for the Premier League to give Portsmouth a “minimum payment” to prevent the club folding at least until the end of the season.
Whether Wenger’s pleas are based on some measure of self-interest in the league is for others to judge, but he did remind everyone of something that has been forgotten by owners and Premier League officials alike: “It’s terrible that some clubs will go out of business because it’s part of the history of the country.” Pompey have played at Fratton Park since 1897. There is a long fan legacy involved here in England’s south coast, and Portsmouth’s example should motivate Supporters Trusts in pushing for greater debt regulation for English clubs in the coming General Election.
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