Football: Pompey ready for player auction

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The Independent Online
THE CHAIRMAN of Portsmouth is planning to sell players at knock- down prices to save the team from financial ruin. Martin Gregory is said to have drawn up a "bargain price list" of his squad to be circulated to every club in the country.

At the weekend, Gregory spent 48 hours discussing a takeover deal with the businessmen Vince Wolanin and Brian Howe, but the American-based pair flew home yesterday with the future of the club still uncertain.

Pompey's manager, Alan Ball, is said to be standing firm by the players, who yesterday staged a rebellion against Gregory when they learned he was planning to sell them off.

Following a meeting with the club's director, Peter Hinkinson, at Fratton Park yesterday, Ball said: "The chairman has got to tell the people exactly what is going on.

"I've insisted that he makes a statement. It's all very well hearing rumours about this and that, but he's got to tell people why I have been told to sell players. He has got to tell people the extent of the problems.

"One thing is for sure - I'm having no part in selling off this team to pay off debts. He says we have to sell players and I disagree with that and have told him that. I don't know where he will get the money from unless he gets a mass injection of cash from somewhere.

"I've got a four-year contract and I'm planning to see it out. I will work hard in my job to prepare the players for their game against Grimsby on Sunday. I am not going anywhere."

Portsmouth's captain, Adrian Whitbread, met senior players who yesterday decided to release a statement to The News, the city's newspaper.

Whitbread said: "We all got together and decided that we didn't want to go and we wanted to remain here and be loyal to the supporters who have been loyal to us all season. The manager does not want to sell anybody and we don't want to go."

The new Blackburn Rovers manager, Brian Kidd, is ready to raid his old club, Manchester United, to add coach Tony Coton for his back-room team.

Kidd plans to recruit new faces for his staff - and the former goalkeeper Coton is being lined up to join him, along with Brian McClair.

Coton has been at United this season as their goalkeeping coach, but he works without a contract and is keen to step up the managerial ladder.

Dave Bassett is trying to sign the Swedish centre-half the Jesper Mattsson for Nottingham Forest in a bargain deal. The Halmstad defender is due to arrive at Forest for talks this week about a move to the Premiership strugglers. He has a fixed fee of pounds 300,000 in his contract.

Mattsson was due to join Huddersfield Town last month, but the deal collapsed when a well-funed takeover fell through at the First Division club.