Pompey closer to takeover

Portsmouth manager Steve Cotterill could soon be in a position to strengthen his threadbare squad as Balram Chainrai's takeover bid moves a step closer.

Football League rules prevent Portsmouth from signing any players until they are out of administration and Chainrai could be in a position to resume control of the club as early as today.

Representatives of the Hong Kong businessman are understood to be meeting with Portsmouth's administrators at lunchtime, with a view to thrashing out a final agreement.

Cotterill would have to wait until the takeover deal is ratified by the Football League but he could at least start putting some wheels in motion.

Portsmouth's website lists a first-team squad of 19 players but Cotterill has named only four of his permitted seven substitutes for the first two matches of the season.

Cotterill would be restricted to recruiting players on free transfers or on loan deals.

The administrator Andrew Andronikou had previously stated that Portsmouth's wages budget would allow the club to compete in the npower Championship but that money was not available to pay transfer fees.

Veteran Nigerian striker Kanu is currently out of contract at Portsmouth but he is still training with the club.

Kevin-Prince Boateng and John Utaka have been linked strongly with moves away from the club but Cotterill has rejected a bid from West Brom for captain Marc Wilson.

Chainrai needs to guarantee that he will fund the debt payments, which on a 20p in the pound basis equate to between £16million and £20million.

The Hong Kong businessman will then be able to try to recoup the £17million debt he is owed by the club.

Any rival consortium would have had to pay £17million to take over the club. It is understood there were no other interested parties.

If a deal is agreed at Andronikou's offices he will fly in from Europe, where he is currently on a business trip, to sign the paperwork.

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