Pompey face ultimatum over unpaid taxes

With Al-Fahim in hospital, Portsmouth's finances slip further towards crisis point
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The Independent Football

Revenue officials are set to begin proceedings against Portsmouth Football club if the South Coast club fails to settle an outstanding tax bill.

The Independent has learnt that the club, which was this week unable to pay its players their September salaries, could be served with a statutory demand from the Revenue and Customs (HMRC) ordering the full payment of outstanding taxes it is owed.

The statutory demand procedure is the first step in the winding up of a company and is a presumption of insolvency. If Pompey fail to pay the outstanding bill then a compulsory winding up order would be triggered and a Court could seek the closure of the club after 21 days.

It is believed that Pompey has paid off some money owed to the taxman but a spokesman for the South Coast club confirmed that the club was still in arrears with the HMRC, although he declined to say how much by.

The spokesman added that the club had "not received anything from the Revenue" regarding a winding-up order. A spokesman for HMRC declined to comment.

Earlier in the year Portsmouth was threatened with dissolution by Companies House, the register of corporate activity in Britain, after the football club failed to file key annual return documents to authorities. However, the club eventually complied with the warning by the end of June.

News of the Revenue's likely intervention at Fratton Park comes after one of the most traumatic weeks in the club's history.

Yesterday, chairman Sulaiman al-Fahim was admitted to a Dubai hospital for emergency surgery to remove kidney stones.

The 32-year-old property tycoon, who officially took over the reins at the club in the summer, has promised to inject a further £50m into the club's coffers in the coming weeks but this has so far not been forthcoming.

Last week Pompey received an emergency injection of £5m which will enable players and staff at the club to be paid their September wages, originally due last Wednesday.

Portsmouth's chief executive, Peter Storrie, is believed to have secured the cash bailout from Ali al-Faraj, the Saudi property investor who almost bought Portsmouth in the summer.

It is thought that the £5m loan to Pompey may have been secured against the club's assets meaning that Faraj could ultimately wrestle control of the club from Fahim, if the loan is not repaid. The two parties were due to meet this week following Portsmouth's away tie against Wolves but that meeting has now been shelved because of Fahim's illness.

Just last week Storrie – Portsmouth's chief executive since 2002 – said of the club's plight: "There is no money left. All the money from all the player transfers and the Sky TV money – all of the £35m from January – has gone straight to the Standard Bank."

He added: "He [Fahim] has promised to refinance and he has shown me all the documentation but I have no idea about the conditions of the £50m he says will be arriving in a few weeks. We need to refinance, it is as simple as that."