Chainrai pledges to save Portsmouth

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The Independent Online

Portsmouth chairman Balram Chainrai has pledged to save the cash-strapped club if he cannot find other means of investment.

The Premier League strugglers desperately need to find a buyer before next month's date with HM Revenue and Customs over an unpaid tax bill.

The club asked the Premier League for permission to sell their players outside of the transfer window in a bid to ease their debts but that request was turned down.

Chainrai has held discussions with a South African consortium over a possible takeover of the Fratton Park club, which could be completed as early as today, but his spokesman, Phil Hall, insists there must be proof of the required funds before the club change ownership.

Hall told Sky Sports News: "He (Chainrai) absolutely pledges that he will not do business unless people have the funds and, if he can't find investment, he will find a way of saving the club himself.

"He will bring his business contacts into play and he says categorically the club will not close and its history will continue into the future.

"There has got to be an end to all this speculation. Balram is a very experienced businessman and nothing will be done until the funds are in place. He met the South Africans on Friday but, until we see proof of funds, there will be no move forwards."

Hall also revealed Chainrai had used his own money to pay off an Inland Revenue bill last month.

"Balram has put £17million of his own money in and as recently as January he paid a £4million Inland Revenue bill. He has stayed strong and put the money in. We hope the South African group will come forward but we are not pinning our hopes on this," he added.

Chief executive Peter Storrie was more hopeful a deal will be completed, with the consortium providing proof they have the money required to save the club.

He said: "At the end of the day, we need to have it from the bank, we need to see that the funds are there and they can take it forward. We need to see it, the Premier League need to see it, everybody needs to see that there are funds there.

"The bank information will come through their lawyers, proof of funds from their banks to Balram Chainrai's lawyers and, if that happens, the phone call will come and we will be all systems go tomorrow (Monday) night but, at this moment, it is out of our hands and in the South African group's hands."

Storrie did admit he was slightly sceptical of the move following the takeovers by Sulaiman Al Fahim and Ali Al Faraj, where neither had the capital to take the club forward.

"I would hope (the deal goes through) but you never know for sure," he said. "We all have to take responsibility for the situation at the club. But we are all employees of this club and you can only go by what people have told you.

"In the past we had Sulaiman putting forward to fans groups that he had £Xmillion lined up to come into the club and Ali Al Faraj did the same thing and they didn't so you are always sceptical, but you are also hopeful as all we want is this football club to survive."

Storrie was also keen to reassure fans that, should a deal not be completed today, the club do have other options available to them.

He continued: "We have other irons in the fire and other options available. There is another group, not as advanced as the South African group, but they could be very quickly. It's not dead until it's dead is my philosophy in life and we will work through the next few days to keep the club alive."

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