League threaten Portsmouth over unpaid debt
The Premier League will deduct money from Portsmouth's next television revenue payment if they do not meet their debts to fellow clubs, it emerged yesterday. The league executive has already imposed a transfer ban on Pompey and will do everything it can to make the club pay-up on its current £3m debt.
Under new powers given to chief executive Richard Scudamore this season by the 20 clubs, the Premier League can take control of a club's finances if they are in danger of going into administration. Portsmouth have been warned that the £12m that is due for the television rights payments to all clubs in January will be reduced at source to pay creditors.
The new owner Ali Al-Faraj and his lawyer Mark Jacob have made assurances to the league that they can get the situation under control. However the Premier League were less than impressed that the Portsmouth regime had failed to tell Paul Hart that a transfer embargo had been placed on them on 15 October. Instead the beleaguered Pompey manager only discovered the ruling when he tried to sign German Eugen Bopp, an out-of-contract player this week.
Portsmouth's outstanding debts include payments to Arsenal, for a sell-on clause that entitles Arsenal to a cut of the £19m transfer fee for Lassana Diarra when he left Pompey for Real Madrid in January. Chelsea are still owed money for the transfer of Glen Johnson, in August 2007, now at Liverpool.
In addition, Tottenham are owed money for the transfer of Jermain Defoe, now back at Spurs, who went to Pompey in January last year. Fulham are owed money for the transfer of Papa Bouba Diop, two years ago. The French club Rennes are also owed money for the transfer of John Utaka in July 2007.
Should Al-Faraj, a Saudi Arabian businessman, be unable to arrest the decline of the club, he could find himself with a severely reduced television payment in January as well as a ban on signing any players during that period. If the Premier League have doubts about Portsmouth's capacity to pay wages – and therefore fulfil fixtures – they have the power to seize control of the club and sell players accordingly in January.
Last night, a Portsmouth spokesman claimed that the club would soon be in control of the debt. He said: "This concerns unpaid money to other clubs and it is in the process of being sorted. We are confident it will be sorted by the end of the week."
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