Mandaric weighs in over debts

Former Pompey chief attacks current owners and calls for greater regulation
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The Independent Online

Milan Mandaric believes the string of owners who have overseen Portsmouth's plight this season have "no business to be in football".

Mandaric took Pompey out of administration 11 years ago and got them in the Premier League before selling to Sacha Gaydamak – but the problems started when the club changed ownership again this season.

They have had four owners during a chaotic campaign and are in dispute with Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, who have lodged a winding-up petition with the High Court over unpaid taxes.

"I sold it to a proper owner – Sacha Gaydamak," Mandaric said. "He decided to go in a different direction to me and go steps further. He was successful and gave fans something they didn't have when I was there [an FA Cup] but that unfortunately cost expenses and debt.

"After he sold the club the new owners came in with no money. That is where the problem started. They had no business to be in football because they had no money. You have to at least maintain what is there when you buy a club, never mind spending money to make progress."

Pompey are due in court next month to fight their winding-up petition from HMRC, with Mandaric hoping the club will not have to go into administration.

He added: "If you don't have to go into administration that is better news. If you have no other option then you have to go to 'Plan B'. In my book, I would try everything humanly possible to keep it without administration, pay the bills and go on and rebuild."

Mandaric insists there should be rules to prevent clubs going into debt. "I think that is evident," he said. "We have to come up with stronger rules about financing. We talk about running it as a business and most of us aren't running clubs with business sense. There have to be rules to control the expenses, it's not a difficult one. It is the only way we can see progress in financing terms.

"We can copy countries like France who have been doing it for years. I haven't seen any clubs in France going into administration." But Portsmouth, despite their financial troubles, have still been signing players this season.

The Wolves manager Mick McCarthy is another who believes the South Coast's financial plight was a disaster waiting to happen.

McCarthy witnessed Portsmouth flex their apparent financial muscle last summer after admitting to missing out on signing two players as Wolves could not match the wages being offered by Pompey.

Since then Pompey have financially imploded, and now face another date in the High Court on March 1 relating to a number of unpaid bills.

Although McCarthy insists there is no bitterness towards Pompey, he does feel the financial state of the game today is a shambles.

"We had a player in my office and wanted to sign him, but couldn't match the deal being offered down there. It would be grossly unfair to name the player," McCarthy said.

"Then another one we were trying to sign and were negotiating with also ended up at Portsmouth, on a deal we wouldn't be prepared to give him.

"It doesn't make me feel bitter, not at all, but it's cock-eyed football is allowed to get so much in debt.

"Liverpool spend hundreds of millions, Manchester United do. I might as well start whingeing about it being an unfair playing field with them.

"But if someone is prepared to run their business and keep spending a pound more than they earn, you know it is a recipe for disaster at some stage. It has got to be."

Wolves were heavily linked last summer with a move for Jamie O'Hara prior to the Tottenham midfielder joining Pompey on loan, while striker Tommy Smith, who moved to Fratton Park from Watford in August, is another who has previously interested McCarthy.

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