Portsmouth are set to become the first Premier League club to go into administration after the owner, Balram Chainrai, served notice of his intention to put the club into the hands of insolvency experts on Friday.
Chainrai said it was now unlikely that a takeover deal would be done before the end of the week, and administration will prevent the club from being wound up in the High Court on Monday.
But it will also mean certain relegation for Pompey – any Premier League club going into administration faces an automatic nine-point penalty, which would leave the side on just seven points, 16 behind their nearest rivals.
After that there is the prospect of a continuing exodus of players and a long period of rebuilding in the Football League.
Chainrai is still in talks with four consortiums about a takeover, but any chance of a deal is remote; and with a winding-up order due in the High Court on Monday, the decision has been taken to go in to administration instead to save the club.
A club statement said: "Businessman Balu Chainrai, the owner of Portsmouth Football Club, has today served notice that the club will go into administration unless new owners can be found by Friday."
Mr Chainrai's spokesman, Phil Hall, said administration would keep the club alive as the winding-up order is now automatically suspended. Portsmouth have debts of £70m and the winding-up order was over £7.5m owed to HM Revenue and Customs.
One big loser if the club goes into administration is former owner Sacha Gaydamak, who says he is still owed as much as £30m.Reuse content