Pompey players go unpaid in December

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Fresh from a traumatic evening when their fans turned on the board during the 4-1 home defeat to Arsenal, Premier League crisis club Portsmouth yesterday confirmed that their players would not be paid on time for the third time this season.

Fratton Park had reverberated to chants of "Sack the board", "Where's all our money gone?" and "You're not fit to own the club" during the game against Arsène Wenger's side, the revelation that the Inland Revenue had presented the club, believed to be £60m in debt, with a winding-up petition proving the last straw for many supporters. Portsmouth's players were due to receive their salaries yesterday but just as happened last month and in September the payments were missed .

In a statement, the Premier League's bottom club sought to offer reassurance that the players, and the non-playing staff who also went unpaid, would receive their money soon. "Portsmouth Football Club expect to pay their first-team squad's December salaries on Tuesday, 5 January," it read. "The club has been speaking to the Professional Footballers' Association and the players have been informed.

"The club has been assured of receipt of funds by Tuesday and the owner and board have been working hard on resolving the short-term delay."

Portsmouth tried to claim the latest delay was because of a banking error and not due to further financial problems in a difficult season that has seen them put under a transfer embargo by the Premier League for failing to keep up to date with repayments to other clubs.

A club spokesman told the Portsmouth News: "The problem was due to a file not being loaded properly at the bank. It wasn't processed properly. The club apologise and if there are any knock-on effects financially for employees the club will reimburse them."

In the programme for the Arsenal game, where defeat left Portsmouth four points adrift of safety, chief executive Peter Storrie – himself facing a court case over a tax evasion charge – tried to allay fears the club could slide into administration.

"It has been a very difficult year," Storrie wrote, "but one thing you must believe is that [owner] Ali al-Faraj and his associates are doing their very best to refinance the club so we can once again operate the business as we all want to.

"At Ali's request I have also been in discussions regarding further investment with various parties, and these are ongoing."

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