Pompey reject talk of administration as debts loom large
Premier League's bottom club also deny claims that chief executive is leaving
Friday 11 December 2009
Portsmouth yesterday issued a firm denial that they are going into administration and that their chief executive, Peter Storrie, was leaving, but failed to provide any evidence that their owner, Ali al-Faraj, has secured funds to safeguard the club's long-term future.
A January payment of TV revenue from the Premier League of £7m has already been earmarked to service the mandatory repayment of football debts. Unless Faraj or other backers provide imminent funding, the Premier League will pay those debts directly, and as things stand, the £7m will not cover them.
A £9m payment is also due next month to Portsmouth's last-but-one owner, Sacha Gaydamak, and there is no indication Faraj has yet secured the means to pay it. Pompey are already struggling to meet routine financial obligations; the players have been paid late twice this season.
The club's statement said that Faraj – the latest of three owners this year alone – and unnamed "associates" have already "invested substantial funds to keep the club operating and will continue to do so". No details were provided. When Faraj bought the club from Sulaiman al-Fahim in October, he was touted as a man of great wealth but enquiries have yet to unearth evidence to substantiate that.
In the long-term, Portsmouth owe around £32m altogether to Gaydamak, or rather to one of his companies, Devondale. That money is part of total club debts estimated at around £60m.
Neither Faraj nor Fahim have ever owned the valuable land around Fratton Park, which has always been viewed as key to long-term development plans for the stadium but is still owned by a subsidiary of Devondale.
Portsmouth's statement said: "Ali al-Faraj and his associates took over the running of the club and inherited a business that had substantial debts. Dealing with the finances has been the priority since Al-Faraj came in to pay the players before taking over the club from Sulaiman al-Fahim.
"The club is not going into administration. If that were the case it would have happened at the end of September or early October. This week alone, HM Revenue and Customs were paid £2m."
The statement continued: "The owner remains committed to the club and has shown that through his investment to date. He will also provide manager Avram Grant with all the tools he needs to ensure the club reaches a position the players' performances deserve – away from the relegation zone.
"Despite media rumours, Peter Storrie remains chief executive and has been holding talks on behalf of the club in other parts of the world. Much is happening behind the scenes but constant malicious rumours and speculation do not assist with the proposed major long-term funding that is currently being put in place."
Portsmouth are bottom of the Premier League, having recently sacked Paul Hart as manager and replaced him with Grant.
Portsmouth's debt: How it breaks down
Portsmouth are believed still to owe circa £60m, despite paying off some this week. Sacha Gaydamak is owed £32m, football debts total circa £8m, while the HMRC may still be owed, although £2m was paid this week.
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