Portsmouth dispute HMRC claims

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The Independent Football

Portsmouth have denied being formally served with a winding up petition in a statement released by the club.

The club have also claimed they are surprised by the actions of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs over the petition which is in respect of "VAT, PAYE and National Insurance contributions which either have been, or are about to be paid, or are disputed".

The club also claim they are disputing the amount of VAT outstanding and expect the HMRC to withdraw their demands.

A statement released by the club read: "Portsmouth Football club has not been formally served with a winding up petition and is shocked and surprised this action has been taken in respect of VAT, PAYE and National Insurance contributions which either have been, or are about to be paid, or are disputed.

"The club is disputing the VAT amount outstanding and has formally notified HMRC of this. We expect HMRC to withdraw their demands forthwith.

"Otherwise we anticipate a hearing being held in early January 2010 during which we will request that the High Court order HMRC to withdraw their demands.

"Since the takeover by Ali Al Faraj in October 2009, extreme efforts have been made to reach payment arrangements with HMRC to allow the owner time to deal with inherited debt.

"To date the new owner has injected a total of £9.7million of new funds to HMRC - £5.7m paid and security to the value of £4m.

"In such a tough economic environment the club finds it hard to understand this action by HMRC.

"It is well known that the business has been in a difficult position following former owners' decisions and the current owner is committed to resolving this and moving forward."

Bottom-of-the-table Pompey are currently operating under a transfer embargo due to their financial problems.

A Premier League spokesman said: "We continue to monitor Portsmouth's situation closely and remain in frequent dialogue with the club. Clearly, we hope they settle any issues they have with the HMRC before the court hearing in February."

Portsmouth have endured a traumatic year in 2009.

A bid from Sulaiman Al Fahim was accepted in May and he completed his takeover in August.

At the start of October the club admitted failing to pay players' wages on time and on October 5 Al Fahim sold 90% of his Portsmouth shares to Ali Al Faraj.

Early this month the club confirmed that players' wages had been delayed again.

On the pitch Paul Hart was sacked on November 24 and two days later Avram Grant succeeded him as manager.

Pompey are currently four points adrift of Hull, Bolton and West Ham.

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