Portsmouth reach crisis point over players' pay

Footballers’ union steps in as Storrie reveals he no longer has financial control under new regime
Click to follow
The Independent Football

The Portsmouth players called in their trade union yesterday to demand assurances from the club that their unpaid wages would be paid by the end of the week. The Professional Footballers' Association was told that its members would get their money by today although there were no promises as to the long-term future.

The PFA will despatch delegate Nick Cusack to Fratton Park today to talk to Ali al-Faraj's advisors about the future of the club and ensure that players are paid for the month of December. On Tuesday the club failed to meet a 4pm deadline they set themselves to pay the players and as a result there were meetings yesterday involving PFA officials, the Premier League and the club.

Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the PFA, said: "It has been very delicate but there have been talks. Arrangements have been put in place that the players will get their money this week. We also looked at the long-term approach in terms of the ownership but it would be naïve to say that has been all sorted."

The long-serving Portsmouth chief executive Peter Storrie has also indicated that Al-Faraj, the new owner, and his lawyer, Mark Jacob, have now taken away his responsibilities involving the finances of the club. Storrie said yesterday: "I don't deal with the financial side at all. I haven't done so since the takeover. I have not been involved in the players' wages meeting but my understanding is that the money will be paid [by today]."

Storrie was unable to get to yesterday's meeting because of the heavy snowfall but he indicated that he is no longer taking a prominent role in helping Al-Faraj re-finance the club. In the past he has been asked to seek out new investors for the club. Storrie said that he would continue in his role as chief executive, running the club on a day-to-day basis.

With no sign of Portsmouth's Premier League-imposed transfer embargo being lifted, the club manager, Avram Grant, is considering calling David Nugent back from his loan at Burnley. The club have already been told by the Premier League that they will not receive any of the £7m broadcast revenue payment which instead will go straight to their football creditors.

The impossibility of signing anyone this month means that Portsmouth will have to call up every player at their disposal. Nugent has expressed a desire to stay at Burnley but that decision might well be taken out of his hands. Grant said: "We are thinking about this. In the next few days we will know. It depends on many things. But it could happen."

With the likes of Younes Kaboul, David James and Nadir Belhadj the club's only valuable assets, Storrie said that Al-Faraj could well have to sell players to pay tax bills and other creditors. "If the way to keep this club alive is to sell a couple of players again, we will have to do that – but it will be an owner's decision," he said.

"It will look doom and gloom but what is the other side of that? The other side of that is if you do not sell, then you could well be going into administration. The new owners have come in almost overnight and to be fair they have put a lot of money into the club.

"They thought they were in a strong position to replace bank finance and bring in a major new investor that was going to be involved. But those two things have not happened and although they are working on doing that, time is catching up with them in terms of the debts and the money that is needed to run a Premier League side."

In order to sell Kevin-Prince Boateng, Portsmouth would need the permission of Fifa because he has already played for two teams – Tottenham Hotspur and Pompey – this season. Players are forbidden from playing for three clubs in a season. Jamie O'Hara's loan from Spurs expires this month and he will also be leaving Portsmouth.

Comments