Portsmouth 'shadow' should be removed says judge

A High Court judge today ordered a hearing into whether the administration keeping Portsmouth afloat as a Premier League team was validly appointed.

The new twist in the rocky fortunes of the club came after a challenge by the taxman to the administration and the judge ruled the "shadow over the appointment should be removed".

Gregory Mitchell QC, representing HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), told High Court judge Mr Justice Norris Portsmouth is a "well-loved club with a long and successful history".

"The question we ask, and supporters and members of the public ask, is how is it possible that this once-great club has become insolvent with liabilities exceeding assets by a figure of £65 million?"

He said HMRC wanted to know how a "succession of owners of the club have allowed such enormous debts to accrue".

"We say that there are serious questions which arise and require a full investigation into the financial dealings between the various owners of the club, which at the moment are shrouded in mystery.

"If this club can be rescued by a process of administration, then that is to be welcomed by all, including HMRC."

Mr Mitchell said HMRC's support for the plans to rescue the club were qualified by concerns.

"Have these administrators been validly appointed?" he asked the court.

"The question of validity is a fundamental issue and that has to be determined one way or the other as quickly as possible."

He said if the administration was invalid, then the administrators could not act for the club.

Any funds to support the administration would come from Hong Kong businessman Balram Chainrai who has a controlling interest in the club, he said.

"Our concern is that there should be a full and independent investigation of the position and the transactions between the club and Mr Chainrai.

"We say that if there is no proper evidence of funds having been provided to the administrators to meet the club's financial needs, then there is a real danger the administration will fail to achieve the proper purpose."

Simon Barker QC, representing Portsmouth, said Portpin, Mr Chainrai's company, was providing £15million which was more than enough to keep Portsmouth afloat until the end of the season.

He said if the appointment of administrators was found to be invalid, then Portsmouth directors would return to court to appoint new ones.

The administration must continue, he said, to allow a purchaser to refund the club.

Mr Barker said: "There is no reason to impugn the conduct of these administrators at all. There is no reason the court should have any doubts about their appointment and independence.

"The administrators want the air cleared in a way which allows them to get on with their task."

Mr Justice Norris, in a ruling, said: "A shadow has been cast over the existing appointment of the administrators and it is clear that shadow should be removed as quickly and cheaply as possible."

He added: "It is common ground before me that immediate liquidation of the company is a course to be avoided if possible. But it is only possible if properly funded administrators can be put in place."

The judge ordered a hearing over the validity of the administration appointment in two weeks' time.

He also directed that Portsmouth should provide evidence of "each and every sum" which Portpin lent to the club and also "full particulars" of any money paid to Portpin and Mr Chainrai by the club.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference