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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Dwight Gayle (left) celebrates making it 1-1 with Crystal Palace captain Mile Jedinak
premier leagueReds falter to humbling defeat
Sport
Harry Kane
premier leagueLive minute-by-minute coverage
News
video
Arts and Entertainment
Jerry Hall (Hand out press photograph provided by jackstanley@theambassadors.com)
theatre
News
peopleFormer civil rights activist who was jailed for smoking crack cocaine has died aged 78
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Sport
Jonny May scores for England
rugby unionEngland 28 Samoa 9: Wing scores twice to help England record their first win in six
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin