Portsmouth TV revenue could be withheld

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The Independent Online

Portsmouth remain confident they will soon be back on an even financial keel, despite the Premier League being ready to withhold their latest chunk of television money to cover unpaid transfer fees.

The Fratton Park club are challenging the winding-up petition served on them by HM Revenue and Customs before Christmas, and are to go to court to argue the VAT portion of their massive tax debt is too high by some £7.5million.

Pompey are also currently subject to a transfer embargo because of outstanding fees, which has led the Premier League to consider redistributing the latest portion of broadcasting income, around £7million, which is set to be paid to clubs today.

It is understood the unsettled accounts are spread across several deals, including the transfer of Glen Johnson from Chelsea in August 2007, the full-back having since been sold on to Liverpool for £18million. Elsewhere, terms still have to be met over Younes Kaboul's move from Tottenham, Sulley Muntari, now at Inter Milan, from Udinese, John Utaka from Rennes as well as Nadir Belhadj and Aruna Dindane from Lens.

The total outstanding is believed to be around £10million, so even were the Premier League to redistribute the cash, Pompey would still be short.

Nevertheless, Portsmouth are confident the problems behind the scenes following two recent changes in ownership will soon be stabilised.

Pompey remain positive the Premier League's transfer embargo will be lifted to allow manager Avram Grant to enter into the market this month as he looks to get the club, in FA Cup action at Coventry for tonight's FA Cup third-round replay, off the foot of the table.

Executive director Mark Jacob believes Saudi businessman Ali Al Faraj, whose investment has so far enabled Portsmouth to stay afloat and avoid administration, despite paying players' salaries late more than once, can take the club forwards.

Jacob told the Portsmouth News: "If you look at the list of creditors and the timeframe of the debts the club owed in September 2009 compared to January 2010, people will then appreciate the efforts that [club lawyer] Mr [Daniel] Azougy and the financial team at the club have made.

"It has to be said, there is now more transparency between the club and its creditors and we have been pleasantly surprised that a lot of people who may have been owed money by Portsmouth in the past now understand and appreciate the efforts we have made to pay the debts.

"It is in no-one's interest to take matters to court and threatening court proceedings.

"If there is an issue, we want to address it."

Jacob is confident of a successful challenge to HMRC.

"We have inherited a huge tax liability and - since the takeover - substantial sums have been paid to the Revenue. In fact, they have been prioritised as a creditor.

"As for the matters reported, all I can say at this stage - because it is subject to legal proceedings - is the Revenue are being challenged and we will know more in the coming weeks.

"We have every confidence that the matter will be addressed."

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